Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) Justice for Families program and grant writers

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) Justice for Families program RFP is released annually, usually in the first quarter of the year, and the most recent solicitation was released on Jan. 19, 2022– there is $39 million available to fund 24 grants of up to $650,000/year for three years.

OVW programs date back to the Clinton era and have been tweaked periodically since. They have varying amounts of funding split among a number of programs and, perhaps strangely, given that the office is called the “Office of Violence Against Women,” men can be served under the Justice for Families program (the priority population includes gay men). Furthermore, most OVW solicitations include non-discrimination language provisions, and say that “The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act prohibits OVW grantees from excluding, denying benefits to, or discriminating against any person on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex[….]” So OVW proposals, including Justice for Families, should include that kind of language, even if, in the real world, Justice for Families programs tend to provide services for the target population as originally intended—women. What a given RFP says, and what happens in the real world, often differs. Writing successful grant applications demands reading between the lines of solicitations and, in some cases, suspending reality.

While many kinds of organizations are eligible applicants for the Justice for Families program, including public agencies, Indian Tribes, nonprofits, and institutes of higher education (IHEs), there is a catch. At a minimum, the applicant must propose a partnership involving a nonprofit organization and a court. Still, this is not so unusual, as most RFPs require that the applicant form a partnership or collaborative and demonstrate that with letters of commitment or memorandums of understanding (MOUs) attached to the grants.gov WorkSpace application.

Unlike most grant programs, however, the Justice for Families program doesn’t list mandatory activities; instead, it has six required “purpose areas”, out of eight “purpose areas” originally envisaged in the underlying legislation. Confused yet? You’re likely not alone. The current, eligible “purpose areas” include “supervised visitation and safe exchange;” “training for court-based and court-related personnel;” “juvenile court resources;” “court and court-based programs and services;” “civil legal assistance;” and “training within the civil justice system.” Many activities aren’t eligible, too, and those should be left out of the project narrative. Overall, the Justice for Families program is a promising one for many human services applicants and the RFP is sufficiently complex to merit seeking help from an experienced grant writer in preparing an application.

Seliger + Associates has written numerous funded DOJ grants, including OVW grants, and we can write your entire Justice for Families program proposal, or edit your draft, for a reasonable flat fee—call us at 800.540.8906, ext. 1, or email us at seliger@seliger.com for more details.