Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs Establishes Fund for Infrastructure and Economic Growth

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs established The FIRST Fund, a first-of-its-kind impact investment fund dedicated to addressing the state’s infrastructure needs while fostering economic growth. It would repair and improve the state’s neglected infrastructure “backbone” like roads, electrical grids, schools, bridges, housing, and hospitals. The FIRST fund allows the state treasurer to allocate up to 5% of the state’s portfolio to invest in, create, and maintain sustainable infrastructure and real estate assets.

Providence’s Early Learning Infrastructure Support Program

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley is building up the city’s early education infrastructure through the Early Learning Infrastructure Support Program. This new program will invest $1.9 million from both the general budget and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), to offer technical support, planning grants, and construction grants to childcare providers and centers. This initiative is an investment in the early learning economy, supporting minority- and women-owned business owners in Providence who were essential during the COVID-19 quarantines. The planning and construction grants prioritize facility improvements that will improve the safety, quality rating and capacity of both home- and center-based providers

The program also tackles issues like staffing shortages and insufficient reimbursement rates. LISC assists providers in identifying areas for facility improvement, safety enhancements, and quality rating upgrades. Ultimately, the Early Learning Infrastructure Support Program enhances childcare quality, safety, and capacity, benefiting families and advancing Providence’s goal of universal Pre-K access in high-quality facilities.



On July 13, 2023, Providence announced over $1 million in grants to 16 home-based and 8 center-based facilities. Reporting includes details on how each project tackles health and safety concerns, upgrades quality ratings, and boosts capacity. For instance, adding a backyard fence improves safety, advances quality ratings, and allows home-based providers to accommodate more children.

Improving engagement with home-based providers was a priority. After a three-month application period with dual language support (English and Spanish), LISC received 45 applications from home-based providers, a significant increase compared to previous rounds.”

Ensuring Flood Resilient Infrastructure Investments

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Florida Representative Christine Hunschofsky’s Sea Level Rise Impact Projection legislation requires that public entities, who are using state funding, conduct sea level rise studies for construction projects in any area threatened by sea level rise – including those areas that are vulnerable and located in inland areas. This policy aims to give communities a better understanding of how flooding affects them and will empower them to take appropriate steps to prepare. The policy will lead to smart investments, saving communities money and protecting residents and communities for future generations.



 Success will include having communities more aware of the areas that are prone to flooding and sea level rise. It will increase awareness that many areas beyond coastlines are impacted by sea level rise and flooding. Success will include flooding and sea level rise being included in infrastructure planning.

Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall Helped Residents with Water Conservation Efforts

Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is helping Salt Lake City residents conserve water with an innovative new tool that calculates how much water homeowners need to maintain their landscapes. Utilizing software developed by Utah State University, the city’s Department of Public Utilities will provide WaterMAPS reports to residents to help them reduce water usage and save dollars as the city continues to grapple with drought conditions.

The reports consider water meter data, local weather, and a property’s plant types to offer a Landscape Irrigation Ratio, which tells residents how much water they need to sustain their landscape rather than how much they actually need.

Missouri: St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones Released Plan of American Rescue Plan Funding to Improve Street Safety

Missouri: St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones released a new map outlining the timeline and breakdown of recently appropriated American Rescue Plan Act funding to improve street conditions and safety throughout the city. The roadmap utilized data to identify 10 hot-spot intersections and corridors in need of repavement and safety enhancements. Construction and improvements will be made over the next several years.

The City will spend $3.5 million to address intersections of interest. Much of this funding will repave and repaint around 32 miles of city streets.

Maryland Senator Antonio Hayes Secures Funding for West Baltimore Revitalization Programs

Maryland: Senator Antonio Hayes helped secure funding to invest in and revitalize West Baltimore. The state’s budget will provide over $11 million to the area’s Development Authority, which will strategically invest the new funding to build on recent support provided to local businesses. Around $10 million of the funding package will be used for community grants and $1 million will go toward hiring staff for the authority. Hayes sponsored the original legislation creating the authority as well as legislation to expedite the appropriation process and send out grants to spur economic growth and create jobs.

Mayors Kate Gallego & Ron Nirenberg Lead Initiatives to Protect Communities from Extreme Heat

In a summer of record temperatures, state and local leaders are working to keep residents safe in the scorching heat. For NewDEAL Leader and Phoenix, AZ, Mayor Kate Gallego, innovative solutions like city-wide cooling centers and regular water distribution help to curb the impacts of extreme heat for the most vulnerable community members. Collaboration with the federal government and local nonprofits has been instrumental in getting citizens, including those who live in homeless encampments, out of the streets and inside. Phoenix boasts over 60 cooling centers that provide shelter for those facing housing insecurity. “But my goal would be to get people inside in air-conditioned environments,” Gallego said of Phoenix’s long term plans.

In San Antonio, TX, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a NewDEAL Leader, has fought to maintain local control as the Republican-controlled state legislature undermines safety initiatives that would protect workers from extreme heat. But there’s hope at the national level, Nirenberg noted in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation. Last week, at a virtual convening with Mayors Gallego, Nirenberg, and others, President Biden announced a $7 million spending plan from the Inflation Reduction Act for improved heat forecasting and a $152 million plan from the 2021 Infrastructure law for climate infrastructure in the southwest. “We’re certainly grateful for a president now that’s treating this heatwave with the urgency that I think is necessary,” Nirenberg said.


New Democrat Coalition Releases Economic Opportunity Agenda

This week, the Congressional New Democrat Coalition released their Economic Opportunity Agenda, a comprehensive policy plan that outlines how Congress and the Biden Administration can continue cutting costs for families and growing the middle class. Much of the agenda is focused on effectively implementing federal legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act.

The agenda identifies eight key issue areas where Congress can make progress, including permitting reform to streamline the construction of clean energy infrastructure, eliminating discriminatory zoning practices to encourage affordable housing construction, passing a Farm Bill that helps produce more affordable, high-quality food in America, and much more. “New Dems remain committed to working with the Biden Administration and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on policies that will continue lowering costs and creating a strong economy that empowers all Americans to succeed,” the group’s leadership said. For more on the Economic Opportunity Agenda, see Semafor’s coverage.


Rhode Island Brett Smiley Directs $3 Million Grant for Building Resilience in Non-Profits Serving Underserved Providence Communities Program

Providence: Rhode Island Mayor Brett Smiley announced $3 million in grants for the Building Resilience in Non-Profits Serving Underserved Providence Communities program. This grant will help the grantees improve and expand their impact, including key social and behavioral services, employment opportunities, and more. “These grants are a long-term investment that will help prepare our community organizations become more resilient in future disasters and ensure residents can still have access to quality services,” Smiley said.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson Initiates Road Safety Study with Federal Funds

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson is partnering with the federal government and county to improve road safety in the city with a $400,000 grant. Johnson has called for more bicycle lanes and street improvements, noting they create connectivity between neighborhoods, and has previously announced plans to invest in 50 miles of protected bicycle lanes. This study will examine potential traffic-calming methods and whether shared bus-bike lanes will prove to be safer and effective.