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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.

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September 2010 Links: HRSA Section 330 Grantees, The Technocracy Boom, Hilarious Federal Program Titles, Why Grant Writing is So Hard, and More!

* Cash-Poor Governments Ditching Public Hospitals, a phenomenon that HRSA section 330s grantees are no doubt already familiar with.

* The Golden State’s War on Itself: How politicians turned the California Dream into a nightmare.

* Your government at work: The Department of Commerce has released the “Grants to Manufacturers of Certain Worsted Wool Fabrics” program, which is not a headline from the Onion or a Monty Python skit, but is obviously essential to nation’s well-being.

* Also in “Your government at work” (an ongoing series): the USDA released the “People’s Garden School Pilot Program,” which sounds like something out of China (“People’s Liberation Army“) or Soviet Russia.

* The Technocracy Boom:

When historians look back on this period, they will see it as another progressive era. It is not a liberal era — when government intervenes to seize wealth and power and distribute it to the have-nots. It’s not a conservative era, when the governing class concedes that the world is too complicated to be managed from the center. It’s a progressive era, based on the faith in government experts and their ability to use social science analysis to manage complex systems.

I’m not sure it’s true, but at least it’s an unusual argument.

* Pretty much everyone on the Internet has linked to this article on Greece, written by Michael Lewis (think Moneyball) and full of astonishing tidbits that do not bode well for the country’s future.

* Awesome: In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars.

* Also about cars: Free Parking Comes at a Price, which has been obvious for a while now but mostly unacknowledged by politicians.

* Most hilarious recent RFP title: “Shrubby Reed Mustard – Reproductive Success and Affects of Roads” from the Department of the Interior. Send your nominations to me.

* The runner-up: “Reinvigorating HIV Prevention for Men who have Sex with Men” program, which proves that someone at the NIH has a sense of humor.

* Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds, evidently without having read Grant Writing Confidential first.

* How Censoring Craigslist Helps Pimps, Child Traffickers and Other Abusive Scumbags.

* Measuring colleges for what they do instead of who they enroll: finally!

* What Social Science Does—and Doesn’t—Know: Our scientific ignorance of the human condition remains profound.

* The U.S. is bankrupt and we don’t even know it (maybe).

* Five myths about prostitution, which could also be named, “What Belle de Jour got right.”

* Speaking of wired programs, the “Affordable Health Care Act Infrastructure to Expand Access to Care” has one grant for $100M for “a public research university in the United States that contains a State’s sole public academic medical and dental school.” That could be the University of Washington. But I bet that whoever it is, knows it’s going to get the cash.

* Someone found GWC by searching for “why is writing a grant so hard”. The answer: read all of GWC and you’ll start to realize just how many nuances there are to a good proposal.