Tag Archives: marriage

Generalized human and social services: ACF READY4Life and Fatherhood FIRE RFPs

Astute newsletter readers saw two useful Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Family Assistance (OFA) RFPs with lots of money available (albeit with overly long names) in our last edition: Fatherhood – Family-focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential (Fatherhood FIRE) and Relationships, Education, Advancement, and Development for Youth for Life (READY4Life). Both have grants to $1.5 million for family formation and resilience services. A phrase like “family formation and resilience services” should make smart nonprofit Executive Directors sit up and take notice, because we’ve seen fewer overt generalized human services grants over the past few years—the kind of grants that we sometimes call “walkin’ around money.

Smart organizations figure out that these kinds of grants can be used to fill in the cracks of an organization’s budget, because the project concepts that can be funded are broad. Also, in most cases, only a process evaluation (e.g., number of outreach contacts made, number of referrals, etc.) is feasible, since there’s usually no way to tract outcomes. In the ’90s and ’00s we saw more broad, general-purpose RFPs, but we’ve seen fewer since the Great Recession. The feds seem to have lost interest in many kinds of general-purpose grants and have instead been targeting particular services, like primary health care and job training.

Many organizations are already doing things like fatherhood and family development, but without calling their activities “fatherhood and family development.” Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), for example, often serve low-income patients who are impoverished by single parenthood, usually in a female-headed household. Nimble FQHCs should apply for READY4Life, Fatherhood FIRE, and similarly nebulous grant programs, since they can re-brand their existing Case Managers and Patient Navigators as “Family Support Coordinators” and “Parenting Specialists.” Obviously, the FQHC wouldn’t say as much in the proposal—that would be supplantation—but, in the real world, a lot of organizations keep their lights on and their clients happy using these strategies.

Organizations apart from FQHCs should be doing this too. Job training and homeless services providers, for example, often work with populations that need family reunification training, and the organizations are already often providing wraparound supportive services. Funders love synergistic proposals that say things like, “We’re going to do job training services for ex-offenders, and those ex-offenders will also be eligible for Fatherhood FIRE services in order to ensure that they remain in their children’s lives.”

Increased funding for generalized human services typically follows some kind of seismic societal shock. Seliger + Associates began in 1993, soon after the Rodney King verdict civil unrest, which was soon followed by the onset of mass school shootings with Columbine. Then came the Great Recession: the feds respond to social turmoil with huge new grant programs (21st Century Community Learning Centers was an example) and big budget increases for existing programs (like the 2009 Stimulus Bill). With the COVID-19 crisis, the cycle is repeating. Since March, three giant stimulus bills have been passed, with at least one more likely. The enormous civil unrest and protests unfolding after the recent police killing of George Floyd will likely lead to grant programs too; the feds’s objective is to get grants on the streets quickly to nonprofits, which act as a kind of buffer to politicians.

With growing “defund the police” sentiment in big, left-leaning cities, politicians are engaging in a sort of bidding war with proposed police budget cuts; politicians say some version of, “We want to redirect huge amounts of police budgets to solving the underlying problems that generate crime.” Translated, this means, “We plan to fund local nonprofits to conduct some kind of human services.”

May links: Tesla Batteries, Family Structure and Grant Writing, Responsible Fatherhood Opportunities for Reentry and Mobility, Is Sex Mostly About Pleasure?, and More!

* “Freedom, Tesla-Style: The company’s new home-based battery isn’t just nifty. It’s liberating.” This may be the most important link. YouthBuild grantees should think about including “Tesla Energy installer” to their curriculums. Affordable housing organizations should also be thinking about local energy issues.

* “Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat.” To call this system “insane” is an understatement. Even calling it a “system” might be overly kind.

* Considering the link immediately above and immediately below, check out the “Responsible Fatherhood Opportunities for Reentry and Mobility and “Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Grants” programs. They’re both responses to the kinds of links you’ll see in this post, and they’re part of the contemporary grant wave around family structure. Pay close attention to the ramping up presidential campaign and you’ll also hear a lot of rhetoric about family and family structure. Regardless of who wins, new grant programs are likely to follow.

* “Walter Scott, child support defendant murdered by cop, earned about $800/month.”

* “If We Dig Out All Our Fossil Fuels, Here’s How Hot We Can Expect It to Get.”

* “Social Liberalism as Class Warfare“—or, points that are too infrequently made. This ties much more into questions about family than you may expect.

* Nutritional Science Isn’t Very Scientific: The research behind dietary recommendations is a lot less certain than you think. Just about the only obvious thing is “Don’t eat refined carbohydrates,” like sugar and white rice, and eat vegetables and nuts.

* “What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?” Not that it’ll happen in the U.S. in my lifetime.

* The Steady Rise of Bike Ridership in New York.

* “Is Capitalism Making Us Stupid?“, a brilliant article with a stupid title.

* Givewell.org’s advice for donating to disaster relief.

* Building streets for humans rather than cars could help solve the affordable housing crisis.

* Did anyone else notice how much of this post is about family and relationships structure? It wasn’t intentional. We’re just grabbing the links we notice and that people send us.

Links: LED Bulbs, Condoms, Education, News is Bad For You, Marriage, Detroit, Foundations, Congress and ObamaCare, and More!

* Great news: we’re (slowly) moving toward a world where education looks at competency, not hours with ass-in-seat. This is flying under the radar of the national press but is hugely important, especially for nonprofits involved with education.

* Get LED lightbulbs. I use Switch LED bulbs, which are ludicrously expensive upfront but pay for themselves within a couple months.

* Possibly related to the above, Human extinction is an underrated threat.

* “News is bad for you [. . .] The real news consists of dull but informative reports circulated by consultancies giving in-depth insight into what’s going on. The sort of stuff you find digested in the inside pages of The Economist. All else is comics.”

* Last year we posted “Have you seen a Federal agency request a low-quality program?“, and this week we saw another example in HUD’s “Transformation Initiative: Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program,” which says that the NOFA offers “researchers the opportunity to submit grant applications to fund quality research under the broad subject area of sustainability.” This would be far more notable if the program offered money for low-quality research.

* “The Shadowy Residents of One Hyde Park—And How the Super-Wealthy Are Hiding Their Money.” I don’t think I’d want to live in a $5M+ apartment even if I had the money for it.

* How marriage changes relationships and gender dynamics (maybe); actual title includes the phrase “the boob test.”

* Seattle Needs to Welcome Growth and Get Over Itself.

* Detroit locals unhappy about the manager who is supposed to clean up the mess made by politicians elected by Detroit locals.

* What are foundations for? A theoretical discussion of problems many of you experience on a daily basis.

* “A Childless Bystander’s Baffled Hymn;” sample: “Why all the choices — ‘What would you like to wear?’— and all the negotiating and the painstakingly calibrated diplomacy? They’re toddlers, not Pakistan.”

* Austin gets Google Fiber, becomes a more attractive place to live.

* American Indians move to cities and face new challenges.

* Women and the crab basket effect.

* “New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves.” File this under “Calling Captain Obvious.”

* The future of U.S. space policy, a topic that is under-discussed yet very important. This might be related to “News is bad for you,” above.

* Is China covering up another flu pandemic?

* “Will Congress exempt itself from ACA exchanges?” If so, this tells you more about the exchanges aspect of ObamaCare than any statement on the part of Congresspeople could.

* “One look at why income inequality is growing,” hat tip and headline tip Tyler Cowen.

* “Why still so few use condoms;” spoiler: because it doesn’t feel as good.

* “Topless Jihad: Why Femen Is Right.”

* “Nobody Walks in L.A.: The Rise of Cars and the Monorails That Never Were” but should have been.

* “Who Killed The Deep Space Climate Observatory?” This story, along with pathetic “Superconducting Super Collider” debacle, is the sort of thing that, if the U.S. really does take an intellectual and cultural backseat to the rest of the world, will be cited by future historians as examples of how the U.S. turned away from the very traits and behaviors that made it successful in the first place. “Who Killed the Deep Space Climate Observatory?” is also an example of how the real news is very seldom the news you read in the headlines.

* “Documentary ‘Aroused’ explores what makes women turn to porn careers.”

* David Brooks: “Engaged or detached?” “Writers who are at the classic engaged position believe that social change is usually initiated by political parties [. . .] the detached writer wants to be a few steps away from the partisans. [. . . ] She fears the team mentality will blinker her views.” Read the whole thing because the context is important, but as a writer I lean heavily towards the “detached” point of view.

* “[A]rtists and writers love to cast gigantic stores as misbegotten cathedrals.” I’m guilty as charged.

July 2011 Links: Public Pay, L.A. Charter Schools, Penelope Trunk, Medicaid and CHCs, Beans up the Nose, and More

* Top Colleges, Largely for the Elite, mostly overlook low-income students. File this under, “Seems obvious, nice to have proof.”

* In California, Many Police and Firefighters Get $100,000 Pensions:

Efforts to reform California’s public employee pension system got a boost Wednesday from a Sacramento Bee investigation that unearthed some staggering numbers. “Almost 9,000 retirees in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System receive at least $100,000 in annual benefits,” the newspaper reported. The figure is being seized upon by critics of state worker compensation, who point out that the median taxpayer in the Golden State earns just $56,000 per year.

* How I Failed, Failed, and Finally Succeeded at Learning How to Code.

* Someone found us by searching for “grant writing cartoons.” I’m not aware of any grant writing cartoons (or comics), but this could be a good subject for a contest.

* Someone else found us by searching for “nutria horror movie,” which I would encourage any filmmakers among our readers to make.

* Walton Foundation gives $12 million to L.A. charter schools. Given the news and fears about jobs issues, don’t be surprised if basic education issues become a major grant wave.

* Why GM Couldn’t Be Apple, According to a Former GM Exec. This is actually about creativity and corporate culture.

* Penelope Trunk: “The Joys of Adult Sexting.”

* Boutiques:

The programs in question are typically “boutique” offerings: labor-intensive, expensive, narrowly targeted, and small. Some of them originated through grants, and others developed as local projects championed by someone who made it his baby. Typically, the folks who direct or otherwise lead these programs are convinced that they’re doing God’s work, and if you look only at their own program in isolation, they often are. They can produce passionate testimonials from program alums on a moment’s notice, and they can produce statistics showing some sort of positive outcomes. They work hard, mean well, and touch lives.

So what’s the problem?

They can’t scale up.

This comes from a college context, but the principle applies in grant writing too.

* Speaking of that very issue: Beware the Stunning Pilot Program, from Megan McArdle:

With pilot programs, you always have to be on the lookout for the Hawthorne effect: people being studied often change their behavior in response to the fact of being studied, not to any particular intervention. The effect gets its name from a factory where researchers were studying the effect of lighting on worker productivity. What they found was that both raising and lowering the light level caused productivity to increase–the workers were responding to the researchers, not the lights. It’s not hard to imagine that a parent who is informed that their child is part of a Very Important Childcare Study might change their parenting in response.

* Marriage, with Infidelities, an NYT discussion of Dan Savage.

* The Committee for Public Harrumphing will hold an open hearing this Friday. I will be speaking on the topic of RFPs.

* Most Illinois Specialists Won’t Take Medicaid Patients. We’ve worked for lots of CHCs / Section 330 providers who observe this problem.

* Don’t always trust what you read in the press, James Fallows edition.

* No matter how much you try, you can’t stop people from sticking beans up their nose.

* The bicycle dividend, which may occur in part because there’s lots of low-hanging fruit, so to speak, in creating bike lanes, while pretty much every area that could be efficiently paved for car traffic already has been.

* Cisco helps China spy on its citizens. I wonder what it would’ve done during the Holocaust.

* Health care stagnation, and an explanation of why expensive treatments often don’t do much on a macro scale.

* Attention to the person who searched for “sample proposals for pathway to responsible fatherhood grant:” the program is brand new. Unless there was a pilot program / RFP, no one has written one yet. We’ll probably have the first complete draft of a Responsible Fatherhood or Community-Centered Healthy Marriage and Relationship proposal, and we’re definitely not uploading it to the Internet.