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STRATEGIES FOR BETTER GRANTWRITING. Dara M. Lum, J.D. Lauren J. Bierbaum, Ph.D. Characteristics of a Successful Grant Proposal . Respond to funder’s interest and program priorities Provide a clear and convincing rationale Offer a defined and compelling plan of action

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STRATEGIES

FOR

BETTER

GRANTWRITING

Dara M. Lum, J.D.

Lauren J. Bierbaum, Ph.D.


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Characteristics of a Successful Grant Proposal

  • Respond to funder’s interest and program priorities

  • Provide a clear and convincing rationale

  • Offer a defined and compelling plan of action

  • Present a credible statement of anticipated results

  • Demonstrate expertise

  • Make a reasonable request for resources to do the job

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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Elements of a Successful Grant Proposal

  • Cover letter

  • Abstract or program summary

  • Introduction

  • Problem or need statement

  • Plan of action

  • Program budget and budget narrative

  • Organizational qualifications (or resumes)

  • Leadership and staffing information

  • Performance measurement or evaluation plan

  • Sustainability plan

  • Conclusion

  • Addenda

** Remember these are general elements of a grant proposal.

Always follow the funder’s specific format!


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Cover letter

  • A concise overview of the amount of funding requested and purpose of the grant

  • Printed on organization’s letterhead

  • Signed by executive director

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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SAMPLE COVER LETTER

Dear Funder:

NOLA Afterschool respectfully submits its proposal to the Z Foundation Youth Program for $25,000 to support its leadership program for young people ages 15-18.

NOLA Afterschool is an innovative program working individually with youth in high school to develop employment, literacy and leadership skills. We offer a variety of programs that serve community members of every age and background. This particular proposal seeks funding for one of our most important programs: our Youth ACHIEVE program. This program is the cornerstone of our organization and our strategy to foster self confidence and success among low-income children and teenagers.

We look forward to exploring future partnership possibilities with you. Thank you for considering our request. Please call ______, our Development Director, if you need additional information.

Sincerely,

Executive Director


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Abstract or Program Summary

  • Explain to the funder the purpose of your grant request

  • Demonstrate your organizational capacity

  • Establish how your project fits with the funder’s mission and goals

  • Indicate the amount requested

  • Usually no more than one page, and often shorter

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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SAMPLE PROGRAM SUMMARY

With over five years experience serving low-income high school-age youth, NOLA Afterschool seeks to expand its Youth ACHIEVE leadership program. Over the next year, the leadership program will involve 50 seniors from T High School to develop and implement a service learning project in the MidCity neighborhood. A service learning project is an opportunity for youth and adult mentors to solve real life problems that directly affect the neighborhoods, schools and communities they live and learn in. Example of service-learning projects include growing an urban garden, cleaning and revitalizing a park, or creating a reading program for younger children. Youth who participate in the service-learning project will gain self-esteem, feel more responsible for their community, and be more enthusiastic about learning. The program will be evaluated through pre- and post-youth surveys, attendance in the program and at school, and graduation rates. The total cost of the project is $35,000.


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Introduction

  • Brief statement that presents background information (history, mission/vision, and goals) and a clear rationale for your proposed project.

  • Demonstrate your expertise and understanding

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with research and the best practices in the field

  • Establish your credibility!

  • Leads directly into statement of need

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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Statement of Need

  • What is the problem, what are its causes, and what are some potential approaches or solutions to the problem?

  • Who in your community is affected by the problem that your program will address?

  • What other programs or initiatives are aimed at this program and why is your program needed?

  • What are your project’s goals and desired outcomes?

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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SAMPLE PORTION OF A STATEMENT OF NEED

There is a strong need for a teen Youth Program in New Orleans. Currently, there is little infrastructure in New Orleans to support safe places for youth ages 13 – 18 to be during the out-of-school hours. New Orleans’ young people have experienced tremendous upheaval and transition during the two years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As the city rebuilds, youth afterschool programs are critical to address the current lack of opportunities for older youth. Currently, only a handful of providers in New Orleans work directly with this age group, offering youth an inadequate amount of structured activities outside of school. The Youth Program is a new opportunity to engage youth across the city.

Many youth living in New Orleans must thrive in a challenging environment. Orleans Parish, that comprises New Orleans, is one of the poorest regions in Louisiana. Prior to Katrina and the subsequent displacement of thousands of children and youth, 37% of childrenunder 18 were living in families with incomes less than the federal poverty threshold.

The educational landscape has significantly changed post-Katrina. Currently, there are 32,887 public school students enrolled in Orleans Parish, with 83% eligible for free and reduced lunch. Ninety-five percent of public school students are minority, primarily African-American. Many students attending school have inadequate books and supplies, unaddressed mental health needs, special education needs and attend schools in buildings damaged and in disrepair. Unfortunately, there are currently no statistics to accurately predict the number of out-of-school children and youth currently living in the city.

In addition to a critical lack of youth programs and services, there are also barriers to youth employment and access to public transportation. Almost three years after Katrina, only 19% ofbuses are operating and less than 50% of the original routes are covered by public transportation. Many youth lack the necessary knowledge and skills, particularly reading, math, and computer skills, to obtain viable employment.


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Where to find local data?

  • Greater New Orleans Community Data Center and The New Orleans Index Summary of Findings http://www.gnocdc.org/

  • LA Department of Education Data and Reports

    http://www.doe.state.la.us/LDE/pair/1419.html

  • Agenda for Children http://www.agendaforchildren.org/home.htm

  • The Times Picayune

  • US DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

  • And don’t forget…

    The Afterschool Partnership www.gnoafterschool.org

    2008 Fall Afterschool Provider Survey

    Monthly e-newsletters with national research

    Contact Dara with a specific research question

    New research web page (in progress) - what do you need?


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Local information

  • Statistics provide information on who is living in our community and what challenges our communities are facing:

    • 321,466 total population in Orleans Parish (Times Picayune, July 2008)

    • 32,877 students enrolled in public schools (NOLA Index, 2008)

    • 83% eligible for free and reduced lunch (NOLA Index, 2008)

    • In 2005, 46.7% homicide victims in New Orleans were under the age of 24 (US DOJ BJS)

    • In 2000, Louisiana’s teen pregnancy rate was 62 teenage births per 1,000 girls between ages 15 and 19 (2000 US Census)

      Target population of children not be served:

  • 25% of children and youth are on their own after school according to national data…

  • Survey the schools, neighborhoods, and communities you serve…


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Post-Katrina data unknowns

  • Okay to state the unknowns of post-Katrina data.

  • For example, we will not know how many children 0-18 years old are living in Orleans Parish until the 2010 Census data is collected.

  • Using 2000 U.S. Census Data is unreliable. But can we estimate same percentages?

    • 321,466 (July 2008)

  • 2000 U.S. Census data population percentages by age

    • Under 5 years 8.4%

    • 6-11 years 9.2%

    • 12-17 years 9.1%

      Total is 26.7%. But we know that the demographics changed, and this estimate is not statistically reliable.

  • We do know # of enrolled school-age children.


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2008 Survey: general landscape of afterschool in New Orleans

  • A few key data points we hope to find out from the 2008 survey:

    • Current number of afterschool and youth programs in Greater New Orleans

    • Locations (sites) of afterschool and youth programs

    • Number of youth being served (and thus an estimate of the number of youth who may need to be served)


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Create a Plan of Action

  • Align funder’s priorities with program design, implementation, outcomes and evaluations

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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Program Priorities - focus of the grant

Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds

For After School Education and Safety Programs, The Finance Project, August 2007


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National research: youth development

  • An analysis of 73 afterschool studies concluded that afterschool programs using evidence-based approaches were consistently successful in producing multiple benefits for youth, including improvements in children's personal, social and academic skills, as well as their self-esteem. (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2007)

  • Researchers at Johns Hopkins University conclude that two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. The summer learning gap begins in elementary school, accumulates over the years and, once students get to high school, results in unequal placements in college preparatory tracks and increases the chance that children from low socio-economic families will drop out. (American Sociological Review, Vol. 72, April 2007)


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National research: juvenile justice

  • More than 14 million school age children (25 percent) are on their own after school, including 40,000 kindergarteners. Only 6.5 million K-12 children (11 percent) participate in afterschool activities. (Afterschool Alliance, 2004)

  • The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m are the peak hours for juvenile crime, victimization, and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2002)

  • Children in LA’s BEST afterschool program attend school more often and report higher aspirations for finishing school and going to college. LA’s BEST participants are 20 percent less likely to drop out and are 30 percent less likely to participate in criminal activities. Researchers estimate that every dollar invested in the LA’s BEST program saves the city $2.50 in crime-related costs. (UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, June 2000, December 2005 and September 2007)

  • Nine in 10 Americans want all children and teens to have some type of organized activity or safe place to go after school. (Afterschool Alliance & Lake, Snell, Perry & Assoc. 2004)

  • Teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly 3 times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also 3 times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and are more likely to drink, smoke or engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)


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National research: education and academic success

  • Students in programs supported by The After-School Corporation improved their math scores and regular school day attendance compared to non-participants. High school participants passed more Regents exams and earned more high school credits than non-participants. (Policy Studies Associates, July 2004)

  • Participants in Citizen Schools’ afterschool programs are much more likely to go on to high-quality high schools compared to non-participants (65 percent vs. 26 percent). Those who attend often are also more likely to be promoted to tenth grade on time (92 percent vs. 81 percent). Earning promotion to tenth grade on time is a key predictor of high school graduation. (Policy Studies Associates, December 2006)

  • Annual performance report data from 21st CCLC grantees across the country demonstrate that students attending 21st CCLC programs improve their reading (43%) and math grades (42%). Students who attend 21st CCLC programs more regularly are more likely to improve their grades and their performance on state assessments. (Learning Point Associates, November 2007)

  • The Promising Afterschool Programs Study, a study of about 3,000 low-income, ethnically-diverse elementary and middle school students, found that those who regularly attended high-quality programs over two years demonstrated gains of up to 20 percentiles and 12 percentiles in standardized math test scores respectively, compared to their peers who were routinely unsupervised during the afterschool hours. (Policy Studies Associates, Inc., 2007)

** Be cautious when stating outcomes related to standardized tests…


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National research: 21st Century skills

  • There remains a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills demanded for the 21st Century. Students need to learn academic content through real-world examples, applications and experiences both inside and outside of school. (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2003)

  • The use of technology in afterschool programs can facilitate skill building that may lead to higher academic achievement, while being engaged in projects that seem very different from their school day activities. (California Community Technology Policy Group, 2002)

  • Other research suggests that applications focused on multimedia projects, which are often highly attractive to teens, can lead to success in high-order thinking, problem solving, and synthesizing different points of view. (American Youth Policy Forum, 2005)


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National research: expanded learning time

  • Expanded learning time is a school reform strategy that lengthens the traditional school day or year by providing tutorial, enrichment and youth development oriented afterschool programs. (The Collaborative for Building After-school Systems, 2008)

  • Public school initiatives in other urban areas across the nation effectively build afterschool systems as a critical component to learning because research has repeatedly shown that students who participate in after-school programs improve their grades and school attendance, and are more likely to graduate. (Afterschool Alliance, 2008; Harvard Family Research Program, 2004)

  • Keeping schools open longer to meet the needs of students makes sense, but schools alone cannot provide young people with the comprehensive learning opportunities necessary to support their success. (Afterschool Alliance, 2007)

  • Changing the outcomes for New Orleans students requires a redesign of the learning day to provide each child with multiple ways of learning throughout their community. (C.S. Mott Foundation, 2007)


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National research: afterschool strengthens communities

  • Strategic partnerships with schools, community centers, other community- and faith-based organizations leverages limited resources to serve more children and youth

  • In the report What We Know Works (2003), the Pew Partnership for Civic Change compiled current research on the most effective strategies to promote and ensure healthy families and children, thriving neighborhoods, living-wage jobs and viable economies. Afterschool programs are number three on the partnership's Top Ten List For Community Success:

    • "Create quality and affordable after-school care. … Children who participate in quality after-school programs are much less likely to use drugs and alcohol, to have sex, or to be involved in criminal activity than their peers who go home to empty houses in neighborhoods that are not safe. Participation in after-school programs is linked to improved school attendance and academic performance.” (Afterschool Alliance, 2008)

  • Community schools are recognized worldwide as an innovative educational reform that produces powerful results….The primary goal of our community school strategy is twofold: to provide children with the supports they need to succeed in school and become happy and productive adults; and to promote change throughout the educational system. (The Children’s Aid Society, 2007)


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Using the national research to frame outcomes and goals

  • Not a comprehensive list, but some of the outcomes measured in afterschool:

    • Commitment and interest in school

    • Increased attendance

    • Self-esteem

    • Social skills

    • Decision-making

    • Health, obesity, physical activity

    • Positive behavior

    • Positive relationships with adults

    • Preventing crime

    • Safe places for children and youth


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Additional program design considerations

  • How your program supports and engages parents and caregivers

  • The community partners who will assist and support your program

  • Your staff and professional development

  • Impact on youth over time

  • Using evaluations to create data for grant-writing…


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What is program evaluation?

“Program Evaluation” is a process for gathering feedback about what your program offers, how you do the things you do, and for whom; as well as what kind of impacts your program has on your clients, their families, and our communities.

2 Types of Evaluation Processes:

Measures of Effort help you to understand what your program does, to develop a sense of it looks to outsiders, and to capture the things you do beyond your main efforts.

(sometimes called Process Evaluation)

Measures of Effect help you document and track changes in your participants’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors.

(sometimes called Outcome Evaluation)


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Program Evaluation sounds daunting, but….

You’re probably already doing a number of things that would be considered “program evaluation” by funders.

  • Case management – records of clients visits, notes on topics discussed, issues worked on

  • Records of behavioral or safety violations

  • Attendance information

  • Communications – newsletters, calls to parents or classroom teachers, feedback generated

  • Partnerships – with schools, nonprofits, social service agencies


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Program Evaluation sounds daunting, but….

You’re probably already doing a number of things that would be considered “program evaluation” by funders.

  • Staff trainings and certifications – AYD, CPR/First Aid

  • Technical Assistance – provided to you, or that you have provided to other organizations, trainings, strategy sessions

  • Current grant management – Money attracts money! Preparations for site visits that create longer-lasting changes, non-proprietary reporting

  • Community service projects


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Program Evaluation sounds daunting, but….

You’re probably already doing a number of things that would be considered “program evaluation” by funders.

  • School-generated data – report cards, attendance, detentions and suspensions, etc.

  • Test scores

  • Internal surveys, focus groups, interviews you use to help improve programming or understand needs

  • Behavioral observations

  • Anything your kids produce – showcases, art work, homework, plays, stories, journals


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Don’t be afraid of evaluation!

Collecting data will help you make your program stronger,

and it will help funders better understand your strengths!

But, don’t make promises you can’t keep!

Your program goals and mission should drive your evaluation, NOT the other way around!

Use evaluation to capture what you DO, not what you DON’T.

Use evaluation to provide feedback that YOU can use to strengthen your program.

Use evaluation to track short-term and long-term successes of your program, your youth, and our communities at large.


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Program Goals to Outcomes

  • Academic and other learning goals

    • Improved literacy and communication skills, math skills

    • Increased knowledge in science, social studies, visual and performing arts

    • Increased awareness of real-life uses of academic skills

  • Social and emotional goals

    • Improved social skills, leadership and responsibility, reduced at-risk behavior, and emotional well-being

  • Health and Safety goals

    • Improved nutrition, health practices, physical development and personal safety

  • Community engagement goal

    • Improved community awareness and engagement

Moving Towards Success: Framework for After-school Programs

C.S. Mott Foundation, May 2005


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Example Goal: Improved Literacy

  • Program elements include: qualified staff, diverse activities to foster skill development, books and materials that teach and stimulate interest, opportunities to use and practice skills, and exposure to literacy rich environments (library visits, etc)

  • Short term outcomes

    • Read and write more

    • Enjoy reading, talking about what they have read, and telling stories.

    • Increase use of computers to communicate and learn more information

    • Parents understand what children learning in school

  • Long term outcomes

    • Improved academic performance in subjects use reading comprehension and writing

    • Increased language arts skills including speaking, listening, reading comprehension and writing

    • Use of strategies such as rereading, questioning, and predicting to understand

    • Use of reading, writing, listening and speaking in all aspects of daily life

What are realistic ways to measure short term and long term outcomes?

Moving Towards Success: Framework for After-school Programs

C.S. Mott Foundation, May 2005


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Common grant-writing mistakes to avoid

  • Failing to provide a convincing rationale

  • Being overly ambitious

  • Leaving ideas undefined

  • Providing too much or not enough detail

  • Failing to demonstrate community support

  • Not following directions

  • Using jargon and acronyms


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Bibliography

Mott Foundation, Moving Toward Success: Framework for Afterschool Programs http://www.publicengagement.com/Framework/images/framework_61505.pdf

Harvard Family Research Project, Out-of-School Time Evaluation Snapshot http://www.hfrp.org/out-of-school-time/publications-resources/measurement-tools-for-evaluating-out-of-school-time-programs-an-evaluation-resource

The Finance Project, Getting the Grant: A Guide to Securing Additional Funds for After School Education and Safety Programs http://www.financeproject.org/index.cfm?page=25

The Finance Project, Sustainability Planning Workbook http://www.financeproject.org/special/engage/workbook.cfm


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National Institute on Out-of-School Time, Making the Case: 2008 Fact Sheet

http://www.niost.org/pdf/Final2008FactSheet.pdf

Afterschool Alliance, Issue Briefs

http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/researchIssueBriefs.cfm