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State Assistance Program and Other FEMA Grants

Background & Authorities

State Assistance Program Process

Eligibility & Funding

Guidance, Reports & Best Practices

FEMA administers several grant programs intended to reduce the risks to people and property posed by natural hazards. Although these programs are not dedicated exclusively to earthquakes, they can be valuable sources of funding for risk reduction efforts targeting earthquakes or earthquakes and other hazards at state or local levels.

Below is information about FEMA’s National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) state assistance grant program, including current eligibility and application guidance.

See Other FEMA Grant Programs

FEMA NEHRP State Assistance

The FEMA National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Earthquake State Assistance Grant Program was created to increase and enhance the effective implementation of earthquake risk reduction at the local level.

Background And Authorities

As authorized by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–124), as amended in 2004 (Public Law 108-360) and as required by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–307), it is the mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in cooperation with other agencies participating in National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), "to reduce the risks of life and property from future earthquakes in the United States through the establishment and maintenance of an effective earthquake risk reduction program."

In support of this mission, Public Law 115-307 directs FEMA to operate a program of grants and assistance to enable states to accomplish various eligible earthquake safety and mitigation activities, including assistance to multi-state groups. The FEMA NEHRP State Assistance Grant Program has two separate funding opportunities. Both the Individual State Earthquake Assistance (ISEA) and Multi-State and National Earthquake Assistance (MSNEA) funding opportunities are designed to increase and enhance the effective implementation of earthquake risk reduction at the national, state and local level.

Individual State Earthquake Assistance Program

FEMA awards non-competitive, grants to eligible states and territories with high to very high seismic risks to fund one or more of the following allowable activities. The purpose is to support the establishment of earthquake hazards reduction programming and the implementation of earthquake safety, mitigation, and resilience activities at the state and local level.

1. Support Seismic Mitigation Planning
States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to develop, update, or enhance the seismic components of the mitigation planning process. This may include development and analysis of seismic vulnerability data (excluding earth science research) and collaborative workshops to develop seismic mitigation strategies and support their implementation.

2. Develop inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and Lifeline Infrastructure States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, execute and manage property inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and lifeline infrastructure, including residential housing.  

Grants may fund milestones such as planning, training, field data collections and inspections, data analysis and management, report formulation, staffing and other actionable and measurable tasks in support of eligible activities. 

FEMA NEHRP recommends the use of FEMA 154 Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards as a method for initiating local building inventory projects and ATC 20 Post Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings for seismic safety inspections.

3. Update building codes, zoning codes, and ordinances to enhance seismic safety
States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, develop, update, adopt and communicate local building codes, zoning codes and other community development ordinances to enhance seismic safety. 

Grants may fund milestones such as staffing, code development and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. Funding may be used to train local building code officials in support of eligible activities.  

Based on the lessons learned from historical U.S. disasters and the recent Alaska, California, Puerto Rico and Utah earthquakes, building and zoning codes play a critical role in improving community resilience. Building codes benefit public safety by ensuring that buildings and non-structural elements are built or rehabilitated to a design that would withstand or minimize damage and prevent losses and injuries should an earthquake occur.

FEMA strongly encourages states and territories to consider investing in this allowable activity. For more information, visit the International Code Council website at www.iccsafe.org.

4. Increase earthquake awareness and education
States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to plan, develop and implement local earthquake awareness and education activities that assist the public in preparing for, mitigating against, responding to and recovering from earthquakes. 

Grants may fund developing outreach or marketing plans, educational or informational materials or online tools, staffing, workshops, and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. 

FEMA recommends that the states and territories consider the earthquake guidance and materials already available on FEMA.gov and NEHRP.gov when developing local earthquake awareness and educational materials.

5. Participation in emergency management exercises that substantially benefit earthquake mitigation efforts
Emergency management exercises can provide opportunities to build partnerships and demonstrate the value of incorporating earthquake mitigation into comprehensive pre and post disaster emergency management planning. These activities can also be used to increase public awareness of earthquakes and to stimulate behavioral changes to foster a self-help approach to earthquake mitigation and preparedness.

6. Promotion of earthquake insurance
States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding for education, awareness and outreach activities that promote the purchase of earthquake insurance by property owners. Materials and communications developed using FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding cannot promote or create the appearance of promoting a specific vendor or insurance company.

7. Assistance to multi-state groups for the purpose of supporting any or all allowable activities under this funding opportunity                      
States and territories may use FEMA NEHRP Individual State Earthquake Assistance grant funding to provide funding to Multi-State Groups for the purpose of supporting the activities allowed under this funding opportunity. This may include funding staff, documentation, meeting logistics, travel, and other actionable and measurable tasks in direct support of this allowable activity. All funding for Multi-State Group(s) support will be provided through the use of subawards. For additional information on subawards, see Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2, Section 200.92, Subaward.

Available Funding And Eligible Applicants

Eligibility for the Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding opportunity is limited to those states and territories determined to have a High or Very High earthquake risk. This determination is compiled annually by FEMA NEHRP as part of the State Assistance Target Allocation List. The List is based on the combination of the Seismic Design Category and Annualized Earthquake Loss contained in FEMA 366 HAZUS-MH Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States.

States and Territories that are eligible to apply for the Individual State Earthquake Assistance funding opportunity, must provide a required 25% non-Federal cost share. States and Territories may use third party “In-Kind” contributions to satisfy the non-Federal cost share.

States and territories may also receive assistance through FEMA’s National Earthquake Technical Assistance Program (NETAP) .

Noncompetitive grants have been chosen as the funding mechanism for Individual State Earthquake Assistance because eligible recipients are identified based on seismic risk levels.

Multi-State and National Earthquake Assistance (MSNEA)

FEMA awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education that possess the critical skills necessary to develop and implement regional (multi-state) and/or national earthquake risk mitigation activities.

In accordance with the MSNEA Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), awardees are selected by a national review panel comprised of FEMA NEHRP subject matter experts (SMEs), who evaluate each applicant’s experience, proposed work plan, deliverable schedule, anticipated outcomes and proposed budget.  A detailed list of multi-state and national activities is included in the NOFO which is linked in the annual guidance section below.  

Annual Guidance

Performance Report

Additional Resources

Other FEMA Grant Programs

FEMA administers several grant programs intended to reduce the risks to people and property posed by natural hazards.

Mitigation Best Practices

Read about examples of real earthquake risk-reduction projects, some of which were funded through the earthquake-relevant assistance programs.