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EVALUATING & SELECTING A GRANT

The single most important success factor in securing discretionary grant funding is completing the necessary research and preparation. Grant-making organizations have different histories, requirements, and responsibilities. Therefore, it is critical to fully understand the goals of the grant awarding organization as well as the priorities of the grant program itself. This can be accomplished through careful analysis of the grant program in the CFDA, Grants.gov, the funding agency's website, the funding agency's Request for Initial Proposals (RFIP) or Request for Applications (RFA), and/or the grant guidance documentation. The original concept may need to be modified to meet the criteria of the grant program and the priorities of the grant awarding organization.  In allocating funds, organizations base their decisions on how well the applicants proposed activities support the stated public purpose of the allocation.

Once the grant program is determined to be applicable and worth further consideration, a thorough and detailed analysis of grant guidance and/or application documentation should be conducted. Some things to consider when reviewing are:

  • Begin by reading through the guidance in its entirety.
  • Review the guidance again; paying close attention to the required submission elements (e.g., forms, and application sections).
  • Develop an outline that includes all of the required submission elements.
  • Review the style guidelines (e.g., font type, font size) and page limitations. (Note: Not all applications contain this level of specificity with regard to style.)
  • Review the evaluation criteria to ensure an understanding of the prioritized weight of each item/section.
  • Review the applicant eligibility section to make sure your organization is eligible to apply.
  • Begin to think of creative and innovative ways to justify planned projects or investments.

FEMA & FAVD Opportunities

The purpose of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Grants Programs Directorate (GPD), is to allocate funds for planning, operations, training, equipment, and exercises. Funding is provided to federal state, local, tribal and private sector arenas to increase security, prevention, response and recovery in regards to incidents involving terrorism, natural disasters, and other unforeseen emergencies. In order to maximize a state's FEMA grant monetary allocation, a state must follow the guidelines concerning three crucial steps, which influence the competitive funding process:

  • Strategic Planning - Assesses the degree of risk a state's critical infrastructure, economy, and population face through threat, vulnerability, and possible consequences.
  • Enhancement Planning (Gap Analysis) - Includes initiatives, programs, and projects based on the risks identified in the state strategic plan.
  • Investment Justification - Provides the vision and design to justify funds for the programs and initiatives stated in the enhancement plan.

The state applying for grant monies must be able to execute the plan effectively and state how achievement through enhanced planning and investment justification supports the expansion of preparedness. Check the milestones in your state's plan for grant allocation indicators.

Flash Content "Recent disasters and changes in federal law have demonstrated a need to include the Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Defense community in preparedness planning.  This community needs to be proactive with ideas and the willingness to become engaged in exercises, drills, and planning meetings at the state level."

Making a "Go"/"No Go" Decision

Submitting a grant application takes time and resources from an organization. Therefore, it is critical to make sure this endeavor is a good use of time and resources by considering some important factors and making a "go" or "no-go" decision before beginning the submission. Consider both the opportunity and level of risk by assessing these factors:

Opportunity

  • Are there resources available to write the application?
  • What is the likelihood you will win?
  • Are resources available to execute the projects and manage the grant administratively?
  • Are the planned projects one time investments or will there be maintenance/sustainment involved?

Risk

  • If sustainment is needed, can your organization provide the sustainment resources or will future grants provide the funding for those resources?
  • Are there any external obstacles or constraints?
  • Can the project(s) be completed within the grant period of performance?
  • How many groups of external and internal resources will there be? Typically the more there are, the greater the risk.
  • Is this really a feasible project (e.g., completely eliminating all terrorist threats would not be a feasible undertaking)?

Once the opportunities and risks have been assessed, consider ranking the grant opportunity based upon the diagram below with "A" being the best use of resources and "D" being an opportunity your organization may not consider worthwhile.

This risk diagram shows opportunity vs. risk. The first quad is A, or High Opportunity and Low Risk. The second quad is B, or High Opportunity and High Risk. The third quad is C, or Low Opportunity and Low Risk. The fourth quad is D, or Low Opportunity and High Risk. Footer Flourish

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