Planning Grants

The Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) is a state-funded program created in 1992, originally named the Treasure State Endowment Program. It was established to help solve serious health and safety problems and assist communities with the financing of public facilities projects. The program helps local governments with infrastructure planning as well as constructing or upgrading drinking water systems, wastewater treatment facilities, sanitary or storm sewer systems, solid waste disposal and separation systems, and bridges.

The 2023 Legislature has appropriated funding for MCEP infrastructure planning grants for the 2025 Biennium through House Bill 11. The MCEP infrastructure planning grant program is accepting 2025 biennium applications now. The application cycle will remain open until funding is allocated.

Due to the unprecedented infrastructure funding opportunity created by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, MCEP infrastructure planning grants in the 2025 biennium have a maximum grant amount of $40,000 with a minimum match of 20% of the total project cost. Match for MCEP construction grants remains 1:1 for the 2025 biennium.

The MCEP infrastructure planning grant program encourages applications for all the same types of projects as it has in past biennia but, in the 2025 biennium encourages cities, towns, counties, and water and sewer districts to engage in long-range infrastructure planning by prioritizing applications for Capital Improvement Plans (CIPs) for grant awards. 

For the 2025 biennium only, applicants can apply for, and may be awarded, up to four grants:

  • Two (one per type) for a water, wastewater, stormwater and/or solid waste system Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) (e.g. an application for a water system PER and a stormwater PER but not for two water system PERs),
  • One comprehensive Capital Improvements Plan (CIP), and
  • One bridge system CIP OR bridge PER.

For more information related to who can apply for a MCEP planning grant, please visit the MCEP Application Guidelines. If you need help accessing the manual or any other assistance, please reach out to division staff via our online contact form.

Eligible Projects

Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER) for:

  • Drinking water systems
  • Wastewater treatment facilities
  • Sanitary or storm sewer systems
  • Solid waste disposal & separation systems
  • Bridges

Comprehensive Capital Improvements Plan (CIP)

Eligible Applicants

  • Incorporated Cities or Towns
  • Counties
  • Consolidated governments
  • Tribal governments
  • County or multi-county water, sewer, or solid waste districts
  • An authority as defined in 75-6-304, MCA.

Additional grant funding is available for the 2025 Biennium Montana Coal Endowment Program Grants for American Rescue Plan Act-eligible applications. 

Updated Process! Effective immediately, there is a new process to submit your grant application through the Montana Grants and Loans Portal. To submit your application through the new Montana Grants and Loans Portal, please watch the instructional video below.
If you are a new applicant, you must register first, for which you can use this step-by-step guide.

2025 Biennium Planning Grant Guidelines & Application (Word) (PDF)

If you have difficulties submitting your application or have any questions, please contact division staff via our online contact form.

Applying for a Montana Coal Endowment Program (MCEP) Planning Grant Online

MCEP grant recipients are required to enter into a grant agreement with Commerce. Commerce will establish a termination date in the contract. Infrastructure Planning grant contracts won’t be extended past the contract expiration date unless reasonable progress can be shown. Grant recipients that have not procured an engineer or professional services within six months of a signed grant agreement will cause the grant to be terminated, unless the grant recipient can demonstrate substantial progress in obtaining an engineer or planning professional.

Grant recipients must be in compliance with the state’s auditing and reporting requirements provided for in 2-7-503, MCA.

No MCEP funds will be appropriated for the 2025 biennium until after July 1, 2023.

Commerce will reimburse the MCEP grant recipient a maximum of 50% of the total grant amount for incurred expenses within 30 days of receipt of an approved draft infrastructure planning document. A draft PER must generally address each item required in the PER outline as presented in the most current edition of the . While it is not expected that the document will be complete, it must show clearly that all applicable items required for a PER are being addressed and that the engineer is proceeding toward the preparation of a complete and acceptable final product.

Commerce reimburse the MCEP grant recipient the balance of the grant within 30 days of receipt of an approved final document for any additionally incurred expenses not claimed in the first payment. The final version must be complete and have been reviewed by Commerce staff; an electronic version of the final product will be required.

Grantees that plan to submit a MCEP Project grant application should contact Community MT Division staff for guidance on environmental requirements.

For guidance on Preliminary Engineering Reports and Capital Improvements Plans, please visit the Toolkit page.