Navigating Funding for Local Governments - CivicWell

Navigating Funding for Local Governments and Communities

A Platform for Opportunities and Assistance

Community Design

Livable Places Update


November 29, 2022

For 40 years CivicWell has seen the persistent barriers to funding faced by under-resourced and marginalized communities. Due to factors like limited staff capacity and the complexity of the application process or program requirements, these communities are often out-competed for resources by more affluent areas.

To address these challenges, we developed Funding Navigation for California Communities. This funding and direct assistance platform supports local leaders in navigating the complex funding landscape to identify viable sources and develop competitive applications.

Funding Navigation’s website curates and presents the most prominent funding opportunities for local governments and communities across the state. Opportunities are categorized by award size, competitiveness, and level of application effort. Project areas include active transportation, affordable housing, drinking water supply and quality, parks, public transit and shared mobility, stormwater, street repair, and wastewater management. The site also shares information about broadband funding on occasion.

CivicWell’s Funding Navigation team offers direct assistance in pursuing these funding opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, we publish a newsletter of upcoming funding deadlines and other resources relevant to communities seeking to position themselves for funding.

Local governments of all sizes have created impactful projects in their communities with the help of Funding Navigation. Here are a few of their stories.


Residents celebrate the 2019 Isleton Asian Festival in the the Asian American Historic District. Photo from the City of Isleton.

Isleton: A New Park and Downton Corridor Revitalization

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta city of Isleton has been undergoing a years-long revitalization process. Longtime resident Jean Yokotobi spearheaded an effort to create an Asian American Heritage Park, honoring the Chinese and Japanese communities who once lived and worked Isleton’s Asian American Historic District. Funding Navigation assisted Ms. Yokotobi, the City of Isleton, and their grantwriter in creating a successful application leading to a $554,000 from the Delta Conservancy for the creation of the park.

Alongside this work, Isleton has been partnering with its Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on community visioning for its downtown corridor. As the City moves to expand the community vision into a comprehensive implementation plan, Funding Navigation helped with a successful application for a Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant. This funding will help the community continue its momentum toward a walkable and bike-friendly commercial district that reflects the rich history of the Delta region.


Main Street Colfax. Photo by Gabriel Teague for Sacramento Magazine.

Colfax: Re-Centering Main Street

Located at the foothills of the Sierras, the City of Colfax has a population of 2,000 and a historic Gold Rush era downtown. City leaders took part in the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s Rural Main Streets program for support in creating a safer, more vibrant downtown with increased community gathering spaces. CivicWell conducted community stakeholder outreach and a virtual visioning workshop in partnership with Opticos Design, which then used the feedback to develop a streetscape design concept.

With the design concept in hand, the City reached out to our Funding Navigation program for assistance in creating a compelling funding application. Together we secured a $211,000 Caltrans Sustainable Communities planning grant to develop the design concepts into a full-fledged plan for implementation. This phase began in mid-2022.


Pico Rivera’s historic Whittier Boulevard is undergoing a multimodal revitalization plan.

Pico Rivera: A Transformative Vision

The City of Pico Rivera, in southeastern Los Angeles County, embarked on an ambitious grant-seeking campaign to revitalize its historic Whittier Boulevard. Its Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Southern California Association of Governments, referred the City to CivicWell and through the Funding Navigation program we helped them secure a Caltrans planning grant for $332,000. Our team is now supporting the community in creating both a Specific Plan and a Multimodal Streetscape Plan for Whittier Boulevard. Additionally, the City is implementing several other concurrent revitalization projects. City leaders have a vision for a beautiful, thriving Pico Rivera, and we are honored to play a part in transforming that vision into action.

Bring Funding to Your Community

The federal government will soon begin distributing $1 trillion in infrastructure funding over five years. These funds will be allocated to rebuilding roads and bridges, and to new climate resilience and broadband initiatives. CivicWell is committed to helping local governments and community-based organizations optimize infrastructure dollars and prepare competitive grant applications. Learn more and peruse current funding opportunities at

Photo from the Los Angeles Times.

Policy Corner

Elections have consequences is a commonly heard refrain, usually from the winners. In the case of the just-concluded midterm election, it may take some time before all of the consequences are clear. 

The results leave a picture of a divided national government, with the Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate while the Republicans won just enough seats to take narrow control of the House of Representatives. In the Senate, Democrats flipped the seat in Pennsylvania with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman’s win, and with Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto turned back challengers. The Democrats can augment their majority if Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock prevails in the runoff election in December against Republican Herschel Walker. In the House, with a couple of races still too close to call, it appears that the Republicans will ultimately hold 221 seats, just three seats more than a majority. While it appears certain that the House Republicans will undertake a host of investigations to try to assault the Biden Administration, they may be hard pressed to present a unified policy agenda, given the deep divisions among Republican members themselves.

In California, the outcome was far less ambiguous with Democrats continuing to hold every statewide elected office. Governor Gavin Newsom celebrated a convincing re-election victory and even embattled Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara rolled to easy wins. Senator Alex Padilla, appointed to the position by Governor Newsom, handily prevailed to receive a full term in the Senate. At the legislative level, with two races still outstanding in the state Assembly, Democrats continue to hold commanding supermajorities in both the Assembly and the state Senate. Even so, there will be a host of new faces in the Legislature in the coming session as an unusually large number of members were termed out, sought another office, or chose to not run for re-election.

Several local elected officials who are or have been active in CivicWell won offices at the state or federal levels. Catherine Blakespear, the Mayor of Encinitas and a current member of the CivicWell board, prevailed in a very close race in the 38th Senate District. After leading narrowly on election night, Senator-elect Blakespear built her lead to more than 16,000 votes to win by a 52.2% to 47.8% margin. In another close race, former CivicWell board member, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, bested her opponent for the state Assembly in the 27th District which covers parts of Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. The difference between the two candidates was about 2,300 votes, giving Soria a 51.3% to 48.7% lead. At the congressional level, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia swept into an open seat in the House of Representatives in the 42nd District, overwhelming his opponent with 68.4% of the vote.

Of the issues on the ballot, the greatest disappointment came from the lopsided loss of Proposition 30 by a 57.7% to 42.3% margin. The proposition, which would have raised income taxes by 1.75% on those making more than $2 million a year to provide $3.5 to $5 billion annually to fund electric vehicles and charging infrastructure as well as increasing the number of firefighters to prevent and respond to wildfires, fell victim to the outspoken denunciation of Governor Newsom and the contributions of deep-pocketed millionaires. Given the historic effort and funding needed to move Californians from fossil fueled to clean energy vehicles, the loss delivered a disheartening blow.

In the final analysis, however, many believe that the biggest winner in the election was democracy. Across the country, ballots were dotted with candidates who questioned or denied the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. With a few notable exceptions, voters rejected those candidates and preferred candidates who emphasized their commitment to democratic government and respecting the results of free and fair elections. While even a few years ago we might not have imagined that it would be necessary, it provided a welcome and reassuring affirmation.

Board Highlight

Congratulations to CivicWell Board Members on Election Wins!

We extend our hearty congratulations to current and former CivicWell board members who won state offices in the recent midterm elections. Catherine Blakespear, the Mayor of Encinitas and a current member of the CivicWell board, is now Senator-elect Blakespear. Former CivicWell board member, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, will be representing the 27th District in the state Assembly. A great showing by both!