The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic upheaval exacerbated existing inequities in Fort Collins’ economy that persisted through the early stages of recovery. In advance of receiving funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), local leaders realized they needed a way to evaluate potential projects and initiatives to ensure that distributed funds would further City goals, which included closing disparity gaps and supporting equitable recovery.
In response, the City of Fort Collins engaged TIP Strategies to prepare an inclusive recovery framework that would assess the extent to which funding proposals aligned with the City’s priorities for investing ARPA dollars. The resulting three-part framework was informed by national best practices and was built around the City’s Budgeting for Outcomes process and definitions and its equity indicators. The central component was an evaluation matrix that described each funding proposal’s ability to advance a range of priority and supplemental considerations using one of three designations: advances, neutral, or opportunity. Proposals designated as positively impacting or advancing an issue were designated “advances;” those that could be more intentional in their impact were labeled “opportunity.” The evaluation matrix was not intended as a final directive or guarantee of approval. Rather, it created a forum to better understand the impact of a funding proposal and to identify areas of future improvement that would ensure the greatest community benefit. The other two elements of the framework were a definitions section (which included an explanation for each priority and supplemental consideration) and a metrics section (which provided guidance for reporting and measuring the success of a funding proposal).