On Wednesday, Oct. 27, Gov. Phil Murphy and the N.J. Division of Local Government Services  announced that applications are now being accepted for the next round of Local Efficiency Achievement Program grants.

LEAP provides financial assistance to local government entities, such as counties, municipalities, school districts, authorities and fire districts across New Jersey to identify, study and implement shared services initiatives. A portion of these grants is set aside to fund school consolidation and countywide school district studies. A total of $10 million was included in the 2022 fiscal-year state budget to fund the LEAP program.

The LEAP program is comprised of three primary components: challenge grants, implementation grants and county coordinator fellowship grants. Each component is described below. Applications, program guidelines and detailed information about the LEAP Program is available here.

Challenge grants potentially allocate funds to the most compelling projects in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, affording municipalities, authorities and counties the opportunity to compete for grant funding to support efficiency-generating shared services. This grant program is designed to promote innovation among peer communities and counties across New Jersey, and challenge municipalities and counties to collaborate on more extensive partnerships that produce shared services of greater significance than is customary.

Local government units are invited to compete for a share of $150,000 in available funds. Each of New Jersey’s counties, municipalities, school districts, commissions, authorities and fire districts may apply. Any two or more of these entities may submit a joint application seeking funding for a proposal.

The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2022. For further details,  see the grant guidelines and application.

Implementation grants allocate funds to help cover costs associated with shared services implementation, including one-time reimbursable costs for project completion or transition support that may include, but are not limited to, new technology costs incurred as part of equipping a shared services program, rebranding costs, equipment and vehicle outlays, professional services, rent for facilities, payroll system conversion costs and training. Funding is based on the total transition or implementation cost of a project.

    • Important Note: This grant program also provides for reimbursement of costs associated with school consolidation and countywide school district studies that support the creation of meaningful and implementable regionalization plans. K-12 regionalization and countywide school district studies will be given priority.

Local units are invited to apply for a share of $3.8 million to offset hard or soft start-up costs related to an implemented shared service initiative. Local units also are invited to apply for a share of $2 million for costs associated with school consolidation studies.

The application process for implementation grants is a rolling one with no specific deadline. Although there is no deadline for submission, potential applicants are reminded that limited funding is available under the applicable 2022 appropriation, and any award of funds in the 2022 fiscal-year funding cycle must be made on or before June 30, 2022.

For further details,  see the grant guidelines, grant application, and the grant school feasibility study application.

County coordinator fellowship grants allocate $50,000 to each county for the purpose of hiring a fellow to work full time with the county and each local unit within the county or any entity with whom they may be able to share services to identify and advance shared service opportunities.

Each New Jersey county is encouraged to apply for a $50,000 grant for the purpose of funding a one-year full-time position.

The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2022. For further details please see the grant guidelines and application.

Requests for information about LEAP Grants may be directed to the following email address: leapgrants@dca.nj.gov.