Tag Archives: California

Sometimes a call will get you the data you need

This weekend I was working on a proposal that requires California education data. The California Department of Education has a decent data engine at the aptly-named DataQuest, so I was able to look the data up—but the data didn’t really make sense. One school in the target area, for example, had 30,700 students listed as attending. As anyone who has attended or seen an American high school knows, that number is absurd. Other data seemed off too, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I included it as listed by the website and moved on with the rest of the proposal.

This morning, Isaac was editing the draft and noticed the dubious data, so he decided to call LAUSD’s data department. A “Data Specialist” picked up the phone and lived up to his title as he explained what’s up. The school with 30,700 students is a “continuation” school and the state data is a catch-all for all LAUSD continuation students. Moreover, the Data Specialist explained that California has odd dropout rate rules, such that it’s hard to actually, really, officially drop out; instead, the school of last attendance reports that a student has stopped attending, but that student can stay on the books until the student is as old as 21.

Some California districts also have a complex patchwork of rules and regulations regarding which kids go to which schools. Charters and magnets further complicate calculating accurate dropout rate information.

The Data Specialist ultimately directed us to better, more accurate data, which we included in the proposal. And now we know the details of California’s system, thanks to the call Isaac made. Without that call, we wouldn’t have had quite the right data for the schools. What I originally found would’ve worked okay, but it wouldn’t have been as detailed or accurate.

In short, online data systems are not as good as many people (and RFPs) assume. If you get data that doesn’t seem to make sense, you need to run a sanity check on that data, just like you should with Waze. Don’t die by GPS.

By the way: When you get helpful bureaucrats, be nice to them. We’ve written about the many bad bureaucrats you’ll encounter as a grant writer (“FEMA Tardiness, Grants.gov, and Dealing with Recalcitrant Bureaucrats” is one example). But the bureaucrats who do the right thing are too rare, and, when you find them, thank them. Many actually know a lot but almost never find anyone who wants to know what they know, and they can be grateful just to find an audience.

The right phone call can also reveal information beyond the purpose of the call itself. In this case, we learned that no one has a clue as to what’s really going on with dropout rates in California. Finding charter school graduation rate data is hard. The guy Isaac talked to said that there’s some data on charters somewhere on the state’s education website, but he didn’t know where. If he, as a LAUSD Data Specialist, doesn’t know and he works on this stuff all day, we’re not likely to. Charter schools aren’t important for the assignment we’re working on, but they may be important for the next one, so that bit of inside information is useful.

EDIT: Jennifer Bergeron adds, “Be prepared when you call. The Data Specialist in our district strikes back with a barrage of questions that I hadn’t even considered each time I call. He’s helpful because his questions often make me think more specifically than I would have on my own.”

California Issues An RFA for the 21st CCLC Program, Illustrating Why You Should Remember Old Grant Programs

As we’ve written before, grant availability moves in waves, with funding rising to meet new challenges. For example, the advent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused a host of nonprofits to spring up and provide support to wounded veterans. Funders, particularly foundations, rushed to offer significant grants. With the wars winding down, it is getting harder for such nonprofits to claim urgency and foundations are likely moving on to address emerging problems.

In the government funding world, however, things are different. Congress is always ready to create new programs, such as the huge Health Navigators program and dozens of other healthcare-related discretionary grant programs created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), but it behooves nonprofits not to forget about long-standing programs. They may seem to be buried in the background as zombie grant programs, but they often retain significant funding. With the de facto replacement of federal budgets by continuing resolutions in recent years, most discretionary programs are refunded year after year, with cost of living increases.*

For an example of an old program that has lots of money and remains relevant to provide needed services, check out 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs). It’s been around since the days of Columbine but remains one of the best ways of funding after school enrichment activities. Since there has been no reduction in school shootings, bullying, and disappointing educational outcomes in general, after school programming should be of interest to nonprofits and schools. We wrote extensively about the 21st CCLC program as an illustration of federal pass-through funding two years ago and since then nothing has changed.

California just issued Requests for Applications (RFA) for its 21st CCLC Program for Elementary and Middle Schools, along with the 21st Century High School ASSETs program. There’s $36,000,000 up for grabs, Pay attention even in you’re not in California, since 21st CCLC is a federal pass-through program and funding exists in every state. If your agency is at all interested in after school programming, it’s a good idea to check with your state department of education to figure out when you can apply. A nice aspect of 21st CCLC grants is that they’re for five-year projects, so if you get a grant, you’ll be operating the project for a fair amount of time.


* There is the minor annoyance of budget sequestration, which may have some impact on discretionary grant programs but so far hasn’t been discernible to us. Besides which, it looks like the Republicans in Congress will probably trade sequestration cuts for entitlement reform in the upcoming budget negotiations. No one knows the future, but this is one plausible future.

Health Navigator Grants: The Walking Around Money Concept Confirmed

In a recent post about the new ObamaCare Health Navigators program, I said that it looks like classic grant walking around money that should be of great interest to almost all nonprofits and many public agencies, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever done any health related activities. This particular RFP is for the 34 states that are not setting up their own Health Insurance Exchanges.

The other 16 states are doing their own “thang,” to quote The Isley Brothers, with respect to ObamaCare outreach and education. In California, this effort is the wonderfully named “Covered California,” which sounds more like a teen pregnancy prevention program than something about affordable health insurance.

Just sayin’.

Last week I received a call from a prospective client who was interested in applying to the Covered California Outreach and Education Grant Program, which is California’s equivalent to the federal Health Navigators program. My caller was out of luck because the RFP process concluded in March. But there’ll be additional RFPs, so I advised him to watch the skies for the next RFP. One interesting point about the California RFP process: the organizations that submitted Letters of Intent are conveniently available at the above download link in the first sentence.

Look at the Letter of Intent (“LOI”) list and the phenomena of walking around money will be instantly illustrated. Prospective applicants included a cornucopia of nonprofit and pubic agencies, many of which seemingly have much to do with health insurance needs. Here’s a few that caught my eye in the 13 pages of would-be applicants:

The Actors Fund, Rancho Santiago Community College District, California Association of Black Pastors, Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce, San Bernardino Employment Training Agency, Union of Pan Asian Communities, Office of Small Business of the City and County of San Francisco, County of Ventura Area Agency on Aging, Partnership for Affordable Housing, Rasin City Elementary School District, Jamboree Housing Corporation, California Latino Water Coalition (who knew there was such a thing as “Latino water”), Girls After School Academy, the California Teachers Association, SIEU Locals 521 and 99, and—my personal favorite—The California Restaurant Association.

Based on a close reading of that list, it should be obvious that California organizations recognize a gravy train when they see one. As I said in my earlier post, if you like grants—and who doesn’t?—squeeze in close and get your snout in the Health Navigator trough. This free-for-all is too good to pass up.

The Existence of Drug Courts Implicitly Acknowledgement Failed Public Policy: An Example From the “Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity” Program

Occasionally, an RFP will inadvertently show how one part of the government recognizes and tries to mitigate the unfortunate effects that come from another part of the government.

We—naturally—have an example of this principle in action: readers of last week’s e-mail grant newsletter probably saw “Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity In Adult, Juvenile, and Family Drug Courts,” which offers funding “to expand and/or enhance substance abuse treatment services in existing adult, juvenile, and family “problem solving” courts which use the treatment drug court model in order to provide alcohol and drug treatment.”

Creating “‘problem solving’ courts” is another way of saying that conventional drug prohibition has failed, and conventional courts are a poor means of dealing with drugs. According to SAMHSA, they don’t solve problems; they are at best neutral, or they actually create problems. If they solved problems, we wouldn’t need new courts to solve problems.

Conventional courts, in other words, exacerbate the negative societal outcomes that drug laws impose or encourage. Right now, we’ve got a self-reinforcing legal system, because becoming involved in that system will ruin your life because the system itself will ruin your life for you.

SAMHSA realizes this to some extent. By funding “Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity In Adult, Juvenile, and Family Drug Courts,” a combination of SAMHSA staffers and Congress are implicitly admitting that drug prohibition doesn’t work, and the enforcement effort behind prohibition doesn’t work. This is fairly obvious to anyone involved in the system, or anyone who has seen the movie Traffic and read Daniel Okrent’s brilliant book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Or anyone who has read articles like “The global war on drugs has cost billions and taken countless lives — but achieved little. The scant results finally have politicians and experts joining calls for legalization.”

We, as a society, had the good sense to give up on Vietnam and now Afghanistan. Vietnam is now trying to join the global economy. The crazy system built around the “War on Drugs” helps no one except people employed as prison guards* and in other enforcement capacities. The money that we currently direct to prisons and police could be directed to treatment and prevention, while the black-market transactions that currently take place on street corners could take place in Rite-Aids and be taxed.

While I wouldn’t recommend that friends starting snorting coke every weekend, there are plenty of functional alcoholics and addicts out there. Alcoholism or drug abuse aren’t attractive lifestyles to me, but some people live them, and the second- and third-order effects of trying to stop those people are worse than the problems those people might cause by indulging in drugs or booze.

(Another note: there was $2,500,000 for this program in 2010 and almost $13,000,000 available now. This could be an example of random program funding drift, or it could say something about current federal priorities.)


* California’s guards are particularly pernicious, as “Fading are the peacemakers: One of California’s most powerful political forces may have peaked” and “Big Labor’s Lock ‘Em Up Mentality: How otherwise progressive unions stand in the way of a more humane correctional system” demonstrate. These problems are well-known to California policy wonks but too little known among everyone else.

California’s Supplemental Education Services (SES): What Gives?

California’s Supplemental Educational Services program looks a bit curious when you first study it: the grant-like program isn’t really a grant program, per se. It’s a competition designed to, as we said in the Seliger Funding Report:

apply for state approval of the applicant’s capability to provide before- and after-school tutoring to remedy academic deficiencies in low-income and at-risk youth. Once approved, the applicant can receive contracts from CA LEAs to provide such tutoring services. The SES program is a federal pass-through program and is available in all states.

(The link is ours, naturally.)

If you’re “funded”—although “selected” is a more appropriate verb here—you’ll be able to seek contracts with school districts throughout the state. Those contracts can be very lucrative. If you want to apply, however, you’ve got to do a two-step dance, and the application we link to in the first sentence is the first step.

February Links: California, Survival, Censorship, Prisons, the Unwise War on Overhead, and More

* “This is our national identity crisis in a nutshell: Do we want government spending half its money on redistribution and military, or re-dedicating itself to science, infrastructure, and health research?

* Stop Fixating on the Administrative Overhead of Non-Profits:

I’ve heard from more than one frantic foundation fundraiser who can’t raise a dime for overhead–everyone wants their money earmarked for programs. None of the donors seem to realize that even at a very well run charity, the electric bill, accountants, IT staff, grantwriters, compliance experts, investment managers, and yes, fundraisers do not actually get paid by good fairies who drop off wee buckets o’ gold at the beginning of every month. Or that unless you have all those boring-yet necessary things, you cannot actually run any programs.

* The Internet won the Congressional battle against censorship. This time.

* Funny grant fact of the day: the Family Planning Services Grants program was released on Valentine’s Day. One other curious fact about the program: it promises “grants” in the plural, yet only one award is expected.

* California dissolves redevelopment agencies.

* The Affordable Care Act continues to give; the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Research Program first appeared in 2010 and, as our subscribers know, it came back for another round recently.

* “This might seem a small thing — hey, so what if these foreign jet-setters endure some hassle? — but I think it is emblematic of some cumulatively larger issues. Americans are habituated to griping about our airports and airlines, but I sense that people haven’t internalized how comparatively backward and unpleasant this part of our “modern” infrastructure has become.”

* Do STEM Faculties Want Undergraduates To Study STEM Fields?

* Every day at my job I helped people just barely survive.

* “The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life.

* Great idea: “Legislation in Florida would allow parents to vote to restructure a public school into a private or charter model.

* Make playgrounds are safe but boring and kids won’t use them.

* For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage. This quote from the article: “Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind” reminds me of Bryan Caplan’s post “Poverty, Conscientiousness, and Broken Families,” where he says, “even when [the authors] are talking about men, low female conscientiousness is implicit. After all, conscientious women wouldn’t associate with habitually unemployed men in the first place – not to mention alcoholics, addicts, or criminals.”

* Government is not the only field in which people routinely have trouble using language.

* “How to Fight The Man:”

For generations people have been told: Think for yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive and rigorous worldview.

If you go out there armed only with your own observations and sentiments, you will surely find yourself on very weak ground. You’ll lack the arguments, convictions and the coherent view of reality that you’ll need when challenged by a self-confident opposition. This is more or less what happened to Jefferson Bethke. [. . .]

Most professors would like their students to be more rebellious and argumentative. But rebellion without a rigorous alternative vision is just a feeble spasm.

* Here’s some counterintuitive advice for literary critics: don’t read other critics before you write your review or criticism.

* Why the video pros are moving away from Apple. And I can’t blame them.

Federal Pass-Through Programs Illustrated: California Issues RFAs for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – Elementary & Middle Schools and High School ASSETs Programs

Grant writing is inherently confusing—particularly when it comes to federal “pass-through” grant programs. A pass-through program is one in which the federal government passes grant funds to state or large local jurisdictions based on an allocation formula of some sort. Let’s take a look at one such program, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC).

The 21st CCLC program started about 12 years ago as a direct federal competitive program from the US Department of Education. Essentially, this program funded and still funds before- and/or after-school enrichment activities—including tutoring, arts and crafts, recreation, cultural activities, computer skills and so forth—along with family literacy and a few other odds and ends. Think of it as more or less a standard Boys & Girls Clubs of America program.

Not surprisingly, Boys & Girls Clubs make great 21st CCLC applicants, as long as they partner with a LEA (“local education agency” in education-speak) or public school, which they all do anyway. The program was well-funded, and we wrote lots of funded 21st CCLC grants around the country. The whole exercise was straightforward because there was one pot of money with fairly large five-year grants available, one annual deadline, and one set of criteria. Of course, this simple approach was too much for Congress, and about six years ago the 21st CCLC program was transformed into a pass-through structure. While every state is guaranteed some money, the smaller states do not get all that much and each state Department of Education runs their own RFA (“Request for Applications”, which is RFP in education-speak) process. The result of this “reform” is much confusion about the program, when to apply, and on and on.

The 21st CCLC situation in California illustrates how a fairly simple program concept can become fantastically complex when the feds take the pass-through approach. Since California is huge, it gets a huge 21st CCLC entitlement. Every few years, the California Department of Education issues not one, but two 21st CCLC RFAs. The FY 2012 RFAs were issued on October 7, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – Elementary & Middle Schools program and the 21st Century High School ASSETs (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) program, the latter being for high school students. Each RFA is 65 single-spaced pages long, with lots of qualifiers, charts, and tables that are too numerous to recite here. It gets better—there are also on-line application forms. In addition to meeting the basic 21st CCLC federal and state regulations, applicants—which can be LEAs, schools, nonprofits and public agencies—have to find an eligible partner school that does not currently have a 21st CCLC program, or, if it does, the existing program has to be in the last year of operation. Since 21st CCLC grants are actually five, one-year grants, a given school and potential 21st CCLC provider might be out of synch with the application process. This makes it challenge for a non-LEA applicant to partner with the right school at the right time to get a 21st CCLC grant.

Despite the layers of complexity that the California Department of Education and other SEAs (“state education agencies”—this is an acronym-heavy post) have added to the 21st CCLC program, it remains the single best way of funding an after school program. Assuming the red tape can be surmounted, a successful applicant is reasonably assured of five years of funding that can make an enormous difference in the lives of vulnerable children and youth (free proposal phrase here).

And keep in mind that the program is available in every state, as long as you can find it and figure out the application process. To help out, here are links to the 21st CCLC in New York and Illinois. Poke around your SEA website and you should find the 21st CCLC site. Then, determine the funding cycle, line up a school partner and be ready when the RFA is issued. While your investigating the 21st CCLC program, look for state-funded analogue programs too. For example, California has the After School Education and Safety (ASES) program. I’m not sure of the current funding levels for ASES, but it wins the unintentionally funny acronym contest, although it is pronounced “aces,” not as it appears.

Illinois has the better named Teen REACH (Teen Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring, and Hope program, but children as young as seven can participate, so don’t trust public acronyms. The best of worlds is to combine a 21st CCLC program grant with a state-funded grant, which, for those of you who are old enough to remember, means you will be able to double your pleasure, double your fun.

Other pass-through federal programs, such as HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Office of Community Services’ (OCS) Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program work similarly to the 21st CCLC program, except they’re even more complicated. I’ve written a bit about CDBG and CSBG earlier and won’t put readers to sleep with more minutia about them. The key point to remember with federal pass-through funds is that applicants have to understand both the underlying federal regulations, as well as the state/local application process.

Office of Family Assistance Issues the “Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Grants Program” FOA, Provides a Generous 30-Day Deadline, and Makes Mothers Eligible

The Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance* just issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DHHS-speak for RFP) with tens of millions of dollars available and no matching requirement for the Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Grants program. This new program was apparently hidden in plain sight in a somewhat obscure piece of federal legislation named the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. In addition to resolving the wonderfully named Pigford II settlement (I am not making this up, and no, I am not going to Google Pigford II or its presumable predecessor, Pigford I), this legislation also created and funded the Fatherhood program and at least two more new competitive grant programs: the Community-Centered Healthy Marriage and Relationship (CCHMR) Grants Program and the Community-Centered Responsible Fatherhood Ex-Prisoner Reentry Pilot Project.

There is $52,00,000 available for the Fatherhood program and $57,000,000 for the Marriage program, while the ex-prisoner dads get a comparatively paltry $6,000,000. Even better, none require matching funds, which is so unusual that the fact is worth mentioning twice. It’s open season if your agency is interested in new service delivery programs, and which agency isn’t?

The only bad news is the deadline: all three were published on June 29, with July 28 deadlines. OFA is giving applicants exactly 30 days (including the Fourth of July, which is a family holiday) to write complex responses to new programs. Last year, I blogged about stupid deadlines. The only good news about a deadline like this: there will likely be fewer than usual applications due to the combination of the long holiday weekend, summer vacations, and the struggles inherent in new FOAs and regulations.

Tireless OFA workers did not forget to include a bit of unintentional humor in the Fathers FOA, which, despite its name, says that “programs funded under this FOA must offer services on an equal basis to fathers and mothers.” I guess it could have been called the Responsible Parenting Program, but where’s the fun in that? Perhaps the Prisoners grants must be provided on an equal basis for non-prisoners. There is also the minor problem of whether all marriages—if you know what I mean, and I think you do—can be assisted through marriage grant activities. If we get hired to write this proposal, I will let readers know how I dance around this potential minefield.

Enough blogging.

Unlike you civilians and federal programs officers, who will be stuffing yourselves with tofu dogs and drinking beer, I will be slaving over a hot proposal or two this long holiday weekend. I’ll take a little time out to cruise PCH in my new bright red Mini Cooper S Ragtop. If I have time, I’ll get a dog harness so my golden retriever can ride in the back, adding to the clown aspect of driving it. If I wear a Fez,** I think the look will be complete. Suggestions for 7-character personalized plates will be appreciated.


* “DHHS ACF OFA,” if you want to see the whole string. Perhaps the subagency should have been named the “Office of Assistance to Families” to improve the acronym.

** I think Steely Dan is the only rock group that worked “Fez” into song lyrics, but I could be wrong. Personally, “I’m never going to do it without the fez on.”

Surfs Up: Seliger + Associates Is Back Where We Started From (More or Less): California

A guilty pleasure during the mid-2000s was watching The O.C. with our then-high-school-age twins. Between the typical nighttime soap opera plot twists, the series produced occasional insights, had appealing actors and perpetuated the “endless summer” mythology of Southern California that we mine with good effect in counterpoint when writing needs assessments for LA-area clients. But best of all were the indie rock songs, and best of these was the theme, “California.” From an aerial position, the camera pans over incredible Newport Beach bluff-top houses during the opening credits as one-hit wonders Phantom Planet cries:

We’ve been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for #1
California here we come
Right back where we started from.

After leaving California on the day of O. J. Simpson’s slow speed-speed chase in 1994, Seliger + Associates has come right back where we started from. Well, not exactly—it’s Huntington Beach in SoCal, not Danville in NoCal, but close enough. Faithful readers will know that we and our business have migrated over the years from NoCal to Seattle to Tucson to Surf City.

When I was at Sandburg Junior High in Golden Valley, a beach-deprived suburb of Minneapolis, I was a big fan of the Beach Boys. I was even bigger fan of Jan and Dean, who recorded Surf City. To paraphrase Brian Wilson, who wrote the lyrics, now that we’ve gone to Surf City, we hope it’s “two grants for every client.”

Faithful readers will also know that when I travel by car, I observe the passing scenes of Americana with a grant writer’s eye. This relatively short move confirms that, like Mark Twain, the rumors of the death of the Great Recession are greatly exaggerated. As I did when I drove from Seattle to Tucson two years ago, I saw many signs of economic dislocation on my way to Surf City a few weeks ago—vacant and abandoned buildings and folks in broken down cars at rest areas that evoke the the Joads, although it was hard to say whether they were fleeing from or to California. Even in LaLa Land, it is obvious from empty retail and office space, car lots with few vehicles and fewer shoppers, $1 meal deals, and a dearth of help wanted signs that good times have not arrived outside the precincts of the New York Times and Federal Reserve spokespeople.

Bad economic news is, of course, good news for grant writers, as I’ve been blogging about for the last three years. Seliger + Associates has been busy churning out proposals, which is the primary reason readers have not seen a post from me for a few weeks. Now the move is more or less complete, and we’ve just about caught up with deadline obligations. I will get back to writing at least a post every two weeks or so.

There is lots of interesting news that impacts grant writers and grant seekers. Perhaps the most important is the incredible number of RFPs on the street, which will be true throughout the summer, and the reality that Congress will significantly decrease discretionary spending for FY ’12 as part of a debt ceiling deal with the Obama administration. I’ve written about the former repeatedly in recent months and will write about the latter soon. But, now, I think it’s time to power down the iMac, leave the office, go home, put on my baggies, and take the puppy to the Huntington Dog Beach, easily the best dog beach in the world, to see if the Surf’s Up:

What Budget Cuts? The RFPs Continue to Pour Out: Educational Opportunities Centers, Carol M. White PEP, HUD Section 202 & 811, Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control, and California’s Proposition 84

Faithful readers will have noticed a paucity of recent blog posts. There’s a reason: we’re fantastically busy. Despite all of the media gnashing of teeth regarding the Republican–Democratic tussles over the FY ’11 Continuing Resolutions (which was resolved a week or two ago) not much actually happened. A list of final ’11 CR reductions might total $39 billion—or is it $300 million?

Basically, nobody knows, but in the finest Washington tradition both sides can claim victory while getting back to the serious business of raising money for the 2012 campaign, as well as fulminating about the 2012 election (didn’t we just have an election?). In the meantime, federal and state agencies have opened the RFP floodgates, so as to not get caught with non-obligated funds when the next fiscal year rolls around. Quelle Horreur!!*

Here’s a tiny sample of the avalanche of grant funds that are currently up for grabs:

  • Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC): It took months, but our friends at the Department of Education finally got this one one out of the door with $47,000,000 available and a May 23 deadline. EOC grants provide academic enrichment to prepare secondary school students for college. Even better, the DOE promises to issue the RFP for the much larger companion TRIO program, Upward Bound in September or so. If your organization has trouble funding its basic mission and it is vaguely plausible at providing academic support, pursue EOC or Upward Bound. Given the dismal student academic outcomes in America, getting young people prepared for college is sure to be a growth industry in the coming years.
  • Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP): Another old DOE friend, PEP grants fund physical education and wellness services for K–12 students. There is about $37,000,000 available, with grants to $750,000 and a deadline of May 23.
  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly: HUD has $371,000,000 to build Section 202 affordable housing for seniors. The deadline is June 1.
  • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities: Another HUD warhorse, Section 811 has $114,000,000 to build affordable housing for persons with disabilities, and the deadline is June 23.
  • Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control (LBPHC) Program: LBPHC, another HUD favorite, usually has around $100,000,000 available, although HUD is keeping the total dollar amount a secret in this year’s NOFA. LBPHC grants are used to rehab affordable housing units to remove lead hazards, with grants to $3,500,000, and the deadline is June 9.
  • California Nature Education Facilities Program: To keep things interesting, I thought I would throw in a CA RFP. This nugget is funded by the $5,700,000,000 “Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006.” I know you think California is broke, but this particular budget pocket is stuffed with $93,000,000 for park and related “nature education” facilities. The deadline is July 1.

Now you know why we’re busy writing proposals and not writing as many blog posts as we usually do. There are many other RFPs on the street and lots more will be issued in the next two to three months. As I’ve blogged about many times in the last year or two, smart nonprofits and public agencies will go after the huge amount of available grant funds, instead of sitting in sack cloth and ashes and watching the Kabuki budget shenanigans going on in Washington or their state capitals.

Two years ago, when the barely remembered Stimulus Bill was in full stimulation mode, we were incredibly busy. While we are always involved in endless grant writing, we now find ourselves about as busy during a time of dire talk of budget cuts and deficits. I’m reminded of the wonderful 1960 film, Elmer Gantry.

Our eponymous anti-hero is discussing why people go to church with the cynical reporter Jim and says people come to a place like a revivalist church meeting, because “they got no money or too much money.” In our business, clients come to us because they think the government’s got too much money or not enough. Regardless of the reasoning, there are incredible grant opportunities available and applicant odds are better because so many agencies are paralyzed. Simply put, the fewer technically correct applications, the better your odds are of scoring.


*This is a nod to Jake, who is taking a French Translation grad school class and needs all the help he can get.