U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson have announced a collaborative effort to build upon current federal investments for regions that support sustainable and livable communities. For the first time ever, HUD and EPA will join forces to competitively award $5.65 million to strengthen the capacity of existing sustainable communities grantees to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods for American families. The award program will build upon the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), HUD and EPA to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Award recipients will form a national leadership network of existing and future HUD and EPA grantees that are advancing sustainable regional planning and development in their respective contexts and areas. The network of grantees will exchange ideas on successful strategies, lessons learned, emerging tools, and public engagement plans. The Capacity Building for Sustainable Communities grant program will award funds to capacity building service providers who will work directly with grant recipients from the FY2010, and FY 2011 HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning and Community Challenge, HUD Preferred Sustainability Status Communities, and EPA Sustainable Community Technical Assistance and Brownfield Area Wide Planning grant programs. “HUD and EPA’s historic joint funding effort represents the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to providing innovative solutions toward planning our communities smarter,” said Donovan. “With greater capacity, grantees will reinforce the outstanding progress sustainable communities grantees have already made in creating safe, stable communities near good jobs and schools, and businesses.” The Partnership’s interagency collaboration gets better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently by coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent. The Partnership is helping communities across the country to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses. At a time when every dollar the federal government invests in jumpstarting the economy is critical, the President’s plan ensures that all these agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision. This grant program will reinforce the principles of the Partnership, and provide the grantees with the necessary tools to build economic competitiveness in their regions. HUD will take the lead in administering the notice of funding availability (NOFA) while both agencies will collaborate in the review and selection process of the grantees. The grantees must demonstrate significant knowledge, skills, experience, and a cohesive plan for delivering the specific skills and tactics necessary to build the capacity of existing sustainability grantees. Both HUD and EPA contributed funding to the grant opportunity. Applications for the NOFA are due July 8, 2011. Non-profit organizations, local or state public agencies, for-profit organizations, nationally recognized and accredited Universities or Colleges, or any combination of eligible entities as a Capacity Building Team are eligible to apply for funding.