Strategic Communications Initiative:
Federal Infrastructure Investments for an Equitable Future
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), authorizes $1.2 trillion in federal funding, the largest-ever allocation for infrastructure. Alongside the other major legislation (the Inflation Reduction Act, for example), IIJA represents a once-in-a-generation, $4 trillion opportunity to support sustainable economic development, mitigate climate change, lay the foundation for high-quality jobs––and advance equity for communities of color and other underserved populations.
Despite the enormous potential for impact, little information is available on new infrastructure and other projects, and very few Americans know about the benefits their communities will reap. Trust in government remains low, especially in communities where past infrastructure projects have caused harm, from freeways isolating communities of color and people working to make ends meet to lack of access to safe drinking water.
In response, Hyphen in 2022 undertook a three-phase, non-partisan project to research and test the most effective messages for increasing the public’s awareness of equitable federal infrastructure investments. This year, Hyphen and People’s Action have teamed up to:
Ensure the public, especially communities of color, knows and values the current and potential impact of the largest federal investment in history; become engaged and connected at the local level; and strengthen their participation in civic life.
Increase the visibility of IIJA and IRA programs and resources that combat climate change and create jobs in ways that advance racial equity.
Encourage state and local governments to draw down more federal dollars and put these dollars to work towards changing people’s lives and creating more equitable outcomes, particularly for low-income workers, families, and communities.
We have piloted the combination of targeted digital ads and face-to-face organizing in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, highlighting “the three E’s”––Equity, Environment, and Economy––which resonate so clearly and deeply in our testing. Final testing of best messengers and the most effective ways to “call people to action” is under way, along with new creative development.
The project is now ready to scale, mobilizing messaging research, digital creative, and in-person organizing to build a movement around this “equitable infrastructure moment” and ensure that historic federal resources benefit underserved communities. With additional resources, organizing campaigns can be mounted in Arizona, North Carolina, and Washington.