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Links: Microgrants programs, dynamism, the CDC during the pandemic, grant performance, and more!

* “So you want to build a microgrants program.” In this, Scott Alexander notes: “(2) Most people are terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE grantwriters.” That’s why we have a business: this stuff is hard. Telling effective stories is hard, especially when having to respond to confusingly worded RFPs. Scott Alexander’s RFPs don’t suffer from that problem, but he still seems to have found terrible grant writers. Many people who are great at doing what they do are simultaneously poor at explaining to others what they do and want to do. We help with that.

* “Building American Dynamism.” One might ask what a typical organization is doing to do that.

* Failures of the CDC as an agency. This is consistent with our interactions with most government agencies; organizations working with most government agencies get things done in spite of those agencies, not because of them. Michael Lewis has a good book, The Fifth Risk, that also discusses these issues.

* “College professors have a right to provoke and upset you. It’s a part of learning. Whether from the right or from the left, calls to silence faculty voices on America’s campuses are inconsistent with the values of a university.” Seems obvious to me, though I quaintly still think it important to encourage students to think, without telling them what to think.

* Emergent Ventures’ life-changing actions. I doubt we’ll ever seen governments fund this way, or most foundations fund this way, but it’s great to see someone doing it. Funders should experiment more and signal to their peers less.

* “A Multigenerational Home in Amsterdam Can Be Reconfigured for Changing Demands.” This is the sort of thing that overly restrictive mandatory single-family zoning in the United States prevents. Much of the U.S. tech and entrepreneurial sectors are creative, fast-paced, and adaptive, while anything related to land use and housing is slow, sclerotic, and ossified. We can and should do better. Still, some large homebuilders like Lennar offer flex-space options to create more or less a small, second unit within the house with a bath, kitchenette, and separate entrance—in jurisdictions that allow this, creating a multigenerational but “single-family” house. The better solution is to legalize missing middle housing everywhere, but, again, sclerosis is the rule.

* “Moth minds: a software grant platform for investing in individuals or others.” We talk a lot about the process of applying for grants, but it’d also be interesting to make the process of giving out grants easier. Re-using infrastructure is good and useful. Existing foundations have whatever infrastructure they’ve cobbled together, and individuals can randomly cut checks, but there’s very little between the two. This is an effort to be between those two structures; it’s somewhat like Fast Grants or Emergent Ventures, it would seem.

* “Alumni Withhold Donations, Demand Colleges Enforce Free Speech.” Something like the University of Austin might be an alternate choice for donations.

* “The global pandemic has deepened an epidemic of loneliness in America.” See also me on Lost Connections, which deals with what the title suggests from a pre-pandemic frame.

* “How to keep your organization out of culture wars.” What’s your focus? You can only have one. Choose it well.

* “The Quiet Scandal of College Teaching.”

* The Arc Institute is “for curiosity-driven biomedical science and technology” and it’s got “open positions for Technology Center group leaders, research scientists, and operational staff” right now. It’s designed to be on people more than particular projects. Like many of the links in this batch, Arc is trying to improve how we fund science and other projects in the United States. It’s hard to look at our pandemic response and think we’re doing things optimally.

* “Alexander Berger On Philanthrophic Opportunities And Normal Awesome Altruism.”

* “Burn the Universities and Salt the Earth.” An overstated rant, but not wholly inaccurate, either.

* “Battery Storage Soars on U.S. Electric Grid: Falling costs and green mandates are boosting demand for batteries capable of storing large amounts of wind and solar power for later use.” All those SBIR/STTR Dept. of Energy proposals we’ve written are bearing fruit. Now we’ll have to see if flow batteries make it: most existing battery installs are li-ion formulations. If your organization is seeking R&D funds for renewable energy and batteries, call us.

* More on ClimeWorks, a firm attempting to scale carbon capture and storage. If you know anyone who says they’re seriously concerned about climate change, ask if they have a ClimeWorks, Project Vesta, or similar subscription (I do). The answers will be revealing.

* “Hospitals Still Not Fully Complying With Federal Price-Disclosure Rules: Some healthcare systems post incomplete pricing data or nothing at all.”

* Against Identity Politics.

* “Democrats’ college degree divide: More educated Democrats are more progressive across the board.” This seems important but also under-emphasized.

* We’ve put up a bunch of landing pages related to grant writing, which will not be of interest to most of you.

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