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.

Mayor Levar Stoney: Mayor’s Alliance to End Childhood Hunger

NewDEAL Leader Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney is chairing the new Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, launched this week, with more than 50 other mayors already signed on, including 14 other NewDEALers. The Alliance seeks individual and collective leadership from cities nationwide to take meaningful action against childhood hunger, including publicly speaking on hunger issues, expansion of SNAP and P-EBT opportunities, and providing better financial assistance for school meals. Read more about the Alliance, or check out their one-pager on actions mayors can take.

Councilmember Raul Campillo: Connecting Seniors to Affordable Transportation

Recently, San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo announced the launch of the FACT pilot program, or Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation, in coordination with local community groups. The program will subsidize rides for seniors who do not have access to cars, allowing them to get basic needs like groceries and medical prescriptions, with charges of $2.50 for rides shorter than 5 miles and $10 dollars for rides longer than 20.1 miles. Read more info about the program, which local senior centers praised as a great improvement to the quality of life for seniors in the community.

Mayor Zeb Smathers: Federal Funds Help Shape the Hometown of Tomorrow

This week, the Canton, NC governing board, led by NewDEAL Leader Mayor Zeb Smathers, met to map the town’s recovery from a devastating flood last year that wreaked havoc on homes and businesses, using this moment of tragedy as a catalyst for more transformative change. Mayor Smathers is now considering multiple federal funding streams that have the potential to transform his town and ensure it embodies, as Smathers puts it, “the hometown of tomorrow.” For example, the governing board is considering selling riverfront land to FEMA as part of the agency’s buyout program. The land, if sold, could be turned into a park system for residents. Other rebuilding projects include an all-abilities playground, a dog park, and an aquatics center. Read this article for more on how Canton is turning tragedy into opportunity, and listen to our recent podcast interview with Mayor Smathers to hear him discuss the flood and how his town is building back.

Mayor Levar Stoney: A New Era for Richmond

This week, NewDEAL Leader Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney delivered his state of the city address, highlighting his ongoing equity agenda and how new investments in housing, economic growth, and public safety initiatives will make a difference for his community. In addition, Mayor Stoney laid out new programs to: spur further economic growth, building on infrastructure improvements; support students, including a pilot program to help get high school graduates through community college; and boost public safety with plans to tackle gun violence along with police recruitment, retention and accountability. “Our past is no longer leading our present. Now, we are leading our future,” Stoney proclaimed. “A future that includes all Richmonders, no matter the color of their skin, whom they pray to or whom they love.” Read more about Mayor Stoney’s State of the City address here.

Mayor Justin Bibb: Cleveland’s Infrastructure

Over the last several weeks, NewDEAL Leader Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has announced a series of impactful investments in his community seeking to expand broadband access and revitalize large sections of his city. This week, Bibb announced a public-private partnership that would bring internet access to an estimated 29,000 homes over the next 18 months. Last week, he announced a $21 million investment of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for a Waterfront Activation Fund that will support nine projects along the city’s shores, and, in April, he announced plans to devote more of the city’s federal aid to turn “thousands of acres” of brownfields into development-ready land. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced infrastructure funds dedicated to the replacement of aging train and commuter rail cars. Read more about Mayor Bibb’s agenda here.

Senator Eddie Melton: Bipartisan Bill Revitalizes Gary, IN

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed SEA 434 – an innovative economic development bill sponsored and championed by NewDEAL Leader Indiana Senator Eddie Melton – into law this week. Senate Enrolled Act 434, which was introduced by Senator Melton back in January, matches new gaming revenue with local dollars for economic investments in the Lake County region. With these funds, the bill establishes the Lake County Convention and Economic Development Fund; creates the Blighted Property Demolition Fund to address the over 6,000 abandoned properties in the region; and invests in the revitalization of the Gary Metro Station to meet the goals of the state’s Double Tracking project. “SEA 434 represents new beginnings and opportunities for the people of Gary who have long been ready for change,” Senator Melton expressed at the bill’s signing. SEA 434 represents a pragmatic, bipartisan win for Melton and for all of Indiana, with the bill passing by a 49-1 vote.

Moving Montgomery Forward with Gigabit Speed Networks


The current absence of a high-speed, ultra-secure, and interconnected network prevents Montgomery County from reaching its economic growth potential by investing in a vibrant life sciences community.


County Councilmember Riemer has proposed that the county government help facilitate the creation of a high-speed, secure, and interconnected fiber network that will be built based on a co-op, public utility model. The proposed network will connect with the County’s own fiber network and will be funded and built by private sector, anchor institutions already in the life sciences corridor and networking firms seeking to gain a foothold there. The resulting infrastructure will attract additional investment, new companies, and high-paying, high-tech jobs to the county to increase economic competitiveness and growth.

ETOPIA: Statewide Broadband Expansion


In our expanding digital world, broadband access has become a critical infrastructure for consumers and businesses alike to remain economically competitive.


Senator Unger is proposing to create an inventory and mapping of broadband availability around the state of West Virginia, to develop a framework for increasing and upgrading internet infrastructure across the state. His proposal also requires intergovernmental cooperation and coordination on finding the best ways to implement these technological improvements effectively. Through increased broadband access, Unger hopes to increase economic competitiveness by ensuring equal access to high-speed internet for all and by attracting more businesses to West Virginia.