NBRC Catalyst Program


Northern Border Regional Commission is making up to $50M available in federal resources through the Catalyst Program in 2024. The Catalyst Program will hold two funding rounds with up to $30M available in the spring round and up to $20M available in the fall round.

The Catalyst Program is designed to stimulate economic growth and inspire partnerships that improve rural economic vitality across the four-state NBRC region.

NBRC encourages projects that take a creative approach to addressing an economic need or opportunity in the region, alleviate economic distress, and contribute to economic growth.

Jennifer Peters, Director of Community Development


Through a Pilot Project with NBRC, SCEC can assist eligible Washington County applicants with the pre-application and application process at no cost.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Peters, Director of Community Development:

Phone: 207-255-0983

Email: scec@sunrisecounty.org

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Successful projects support a broad range of economic development initiatives such as, but not limited to, projects that modernize and expand access to public water and wastewater services, revitalize transportation infrastructure, establish workforce development programs and facilities, grow the outdoor recreation economy, and provide access to new childcare and healthcare facilities.


What are NBRC investment priorities?

NBRC investment priorities include:

  • Projects that provide direct benefits to communities that have been underrepresented in past NBRC investments. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate direct benefits to rural communities with populations of less than 5,000 and disadvantaged communities. NBRC identifies a disadvantaged community as those who suffer from a combination of economic, health and environmental burdens, including high unemployment and poverty, basic resources or conditions, such as standard housing, medical and educational facilities, and civil rights and vulnerable populations, including minority, low income, rural, tribal, indigenous, homeless and limited English populations.
  • Projects that address multiple needs across eligible infrastructure and non-infrastructure categories. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate efficiencies gained from including multiple categories in one project.
  • Projects that adapt to changing climate conditions and extreme weather events. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate how they help communities prevent, reduce, withstand, and/or improve recovery from climate related impacts and disasters.
    Who is Eligible?
    • State governments of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York;
    • Local governments and secondary and career technical centers (village, town, city and county);
    • Other political subdivisions of states (regional planning commissions, authorities of the state);
    • Federally recognized Indian Tribes; § 200.54 Indian tribe: Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. Chapter 33), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)). See annually published Bureau of Indian Affairs list of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services;
    • Non-profit entities: The term ‘nonprofit entity’ means any organization described in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from taxation under 501(a) of that Code. The non-profit entity must be able to demonstrate they have federal grant experience related to community and economic development.
    What is the award size?

    Projects will be classified as either non-infrastructure or infrastructure during the pre-application review process conducted by both NBRC and the member states (New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). This classification determines the maximum potential award size for the project. For detailed explanations of the non-infrastructure and infrastructure categories, please see below and the 2024 Catalyst Program Manual.

    Infrastructure Projects: Projects classified as construction in support of infrastructure are eligible for awards of up to $1,000,000. Infrastructure projects may be eligible for up to an additional $2,000,000 in funding, for a total maximum award of $3,000,000, if the project meets one of the following criteria: 1) construction takes place in two or more eligible communities/counties/states; or 2) construction involves two or more infrastructure categories (basic public, transportation, renewable energy, or telecommunications).

    Non-infrastructure Projects: Projects classified as non-infrastructure projects are eligible for awards of up to $500,000.

    Applicants may propose projects with a federal funding request less than these amounts. There will be no preference given to larger funding requests and proposals for all award sizes will be considered.

    How are proposals scored?

    NBRC reviews and scores project proposals based on 5 categories: Project Readiness, Alignment with Investment Goals and Program Priorities, Economic Impacts, Project Costs and Match, and Organizational Capacity. The NBRC can award up to a total of 50 points out of the available 100 points based on the following criteria:

    1. Project Readiness. This category reflects an applicant’s ability to perform the proposed work within the 3-year performance period and begin to draw down NBRC funds within 12 months of award date. (10 points)
    2. Alignment with Agency Investment Priorities. This category reviews how a project aligns with the NBRC strategic investment goals and program priorities. The applicant describes how the project meets NBRC investment priorities in the project summary. Projects will receive a higher score based on completeness of addressing relevant investment priorities outlined in the program materials. (15 points)
    3. Economic Impacts. Projects will be reviewed for anticipated economic impact. Economic impacts should be consistent and, where possible, supported by feasibility studies, and/or local, state, or regional data. (10 points)
    4. Project Costs and Match. Budgets and costs, including contingency for construction projects, are clear and reasonable. Projects have identified secured match and are leveraging non- federal funds. (10 points)
    5. Organizational Capacity. Applicants will be evaluated based on past performance for timely completion, collaboration, staff qualifications, and ability to meet program requirements. (5 points)

    The remaining 50 points will be awarded by the state program in which the project is proposed. States use a similar set of review criteria with an emphasis on state economic development and infrastructure priorities.

    How do I apply?

    The application submission process is the same for infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects. The Catalyst Program will run two funding rounds in 2024, with pre-application deadlines on March 15 and September 6, and full application deadlines on May 3 and October 18, respectively.

    Pre-applications are required for funding consideration. Pre-applications will be reviewed for eligibility, maximum award amounts based on project classification as either infrastructure or non-infrastructure, and adherence to both NBRC agency priorities and state program priorities. Full applications will only be accepted from those entities expressly invited to apply at the pre-application phase and must be submitted using NBRC’s online application system.

    Interested and invited applicants should refer to the 2024 Catalyst Program Manual for detailed pre- application and application submission instructions. The Program Manual will be made available on NBRC’s website at www.nbrc.gov in January 2024.

    SCEC can help with your application at no cost.  SCEC can provide technical assistance to any Washington County applicant, and through a Pilot Project, SCEC can provide eligible entities with grant writing services for the NBRC programs. To be eligible, the entity must fit the following criteria:

    • Communities under 3,000 population (or, for nonprofit entities, those projects that will focus on communities under 3,000 population)
    • Non-service center communities
    • First time NBRC applicants
    • Nonprofit entities without in-house dedicated grant writing capacity
    • Tribal entities

    Please contact Jennifer Peters at 207 255-0983 or scec@sunrisecounty.org with questions.

    2024 Catalyst Timeline

    Spring 2024
    • Pre-Application (Required) Due on March 15, 2024, 5:00 pm EST
    • Application (By Invitation) Due on May 3, 2024, 5:00 pm EST
    Fall 2024
    • Pre-Application (Required) Due on September 6, 2024, 5:00 pm EST
    • Application (By Invitation) Due on October 18, 2024, 5:00 pm EST

    Administration Assistance through SCEC 

    The NBRC Federal-State partnership is aided by a group of regional organizations called Local Development Districts (LDDs) that assist the NBRC in its outreach activities and administer NBRC investments for grantees. LDDs are knowledgeable about other Federal and State programs that help fund economic and community development projects.

    Sunrise County Economic Council is an LDD. 

    Each Catalyst Program award is required to utilize an LDD for grant administration assistance unless they are an agency of State government, are an LDD, or have requested and received LDD waiver approval from NBRC prior to the submission of the Catalyst Program application. 

    LDDs are compensated for their administrative work, through a reimbursement process with the grantee, based on the formula of 2% of the NBRC award. LLDs can assist with: 

    • Quarterly Reporting: Ensure that the grantee files quarterly reports on time and enough information
      to provide a meaningful outline of where the project is at in the process.
    • Reimbursement Requests: Provide guidance to grantees on filing reimbursement requests and ensure that reimbursement requests are accurate, within approved budget and contain all the necessary documentation to provide evidence of match and reimbursements that are expected to be paid by NBRC.
    • Final Reporting: Ensure that the grantee has filed their final report and financial report in a timely manner after the project is complete.
    • General Assistance: Be available to provide guidance to the grantee with other issues such as what their responsibilities are regarding procurement of goods and services and contractors. Have a general knowledge base about federal grant programs, specifically NBRC.