Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Two Ways To Stretch Your Construction Funds

Posted by Carol Timms on Thu, Oct 4, 2018 @ 15:10 PM

ConstructionConstruction and renovation projects often result in unexpected expenses. When those projects involve energy improvements, schools, local governments and non-profits can employ a variety of funding sources to stretch project budgets. In addition to grants, it is useful to include utility incentives and performance contracting. 


Utility Incentives

Utilities often offer a variety of incentives for the installation of energy efficient equipment and lighting.  These incentives often apply to renovation and new construction projects. Contact your local utility to determine what incentives are available. 

Performance Contracting

Performance contracting is considered a budget neutral solution. Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) first conduct energy audits to determine projected energy and maintenance savings resulting from the elements of the project. They then offer a guaranteed projection of savings. Project costs are not paid up front but, rather, are treated as installment contracts or leases. The client pays in installments using energy and maintenance savings. If the guaranteed savings are not achieved in any given period, the client doesn’t pay for that period. 

In addition to the benefits of paying with savings, performance contracting also offers the following benefits:

  • Single Contract – Accredited ESCOs manage the construction process
  • Fixed Price – The contracts specifically state there will be no change orders
  • Guarantees – If energy savings aren’t as predicted, the client doesn’t pay for that time period
  • Energy Savings Continue After Contract Ends
  • Clients Benefit From a Relationship With a Trusted Energy Advisor 

Some ESCOs also provide customer service after the sale including grant writing services.


When planning a construction project, contact The Grant Helpers to assist you in developing your funding portfolio.  Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.

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Grant Funding Requests in FY 2016 Federal Government Budget

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 @ 15:02 PM

President Obama recently released his $4 trillion Fiscal Year 2016 federal budget, documenta wish list of items he wants to pursue in his last full year in office. It’s only a wish list because it must be passed by politicians on both sides of the aisle. After that, any approved amounts have to be turned into funding programs and announcements.  So while this budget is anything but definite there are several points of interest for the grant world. Theoretically, you will have plenty of time to prepare for any resulting requests for proposals. FY 2016 is from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016.  

With this time frame, you might wonder what to do with this information now. In a word: alignment. Although FY2016 funding programs will not be announced until later this year, you can be aware of trends in funding, and prioritize your programs that are more likely to lie in the funding stream. With that in mind, we offer the following gleanings from the budget proposal, so you can be moving programs toward fundability.    


Department of Agriculture

  • The USDA may have a change in one of its biggest grant programs, according to the budget. $30 million has been allocated for a new grant program, the Rural Business Development Grant Program. This new program combines the Rural Business Enterprise and Opportunity programs into a single entity. The USDA said that this change will increase the effectiveness of the program as well ensuring communities have access to technical support and economic development funding.

  • Municipalities looking for funding to build facilities can look forward to the $50 million slated for the Community Facilities Grant Program.

  • Allocated funding has more than doubled for Rural Economic Development loans and grants in the proposed budget.

  • The budget includes $550 million in competitive research grants. This includes two new multidisciplinary agricultural research institutes dedicated to nanocellulosics and biomanufacturing research. 

  • The budget also proposes to double the amount of current funding for broadband grants, ensuring rural households have access to high speed internet.

  • A new competitive grant program at land-grant institutions will help address food and agriculture challenges at both the regional and national levels.

Department of Education

  • This budget includes a proposed increase of $1 billion for Title I Grants to school districts, for a total of $15.4 billion.

  • There is another step toward preschool for all children with $750 million proposed for Preschool Development Grants Program. This is to help states develop and expand preschool programs.

  • Grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) would receive an increase of $175 million in the proposed budget. This grant program supports special education and related services.

  • The budget also includes $773 million, an increase of $36 million, for English Language Acquisition grants for English Learners.

  • The Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports states and school districts to implement comprehensive human capital systems that develop, support, reward, and advance teachers and principals based on evaluations and student learning, may be expanded. There will be an additional $350 million for that program.

  • The proposed budget sets aside $13.9 million for the proposed Teacher and Principal Pathways program which will award grants to institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations to improve teacher and principal preparation.

  • School technology would also get a line in the budget with $200 million set aside for an improved Education Technology State Grants Program.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • A total of $2.5 billion will be used for the Homeless Assistance Grants Program if the budget is approved. This program aims to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among veterans and families. This includes $309 million to support 15,000 additional families through rapid rehousing and 25,500 new units of permanent supportive housing targeted to the chronically homeless.

  • A new housing program is mentioned in the budget as well. $300 million has been earmarked for the new Local Housing Policy Grants Program. These grants will be awarded to municipalities to increase economic growth, access to jobs, and housing affordability.

Department of Transportation

  • Funding for transit and passenger rail programs could increase to $23 million when approved.

  • The budget also focuses airport grants to support smaller airports that do not have access to additional revenue or other sources of capital.

  • Approximately $6 billion over six years has been allocated for a competitive grant program designed to create incentives for state and local partners to adopt critical reforms in a variety of areas, including safety and peak traffic demand management.

  • The competitive TIGER grant program has been given $1.25 billion once the budget is approved. The program helps states and communities with transportation projects.

  • $6 billion over six years has been set aside for a competitive grant program, Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation, designed to create incentives for state and communities to adopt critical reforms in a variety of areas, including safety and peak traffic demand management.

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