This article is to help your department/organization with grant application planning for the Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program, also known as Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). The next solicitation is not yet on the Department of Justice (DoJ) – Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) website; however, it is never too early to start preparing for this highly competitive grant application. Click here for the previous NOFA to assist you with early planning and research.
What is the purpose of this grant funding?
The purpose of PSN is to reduce gun crime and gang violence by the most violent offenders in the most violent neighborhoods by employing a research-driven, intelligence-led, and problem-solving approach to reduce firearms and gang violence through enforcement, deterrence, and prevention. BJA is seeking proposals from applicants interested in developing innovative, comprehensive, data-driven approaches to reduce chronic gun crime and/or gang violence in their jurisdiction. BJA expects agencies to work toward a plausible, scientifically-based finding indicating that a solution had either an effect or no effect on the problem. The involvement of a research partner is indispensable to achieving this result.
The PSN grant will fund strategies for high-performing and evidence-based programs where the need is greatest and where districts' most violent neighborhoods are being addressed.
Who can apply for this grant?
Eligible applicants are PSN task force fiscal agents for the U.S. Attorney districts and federally recognized Indian tribal governments as determined by the Secretary of the Interior. All fiscal agents must be certified by the relevant U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO). Eligible fiscal agents include states, units of local government, educational institutions, faith-based and other community organizations, private nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments as determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
What are the required design features for a PSN Program?
There are five PSN design features that all PSN grant applicants should address in their application. The five design features (abbreviated for this article) are:
- Partnerships – The PSN Program is intended to increase partnerships among federal, state, and local agencies through the formation of a local PSN task force.
- Strategic Planning and Research Integration – PSN is a problem-solving program, based on a strategic planning process in which jurisdictions should define the specific components of their gun crime and/or gang violence problem with the help of proactive crime analysis, and research data- and design-focused strategies to target these problem components through enforcement/prosecution, deterrence, and prevention.
- Training – A core component of PSN is its provision of training opportunities to local district task forces to assist them in the effective implementation of all aspects of the program.
- Outreach – This PSN component involves both local and national outreach efforts
- Accountability and Data-Driven Efforts – This element emphasizes that PSN will focus on outcomes such as reduced gun crime and gang violence, as opposed to a focus on outputs such as arrests and cases prosecuted.
How can a grant application be considered highly competitive?
PSN should be a part of an overall comprehensive community strategy. Successful applicants will work closely with one of BJA’s national PSN training and technical assistance (TTA) partners (currently MSU), to assist districts with incorporating intelligence-led, research-based policing as a fundamental element in their response to crime. Also, consistent with the Attorney General’s stated priority on officer safety, PSN task forces should note that PSN funding can be used to address critical law enforcement officer safety concerns related to PSN target areas and activities. This includes identifying specific officer safety threats related to PSN targets and activities, addressing such threats through improved analytic capabilities locally or through the relevant state and local fusion center, improved situational awareness and information sharing, providing needed training, and protective equipment for state, local, and tribal officers not otherwise available. Applicants must demonstrate a direct nexus to PSN in order for these expenses to be considered. It is also strongly encouraged that PSN task force enforcement operations/events (e.g., surveillance, warrant service, undercover operations, take downs, and staging areas, etc.) be deconflicted through the DOJ-funded RISSafe Deconfliction System and other no-cost systems where applicable. Remember, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) places a strong emphasis on the use of data and evidence in policy making and program development in criminal justice.
What is the grant award range?
In 2014, BJA published that it would fund up to 12 awards of up to $150,000 to $500,000 each for an estimated total of a 24-month project period.
- Category 1: USAO district populations of 5 million or more. Contingent upon the availability of funds, awards of up to $500,000 will be made.
- Category 2: USAO district populations of 2 million – 4,999,999. Contingent upon the availability of funds, awards of up to $300,000 will be made.
- Category 3: USAO district populations under 2 million. Contingent upon the availability of funds, awards of up to $150,000 will be made.
- Category 4: Federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native tribes, and/or tribal organizations. Contingent upon the availability of funds, awards of up to $150,000 will be made.
How long will successful grant applicants have to fully develop their PSN strategic plan?
In past competitions, they had three months.
What’s required in the grant application narrative?
The following sections should be included as part of the program narrative:
- Statement of the problem
- Project design and implementation
- Capabilities and competencies
- Plan for collecting the data required for this solicitation’s performance measures to assist the Department with fulfilling its responsibilities under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. Applicants that receive funding under this solicitation must provide data that measure the results of their work done under this solicitation.
How can you start planning now for a PSN application?
Contact OJP to inquire about the funding status of this grant program (check their website for relevant contact information). Also, contact your congressional team members to let them know that you’re tracking this money for its 2016 funding allocation and that your community plans to apply. Start collecting the same documentation that was required for the 2014 NOFA. It’s better to have more research that you need than to have nothing ready with 45 days or less to research and write the grant application narrative. Also, consider getting a third-party vendor on board to assist in multiple pre-planning, research, and writing tasks!