Engage Your Community in Developing Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds
- Laura Trappett
- May 1, 2021
- 7 minute read
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way Local and State Governments informed, engaged and collaborated with their communities, rapidly shifting their public participation strategies to online.
A process that traditionally brings communities together in-person, meant the once ‘new age’ way of engagement was accelerated to allow communities to come together online through surveys, video town hall discussions, forums and interactive mapping to continue civic engagement in city-building practices.
As we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, digital tools continue to be utilized to build hybrid participation strategies that enable safe, diverse and informative decision-making for large Infrastructure, Education, Agriculture, Urban Development and Human Resources projects.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law on March 11, 2021, provides federal aid to cities and counties to drive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic worth $1.9 trillion. The U.S Treasury Department will administer the stimulus package in two separate allocations in 2021 and 2022, which cities must use by December 31, 2024.
Digital engagement platforms are currently being used by Local and State Governments throughout the USA, to hear the needs of communities and drive more informed decision-making in the use of their COVID-19 recovery funds.
What can American Rescue Plan funds be used for?
According to the United States Conference of Mayors, The American Rescue Plan will provide state, territories and tribal governments with the necessary funds to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education and new infrastructure to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can digital tools be used to support your American Rescue Plan strategy?
For many cities and counties, the American Rescue Plan funds represent the largest positive fiscal jolt to their budgets in decades. The funding’s magnitude and flexibility means cities and counties need to showcase best practice civic engagement and informed decision-making in support of their fund allocations by December 31, 2024. Social Pinpoint’s suite of digital engagement tools enables Government’s to reach a large, diverse audience within the community anytime from anywhere. The diversity of Social Pinpoint’s tools allows individuals to provide feedback in a multitude of formats that best represent their thoughts, view other community members’ suggestions, and join online conversations about how they would like to see funds spent.
Social Pinpoint also provides Local and State Governments with the ability to pull intuitive, efficient, real-time reports that show trending topics, themes and concerns from the public. This enables you to get in front of issues and trending themes sooner and understand the community’s needs in a clear linear format, to drive informed decision making.
Community Engagement tools such as Social Pinpoint, have also provided Governments with a communications platform that can disburse critical and important health-related information in real-time, removing the laborious barriers attached to traditional engagement methods when working in critical and time-dependent situations.
Can the American Rescue Plan funds be used on digital engagement software?
The US Treasury Department is urging State, Territorial, Tribal, and Local Governments to engage their constituents and communities in developing plans to use these payments, given the scale of funding and its potential to catalyze broader economic recovery and rebuilding.
The American Rescue Plan also notes that Government need to submit a tangible report to justify the use of their recovery funds. Using Social Pinpoint, you can provide accessible, organized and verified data that clearly highlights your civic engagement strategy, outcomes and supporting decision making.
How can digital tools support civic engagement strategies that underpin the use of American Rescue Plan funds?
Reach wider audiences
Using Social Pinpoint, you can allocate your funds in the most equitable way by hearing the collective voices of diverse audiences through best practice civic engagement that enables participation, collaboration and deliberation from any digital device, at any time. Using digital engagement, you also eliminate barriers surrounding language, geography and accessibility.
Safely engage online
With society still adhering to social distancing and many organizations still working from home, you can safely and effectively run traditional engagement methods such as Town Hall Meetings online using Social Pinpoint.
Get set up within 2 hours
If you haven’t used a digital community engagement platform before, Social Pinpoint offers Professional Services to get your project up and running in under 2 hours. Our full-service capabilities include designing, building and deploying your Social Pinpoint project with best-practice industry expertise learnt from over 5000 projects.
Deliver on time
In time critical situations such as using The American Rescue Plan funds by December 31 2024, Social Pinpoint keeps your project on time by eliminating delayed decision-making, inadequate forecasting of issues and inaccurate timeline estimates. Digital tools allow you to engage your community at a moment’s notice for quick responses and understand critical problems before they come up.
With 92% of people now owning smartphones, digital tools improve the accessibility of your engagement project and therefore reduces your cost-per-participant spend. Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Governments want to efficiently and effectively use their funds to help the economy recover, and by using a digital engagement platform such as Social Pinpoint, you can avoid unexpected project delays and associated cost increases.
How to build your American Rescue Plan funding strategy using Social Pinpoint
1. Applying for and reporting on American Rescue Plan Funds
When applying for and reporting on the use of your American Rescue Plan funds, you will need to show how your decision-making was driven through a best practice civic engagement strategy. Using Social Pinpoint, you are able to reach a wide, diverse audience group and report on your engagement strategy in a clear and logical format that highlights trending themes, topics and concerns.
2. Utilise a suite of Social Pinpoint tools to drive desired outcomes
Social Pinpoint has a suite of digital tools and resources to suit your desired project outcomes including Surveys, Forums, Interactive Mapping, Ideation Tools, Participatory Budgeting, Landing Pages, and Stakeholder Management.
3. Start your project design and build
Social Pinpoint’s Customer Success Team will work with you to build and design your engagement site to suit your objectives. All Social Pinpoint projects are able to be customized in your organizational brand including colors, fonts and logos. As a self-service platform, our tools are user-friendly and easy to set up in a matter of minutes. During your onboarding process, we will provide you with various insights to help optimize your engagement platform to get the best possible results.
4. Gather insightful community feedback
Reaching and engaging communities with traditional engagement methods in the COVID-19 pandemic has proven challenging as we adhere to remote working conditions and social distancing, but with digital methods, you can safely reach people from anywhere on any device. Social Pinpoint has worked alongside clients globally to provide best practice methods to increase digital traffic and participation rates on project sites.
5. Pull intuitive real-time reports
Reporting on the use of your American Rescue Plan funds, you will need to showcase your civic engagement strategy and how this underpinned informed decision making. Social Pinpoint’s intuitive reporting has automatic sentiment and key phrase analysis to identify top themes/topics, and ‘hot spot’ identifiers to help you get in front of issues sooner. Social Pinpoint’s reports can be produced in PDF graphs, word clouds, bar and pie charts.
6. Make informed decisions to guide the use of American Rescue Plan funds
Traditionally with in-person community engagement efforts, the same group of stakeholders participate every time. While their feedback is valuable and important, online community engagement provides the opportunity to connect with and hear from a much larger segment of the community. Using digital tools in your civic engagement strategy, you engage with multiple communities and gain a better representation of how traditionally underrepresented communities would like to see the COVID-19 recovery funds utilized.
To support civic engagement in the planning and allocation of American Rescue Plan funds for Local and State Governments, Social Pinpoint is offering FREE 1-hour civic engagement scope and project planning sessions.