Monthly Archives: April 2017

Links: Job training, affordable housing, smart toilets, freedom of speech, zoning’s steep price, and more!

* “Indiana tries to certify skills rather than a college degree.”

* “Solarcoaster: The Promise and Pitfalls of Rooftop Solar Jobs.” Useful especially for job training providers. Solar technician and wind-power related jobs are popular career paths because they’re part of growing and green industries.

* Researchers replicate the Milgram Experiment. A timely piece that I wish wasn’t timely. Remember that you still have control over you.

* “Now You Can Live in a Remodeled Shipping Container: Boxouse is selling solar-powered mobile homes equipped with Alexa and is readying a smart toilet.” An interesting concept for anyone working in affordable housing, especially in rural areas. Also, it would be interesting to experience a “smart” toilet. I was reminded of Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted.

* “Middlebury’s Statement of Principle: Learning is possible only where free, reasoned and civil speech is respected.” Though lunatics make the news about academia with distressing frequency, most academics are actually reasonable. But “reasonable” is rarely newsworthy.

* “What If Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?” Sounds stupid but isn’t.

* “Americans’ Shift To The Suburbs Sped Up Last Year,” mostly because building there is legal; we are all paying zoning’s steep price.

* “Eligible founder Katelyn Gleason’s plan to upend the billion dollar medical billing industry.” That would be fantastic.

* “How the Internet Gave Mail-Order Brides the Power“—one of these counterintuitive results. We’ve worked on human- and sex trafficking projects.

* An antidote for the Affordable Care Act: Cash-only medicine with transparent pricing.”

* “Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever: Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional?” Fascinating throughout, but “immortality” strikes me as the sort of thing that will become the Cold Fusion of the 21st Century: Always 20 years off.

* “Humans produce so much stuff that we’re creating a new geological layer.” Which might be kinda cool in some ways.

* “How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive.” Unexpected throughout.

* Every attempt to manage academia makes it worse.”

* “Americans have become lazy and it’s hurting the economy,” on Tyler Cowen’s book The Complacent Class. The book is excellent and I write more about it here.

* “The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners: Demand and financing could collapse before the sea consumes a single house.” Definitely one of those, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you” scenarios.

Getting in the mood for grant writing: Illustrations from DOL YouthBuild and SAMHSA TCE-HIV

Maybe its because I’m somehow no longer 35* and might be as old as dirt, but TV ads seem entirely focused on buying/hoarding gold, reverse mortgages, probiotics, the odd Cialis couple holding hands in a bathtub and lots of others for “getting in the mood.” That got me thinking about getting in the mood for grant writing.

While getting in the mood for grant writing does not involve a little blue pill or turning on a red light bulb like Woody Allen in Annie Hall, here are some of the ways we use at the Seliger Industrial Grant Foundry and Word Works:

  • Decide if you’re an early morning or night owl writer. I like to start writing early, as my muse seems to depart around cocktail hour. Jake, however, only has one eye open until noon most days and is more of a midnight rambler writer.
  • Develop a writing pattern—say, write four hours, then go to Go Get Em Tiger for an iced macadamia milk latte, then another four hours shackled to your iMac.
  • Jake and I generally don’t use outlines, being stream of consciousness writers, and we just start writing (we use the RRP as a surrogate outline). Others may want to outline each RFP section, starting by putting the headers and sub-headers into a Word doc and then outlining the responses thematically. They may also want to find/organize the data and citations for the needs assessment (e.g. census data, labor market information, etc.). No matter how the RFP is organized or what your writing style is, you must always find a way include the 5 Ws and the H in your first draft. RFP writers often forget to ask all six.
  • As you write, keep in mind that you’re in the proposal world, not the real world. When writing the “what” section, for example, distinguish the applicant’s current efforts and future activities. The current efforts are whatever the agency is doing now that relate to the project concept, while future efforts are what the grant will fund. One way to keep this straight is to be careful with the present versus future tense. This will also help you avoid inadvertently implying the dreaded supplantation issue.
  • With respect to the “what” section, different RFPs/project concepts require different emphases. For example, in a workforce development proposal like our old DOL pals YouthBuild and Reentry Projects (RP), training sites and employer commitments are very important. In contrast, when writing a SAMHSA TCE-HIV proposal, if the agency lacks full capacity to deliver all required services, it is critical to detail the partner(s) providing HIV and substance abuse treatment.

As in all writing projects, the key to writing grant proposals is to actually complete the first draft in time to meet your deadline, no matter what your writing style and habits are. There is no substitute for doing this.


* In most fiction involving a male hero (or anti-hero) protagonist—like James Bond or most of Elmore Leonards books—the lead character is almost always described as being about 35 years old—old enough to be knowledgable, and irascible, but young enough to still be dashing and handsome.