Projects With Purpose

June 7, 2021

Why non-profits should cheer the return of earmarks. And how to get one.

After a ten-year hiatus, congressional earmarks are back. Earmarks are congressionally directed spending — legislative language in appropriations bills that directs funds for a particular purpose, such as building a new road or supporting another local project.  

Last month, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) officially announced the return of earmarks – now called “Community Project Funding” (CPF). Before the announcement, there was a ten-year moratorium on earmarks after questions of wasteful spending and corruption scandals involving the use of funds.

Earmarks are a powerful tool Democrats can use to advance the President’s agenda. They are a great opportunity for non-profits to get government funding for community-based projects. The funding available is significant. While the House and Senate have agreed to limit earmarks to just 1% of federal spending, that still works out to about $15 billion – or $7.5 billion per chamber.

Community Project Funds Guidance

The return of earmarks has come with new rules. The House Appropriations Committee published guidance on what programs are eligible for CPF. Key take ways from the new CPF guidelines:

·      All requests to be made online simultaneously with their submissions to the committee and members must certify they have no financial interest in the projects they request;

·      Community Project Funding needs to be for infrastructure, community programs, university research, hospitals, and other local initiatives;

·      Each member may only ask for 10 projects to be funded through CPF;

·      Members may request funding only for non-profits and state and local governmental grantees. Meaning for-profit recipients are banned;

·      Members need to provide evidence of community support that were compelling factors in their decision to select the requested projects;

·      Funding request must include a project description (limit 1,000 characters), as well as a budget breakout specifically describing how funds will be used by the grantee. The explanation of the request must include why it is a good use of taxpayer funds;

·      The Government Accountability Office (GAO) will conduct a mandatory audit of a sample of projects and report its findings to Congress.

Each subcommittee has provided guidance on the criteria necessary to be considered.

Application Process and Eligible Accounts and Programs

Every Member office has its own submission process and internal deadlines for requests. There is no uniform way to submit requests, but there are some overlapping requirements, including:

·      Describing the project, the public benefit and value for a Member’s district;

·      Requesting a specific amount of funding and providing a breakdown of project costs; and

·      Submitting evidence that the requesting organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit or a state or local government grantee.  

To best understand the requirements of your Member you should contact their office. For the fiscal year 2022 (which begins on October 1, 2021), 10 of the 12 annual bills will be accepting CPF proposals. Both the Legislative Branch and State/Foreign Operations Appropriations bills will not be earmarked. For the 10 bills available, each has only a handful of accounts available for request. To see the available accounts and the subcommittee deadline visit here. Note the subcommittee deadlines are subject to change.

We Can Help

It won’t be easy to get CPF funding. Many organizations are competing for resources. Lobbyists are already out in force. Deadlines are coming up fast. Ceartas Advisors can help make it possible. Whether your organization is seeking an earmark this year or just wants to better understand the process for next year, we can work with you to achieve your goals. Connect with us at