Dr. Stephenie Slahor
Federal, state, local, private, and foundation grants can mean fostering a new project, providing more training, acquiring better equipment, or developing improved processes.
Whether city, county or state law enforcement, the fact remains that grants can provide a useful source of funds when the budgets are tight, but projects are worthy. Public and private grant funding can help finance all, or part, of a program, training or equipment, but competition is high for those funds.
To obtain a grant, you must put forth your best effort, both in applying for the grant and in managing the project for which the grant was obtained. Such best efforts may also help with winning another grant in the future.
Fortunately, good resources are available to assist you in obtaining and administering a grant. Concise courses are offered by Grant Writing USA (www.GrantWritingUSA.com) to apply for grants and to manage grants. The cost is reasonable, especially if an agency hosts one such seminar.
The Performance Institute (www.performanceinstitute.org) offers courses in useable practices for government agencies, including grant writing and management. The Web site, www.PoliceGrantsHelp.com, is a comprehensive resource for grant information and assistance. Its extensive database library covers federal, state, local, corporate, and private grant opportunities.
The edge offered by such resources can be beneficial even before you begin the process of exploring the Internet, the prime source for grant information, applications and variety. Through such courses and studies, you can hone your abilities and efforts so that they are exact and exemplary when compared to your competitors who are also seeking that grant money. After building a solid foundation, you can then move toward exploring potential grant sources.
While you might shoulder all, or most, of the work, you may want to enlist the assistance of some other team members who can help you define your agency’s goals, work, problems, and evaluations. Grantors must know what needs to be accomplished; why a grant must finance all, or part, of the project; and how the grant will resolve the problem the project will address.
Most grant applications now use an online process which utilizes a particular format, but you will probably have to include a Statement of Introduction, Problem Statement/Needs Assessment, Budget, Methods, Summary, and Evaluation.
The “Statement of Introduction” overview clearly states the problem; the project; the methods/equipment/personnel needed to solve the problem; why your agency is a credible choice for the project and the grant; and how long your agency needs to complete the scope of the work to be done. Use standard English, not jargon, and follow the grantor’s requirements about word count, format, statistical data, endorsements, or regional applications/other agency involvement.
The “Problem Statement/Needs Assessment” tells about the problem, not the lack of money to solve the problem. Define the problem clearly and logically and the role your agency plays in solving it. The grantor wants to see that the grant will help certain individuals or the community, rather than merely meet the monetary needs of the agency.
Estimate the type and extensiveness of change or improvement which will come from the project. Or, if it is a new or pilot project, research similar projects to garner facts and statistics about how they achieved solutions.
As you explore Web sites such as those listed in this article, learn what agencies qualify, categories of grants, eligibility requirements, and other details. If you prefer to use an Internet search engine, enter such terms as law enforcement or police grants for equipment, computers, vehicles, block grants, K9/mounted unit, etc. List each “find” in a notebook or computer file, noting their favored projects, their grant cycles and deadlines, and specific requirements. You might also find some research help through your state’s Attorney General’s office, Department of Transportation, Alcohol Beverage Commission, Health Department, or delinquency prevention services. There may also be county, regional or local resources relating to health, illegal drugs/opioids, engineering, civil defense, or education/schools which might partner with your agency to broaden the scope of a project or respond to a problem.
Your team members can assist with collecting information or fine-tuning the grant application. Some of them might be good with budget and others might be people who can collaborate, although you might not need the same people all the way through the grant application process. Use the expertise of individuals who can assist with specific parts or phases.
When preparing the “Budget” portion, collaborate with stakeholders, IT experts and others who can assist with the concise work of the financial side of the project and how the grant money will be spent. For example, an equipment or vehicle purchase is more than the sale price; it includes additional or future costs, delivery, installation/start-up, training, storage, and maintenance. And, whatever the project or expenditure, the grantor wants to know how the project will be sustained once the grant money is depleted. Diverse members in your budget team can help you establish and plan for these ramifications and express the financial details. Being thorough helps you avoid budget amendments further down the road. Line by line details will likely be needed, along with information about the grant money, matching funds, spreadsheets (if allowed in the application), or other points related to the grant and the continuing of the project after the grant money is administered.
The “Methods” portion of the application will depend on the project, personnel, activities, and funding. Again, a team can help explain targets and their details, define timelines and state how the project will be measured as it proceeds along its path. Enlist help outside the agency if the project benefits other segments (schools, mental health services, the community at large, other police agencies nearby, etc.). Show the processes which will be used to achieve the objectives and measureable outcomes. Explain who will do what and when, and why you chose your methodology. This shows your grantor that you have studied the project thoroughly, and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of other methods.
The “Summary” is at the end of the application, but it might be the first portion which the reviewer reads. Describe your project, but write it like a “first impression.” The grantor may set a preferred word length, but most summaries are one to three pages or 250 to 750 words – something which can be read in about a minute. Be concise, but include your agency’s role in the project; what the project will do; the cost; how much you want from the grantor; how much you will invest in the project; and the anticipated end result of the project.
The “Evaluation” portion looks at measuring the outcomes of the project as seen from the goals, methods and outside feedback from participants, beneficiaries, instructors, or others involved in the project. Explain who will evaluate, how it will be done and at what time. Address the grantor’s requirements about the steps needed for a thorough evaluation. If it is a major project, you will likely have to show how future funding will be sustained.
When you believe that your application is finished, submit it first to non law enforcement personnel, if appropriate, to check for clarity and understanding. If there is something the reader questions or cannot understand, rewrite that portion because it’s likely your grant reviewer won’t understand it either.
Start your federal grant research with www.Grants.gov. There, you can search and apply for grants, use a mobile app and read E-mail alerts and newsletters for new grant opportunities. Set your preferences and study and note the eligibility requirements in your file or notebook.
Other good federal grant research Web sites are www.USASpending.gov and https://beta.SAM.gov/Home, the official US General Services Administration Web site for those who make, receive and manage federal grant awards (it replaces the old www.cfda.gov and other legacy Web sites).
https://dhs.gov – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has grant money for projects involving preparedness, response, equipment, planning, training, and exercises related to terrorist attacks and other disasters.
www.fema.gov – Most of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s focus relates to disaster-specific events, but grant money is also allocated to environmental and historical preservation, hazard attenuation and repetitive flood claims programs.
www.tsa.gov/node/2429 – The Transportation Security Administration’s grants focus on enhancing the safety and security of mass transit, passenger rail, trucking, freight rail, intercity buses, transit systems, certain ferry systems, and hardening of tunnels/high density stations/bridges. Final funding awarded is based on a multiagency recommendation, including FEMA.
www.transportation.gov – Enter “Grants” in the search function to read current projects being funded. Most relate to the safe transporting of hazardous materials involving state, territorial, tribal, or local hazmat emergency planning and training.
www.usda.gov/topics/rural – The US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program funds projects in rural areas in facilities, equipment, housing, utilities, and business, and uses grants, loans, cooperative grants, community facilities loans and grants, telecommunications loans and grants, and community development programs for rural settings and development.
www.justice.gov/grants – The Office of Justice Programs in the US Department of Justice funds projects in training, crime prevention and emergency management which support police and public safety activities in state, local and tribal jurisdictions, including victim assistance, training, technical assistance, research, and improvements to justice systems.
www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ – The White House Web site for the Office of National Drug Control Policy describes funding opportunities for law enforcement training, technical assistance, equipment procurement, programs targeted to reduction of drug abuse, and addiction related to the current opioid crisis.
www.gpo.gov – The US Government Printing Office disseminates information from the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government, and offers a guide to those branches. The Web site has government information, a catalog of US government publications and guides to official federal resources (especially useful for background information about goals and purposes of federal agencies, or when you must check such references as the Congressional Record, Congressional bills, the Code of Federal Regulations, or other government publications).
www.usa.gov/benefits-grants-loans – This easy to navigate, alphabetical list of government benefits, grants and financial aid is a good tool for basic grant research.
www.hud.gov – Open the “Topic Areas” tab and scroll to “Grants” for current US Department of Housing and Urban Development grants and links to other government Web sites for grant applications.
www.hrsa.gov – Enter “Grants” in the search function for The Health Resources and Services Administration/US Department of Health and Human Services Web site page for grants, management of grants and grant terminology links.
www.justnet.org – The Justice Technology Information Network of the National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice Web site is useful for technology information, and search and topic lists for grants for equipment, testing, evaluation, and technology improvements. It also assists with finding NIJ compliant products.
www.loc.gov – The Library of Congress is a concise reference tool for general resource information and links to federal grant research.
www.npstc.org – The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) is a federation of organizations for public safety and communications interoperability in broadband, software defined radio, re-banding, and technical education. Its Web site addresses grants overviews, availability of grants and other news about grants and cooperative agreements.
www.kresge.org – The Kresge Foundation offers grants for community projects and social investing, especially as they relate to expanding opportunity and betterment in American cities. If your project collaborates with other organizations involved with human services, this may be a possible grant source.
www.federalgrantswire.com – This government grant and loan resource guide provides information by name, subject, applicant type, or agency type. It also offers tips for successful grant writing.
www.techsoup.org – Primarily for nonprofit organizations, this Web site is helpful if your project involves a partnership between your agency and a nonprofit. The Web site also has helps for locating donated and discounted technology products.
www.psfa.us – The Public Safety Foundation of America provides grants for such public safety functions as planning, equipment procurement and training. Click on the “Grantseekers” tab.
www.foundationcenter.org – This focuses on private grantors and also provides information about in-person grant writing courses and seminars.
www.jispnet.org – The Justice Information Sharing Practitioners’ Network enhances education of those serving in criminal justice and public safety. It lists seminars and webinars, some of which relate to grant writing.
www.nw3c.org – The National White Collar Crime Center is a support system for police agencies and focuses on prevention, investigation and prosecution of high-tech crime.
www.macfound.org – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s grants focus on societal challenges in a topic or a geographic area covered in its current agenda.
www.wkkf.org – The Kellogg Foundation has grants for projects which especially focus on bettering conditions for a community’s children. If you’re partnering with a community organization with that goal, you may find funding with this foundation.
www.mountedpolice.org – This organization supports the health and welfare of police horses, and horse and rider training. Such activities include de-spooking, equitation, safety, professionalism, and mounted self-defense. While not a source of grant money, it may provide information or resources about funds available for police horse units.
www.k9s4cops.org/apply – This foundation was formed specifically to fund the purchase of K-9 officers and believes that lack of funds should not be an obstacle for police agencies seeking K-9 corps officers. Its Web site has the requirements and the grant application.
http://projectpawsalive.org – This nonprofit organization opens periodic application deadlines for equipment for K-9 units. Join its mailing list for details.
www.universalk9inc.com/police-dog-grant/ – This organization trains saved dogs for law enforcement (and veterans) and provides animals, training and recertification.
Local Service Clubs/Community Organizations – While a government grant may be your first thought, consider your community’s service clubs, Chamber of Commerce or small business groups who may be able to provide certain amounts of money sufficient for specific needs such as protective vests for K-9s, mounted patrol equipment, or police/community programs for youth. Such organizations usually do not have much competition for a grant and they also provide an opportunity for enhanced liaisons between your community and your agency.
http://resource.referenceusa.com, www.census.gov, www.surveymonkey.com, www.knowthis.com – ZIP Code™ demographics Web sites and local radio and television stations and newspapers can help you with learning the demographics of the region to be served by your project.
www.dnb.com – This is the source for a Dun & Bradstreet® D-U-N-S® number for your agency to identify it, establish a credit file and predict reliability and financial competence.
www.GuideStar.org – This is a comprehensive information source about nonprofit organizations; where you can see what grantors are funding and what grant money trends are occurring.
www.tgci.com – The Grantsmanship Center has resources for planning projects, researching grants, proposal writing, and grant management.
www.PoliceGrantsHelp.com – This is a database of federal, state, local, and corporate grants particularly for police departments.
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D., is a writer in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org