"Excelling Beyond the Spreadsheet" - when Excel can't keep up anymore.
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Several years ago, when I was asked to write my first Economic Development Administration (EDA) Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance grant for a client, my first step was to learn as much as I could about those who would read and evaluate the application. I searched the EDA website, where I found a treasure trove of statistics, studies, demographics, economic indicators, and other information that helped make me a mini-expert on the subject.
My husband is a former swimmer who swam year-round in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona. The winners of each race were determined exclusively by time—whoever touched the wall first. Success is easy to define when using time as the unit of measurement. However, what happens when there are multiple variables that define success, as in grant writing? When variables such as time are not fixed and include people, external factors, changing organizational structure, and supplies and materials, the evaluation of success becomes more difficult to manage, and grant professionals are stuck in the crosshairs.
Here we are at the last post of this grants office series. I wish you great success as you ramp up your grants office with key stakeholders.
Now it's time to establish the office and launch. The main objective at this stage is to have a plan in place that is executable and that can be measured for success and return on investment. For strategy junkies and those that enjoy the development of the grant workplan (goals, objectives, outcomes, activities), this is the fun part. If you are not one of those, seek someone to help with the development. Sometimes the perspective of an outsider can be a grounding voice in the process.
In previous posts of this series, we assessed the need for a grants office, established next steps, and talked strategy. In order to establish a strong grants office, guiding leadership and grant directors must also look to evaluating culture—the focus of this article.
In our quest to maintain high-quality programs that provide necessary services to the greater public, grantors and grantees focus on grant seeking. This often leads to grant professionals overlooking the often taxing work of complying with the requirements and stipulations of grant-awarded funding. I realize that the feeling of receiving an award is exhilarating, but we cannot stop our grant work once the award is funded. Grant compliance is the cornerstone of grants management, and every grant professional should become well versed in this topic, whether or not this is part of your work portfolio. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has become more focused on grant compliance, and (in general) grantors have created a larger culture of oversight that requires more stringent review of grantee programs. Grantees must ensure that funds are spent in accordance with a budget provided in a grant application, programs are being measured and issues addressed as they arise, and there are individuals within a grantee organization solely focused on managing grant compliance. Grantors themselves must be careful watchdogs to ensure that the funds they allocate and used carefully, and they are maintaining accurate records themselves.
What Is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Grant Program? Authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the grant program provides federal funding to state departments of education for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic, and cultural enrichment opportunities for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, in order to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading, math, and science.
The Board of State and Community Corrections has released the RFP for city gang-fighting grants available through the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program (CalGRIP). The $9,215,000 annual grant program is designed to reduce gang and youth violence. Applications must be made by cities, which administer the grants, with funding then allocated to community-based organizations (CBOs) and public agencies that target youth, and law enforcement agencies, and probation departments that engage in suppression strategies. Of the total funding available through this program, $1 million is allocated to the City of Los Angeles through a noncompetitive Request for Application process.
Once you’re interested in a grant, there are a few steps you should take before you organize your team to apply. Determining fit and eligibility should be at the top of your list, as well as any funding restrictions, the total workload required, and due dates. At the end of the day, you want to know whether the grant is attainable and worth the investment from all angles. For those of you new to grant seeking, this blog post’s for you.