Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Three Things to Know about Grants in 2018

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 @ 09:01 AM
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Happy New Year from all of us at TheGrantHelpers.com. We want to help you start off the new year with some important updates and tips about the grant world.

But before discussing more general areas, here is one specific opportunity that just opened. Lowes Toolbox for Education has announced its spring cycle. K-12 public and private schools, as well as parent-teacher groups, are eligible to apply. Projects should fall into one of the following categories: technology upgrades, tools for STEM programs, facility renovations, and safety improvements. The deadline for submitting applications for this grant cycle is Feb. 9.  However, if 1,500 applications are received before the application deadline, then the application process will close.

  1. Get Organized Now for the New Year

Lots of organizations, especially federal grant-making organizations, have already laid out a schedule of their grants for the new year. Some are already accepting applications for the spring cycle. For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has its 2018 Forecast of Funding available here. Now is the best time to get pertinent dates on your calendar and get your boilerplate documents updated. Review the timelines for your likeliest funding sources, and prepare to apply well in advance.

  1. New Way to Apply for Federal Funding

Grants.gov has rolled out a new way for groups and individuals to apply for federal grants. This has been a two-year transition, and on Dec. 31, 2017, the legacy PDF application package was officially retired. In the past, applicants downloaded and completed a single, big PDF application package that contained all the forms (i.e., the “legacy PDF application package.”) To work as a team, you had to email the file back and forth while making sure all contributors were using the same version of Adobe software. The new Grants.gov Workspace program is intended to make collaborating on an application very efficient and easy. Forms can either be completed online within a web browser or downloaded individually and uploaded to Workspace. According to the Grants.gov blog, applicants who have already used the new program say it is making the process faster and more streamlined.  For more information and tutorials on how to use the new program, visit the Grants.gov blog.

  1. Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants may not be funded in 2018

The heavily subscribed COPS grant may be on the chopping block this year. This Department of Justice grant program provides money to law enforcement agencies for a variety of needs, including hiring new police officers, testing new strategies, and purchasing technology. In recent years, money was also set aside toward curbing the opioid epidemic and addressing gang violence. In 2017, the COPS office allocated of $98.5 million to fund 802 police officer positions for the next three years. However, a working White House budget showed the elimination of the entire COPS office. The COPS hiring program is not listed by name in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and very little information is being shared. We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated on its status.


We can help you get organized and prepared to apply for grants or find grants that will fit your needs. See our widerange of services, and then contact us for a free initial consultation.

Topics: federal grants, federal funds, federal grant, application tips, grant application tips, grant tips, COPS, COPS grant, Grant Writing Tips, Grant Writing and Planning

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.

Topics: education, homelessness grants, budget, educational funding, education grants, education funding, educational grants, grants for education, federal grants, HUD homes, homelessness, grants for housing, HUD grants, transportation grants, government grant budget, government spending, education grant, government grant, grants for agriculture, FY2016 budget, grants, transportation, grants for transportation, TIGER program

Federal Education Grants

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, May 30, 2014 @ 08:05 AM

Federal Education Grant ProgramsAny educator knows that it is never too early to start planning for next year. While the traditional school year is currently coming to a close, TheGrantHelpers.com highlights the following federal educational grants that may be of interest to educators and the non-profit organizations that provide support to schools and students. All of these highlighted grants are from the United States Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). Generally speaking, state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and non-profit organizations are invited to apply for these grants.

 

School Climate Transformation Grants (for SEAs or LEAs)

The School Climate Transformation Grant Program offers grants to both state and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs). These grants support the development, enhancement, or expansion of systems that support “an evidence-based  multi-tiered behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students.” School climate can be positively affected by reducing bullying behavior, reducing the number of suspensions, improving students’ social skills, and more, all of which have a link to greater academic achievement.

Funding Specifics: Grants to SEAs will total 18 awards and average $400,000 each. Grants to LEAs will total 200 awards and average $118,000 each.

Due: 6/23/14

 

Project Prevent Grant Program

The Project Prevent Grant Program awards grants to LEAs to “increase their capacity to help schools in communities with pervasive violence to better address the needs of affected students and to break the cycle of violence.” This program is based on the idea that children experience long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm when they are exposed to violence, either as victims or witnesses.

Funding Specifics: Grants to LEAs will total 20 awards and average $487,500 each.

Due: 6/30/14

 

Innovative Approaches to Literacy

The Innovative Approaches to Literacy program supports programs that develop and improve literacy skills of children from birth through 12th grade. Early literacy, motivating older children to read, increasing student achievement through school libraries, and distributing free books to families are some of the programs that are encouraged.

Funding Specifics: There is little information available at this time. A full release of information is expected on 6/18/14.

Due: Final applications are expected to be due 7/18/14. However, there might be a separate deadline for notice of intent to apply. Be sure to check the program’s full information once it is made available.

 

TheGrantHelpers.com has educational experts who can help your school or organization achieve your funding goals. If you need assistance finding grants, applying for grants, or meeting tight deadlines, we can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

 

Image credit: Judy Baxter

Topics: education funds, education grants, education funding, federal grants, education grant, federal grant, federal funds, federal education grants

Grant Scams: What You Need to Know

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, May 2, 2014 @ 15:05 PM

Grant ScamsIt is a harsh truth of today’s world – scams surround us. Unfortunately, the world of grants is not devoid of individuals who try to take advantage of others. In fact, we recently fielded some questions from individuals who wanted to know whether or not a particular grant they had “been awarded” was legitimate. One of our Grant Helpers even got a scam call! As he recounts, "The caller announced that I had been selected to receive a $9,000 grant from the government as a result of paying my taxes on time. I had to provide a 'security deposit' of $250 to receive the grant." The caller even said he was with Health and Human Services and gave their address in Washington, D.C.

Needless to say, our Grant Helper did not provide any bank account information, nor did he pay any $250. Instead, he reported the incident to the Fraud Hotline at the Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services (contact information below). In this blog article, we offer you some main clues to indicate potential scams. We also offer some suggestions on what to do if someone tries to scam you.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a website of various scams, including grant scams. You can learn more about grant scams and what is happening in regards to government grant scams by visiting the FTC’s webpage.

What to Watch Out For

  • If you did not apply for a grant, then anyone who claims you received one is almost certainly trying to scam you. Grant-making organizations rarely if ever award grants to individuals, and they certainly do not have a list of citizens that they choose from to randomly award thousands of dollars.
  • Government grants to individuals are pretty much non-existent. If you get a phone call saying that you have been awarded a federal grant, you are almost certainly being scammed.
  • A required fee to claim an award is not a standard practice. Be suspicious of any award that requires up-front fees to apply or to claim.
  • “Free Grants” to pay for education, home repairs, debt, etc. are another popular scam. Any that guarantee you will be accepted are especially suspicious.
  • The “U.S. Office of Federal Grants” does not exist, yet anyone can call and claim to be from this office.
  • Some scammers disguise their phone numbers or area codes to look like the call is actually coming from Washington, D.C., but in fact, these calls can be coming from anywhere in the world.

What to Do

If you receive a phone call that you believe is a scam:

  • Do not be afraid to probe the caller for information. Ask:
    • What agency are you from?
    • What is the address?
    • Is there a phone number I where can call you back?
    • Where should I send my information?
  • Report the information to the Inspector General Fraud Hotline at (800)447-8477(800) 447-8477. Some scams are so popular, that the Inspector General has given them their own menu item in its automated phone system.
  • Above all else, be sure not to provide the caller with any personal information. This includes your social security number, bank account information, address, other phone numbers, place of employment, etc.

This could all be summed up with the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” Be wary in any circumstance of callers or services offering you something in exchange for personal information or bank account information. If you ever have a question about whether or not an offer you have received is a scam, or if you need assistance in anything grant related, please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our experts will be happy to help you.

 

Image credit: Rennett Stowe

Topics: grant trend, federal grants, grant scams, grant tips, grant hints, grant fraud

Types of Federal Grants

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 @ 16:04 PM

Types of Federal GrantsNot all federal grants are created equal. Mandatory grants and discretionary grants each come with separate sets of rules and criteria. In this blog article, we highlight some of the key features and differences of each and provide you with examples of these programs.

 

Mandatory Grants

Mandatory grants come from spending that is dictated by the legislation that authorizes it. Mandatory spending exists mostly in the form of “entitlement” spending, which means the government is legally required to provide funds to eligible organizations. This spending can be “capped” or “uncapped” and be made by direct or annual appropriation. Uncapped spending costs are determined by the number of eligible participants, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

 

Discretionary Grants

Discretionary grants come from spending that is determined through the government’s annual appropriations process. These grants include block grants, which have fixed funding for general purposes and are distributed to states by a formula, and categorical grants, which have a more specifically defined purpose. Formula grants, a type of discretionary grant, are non-competitive and are predetermined by a formula that considers various factors such as population, income, etc. Project grants are competitive and require fixed project dates, services to provide, and other additional elements.

Being competitive, project grants allow applicants, to write proposals directly to the government agency with the funds. One example in the transportation realm is the TIGER grant, via which the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has funded over $4 billion in projects since 2009.

The USDOT has number of formula grants as well, including the Rural Program, part of the MAP-21 legislation. With these grants, money is made available to the states to support public transportation in rural areas. To access these funds, cities need to work with their state departments of transportation.

Discretionary programs receive funding through a two-step process. First a program is created by enactment of legislation, which specifies the maximum amount of to be spent on such funding.  Next, the program is funded through an appropriations process. It is possible that programs would have been previously funded but will “run out” of funding if it is not renewed or currently authorized. Examples of discretionary grant programs include Community Services Block Grant, Community Health Centers, Head Start, etc.

 

Does the type of funding matter? It certainly can. Most mandatory grant programs are exempt from sequestration and budget cuts, although they do require an authorization. Furthermore, organizations cannot apply for grants directly from mandatory programs. In the case of a government shutdown, mandatory programs will continue, provided that their authorization is current. Discretionary programs can continue without receiving authorization, but the budget for these programs is set each year by Congress. Formula grants are usually channeled through state departments, so working with the state is critical to obtaining formula funds. Project grants are open, and organizations can apply for them directly to the federal government with a grant proposal.

It is good to know how funding is awarded and made available. When counting on federal dollars as a part of your program’s or project’s budget, it might be helpful to consider whether or not those dollars will always be there or whether they will be at the mercy of Congress and/or yearly budget cuts made by your state. If you need help sorting through the types of grants and requirements for which you are interested in applying, please contact us. Our experts would be happy to help you get on the right track and avoid any unwelcome surprises.

 

Image credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

Topics: municipality grants, federal grants, types of grants, grant writing hints, municipality grant, Grant Writing Tips, federal spending, municipality services