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Navigating Recompetition

by Andrea Abbott on 02/24/19

Since 2012, Heartland has written over 50 recompetition proposals. Our strategy has always been to keep focus on the quality of our grants instead of increasing the quantity of grants we apply for which has resulted in successful ongoing funding for our clients. One of the keys to our success is a commitment to looking at each round of recompetition with “fresh eyes”. We have learned so much from our clients, from the process, and from consistently revisiting our fund development strategies. Below are a few critical elements of the process that we believe can “make or break” your recompetition proposal and our strategy for supporting our clients through the process.

Communication – The most important part of the grant development process is communication. The client is where the information to write the proposal comes from. What works for one client may not be the best approach for everyone. For example, a larger agency may have a staff member dedicated to coordinating the process, while in a smaller agency the executive director or Head Start director must take on the role of leading the grant process in addition to maintaining their daily responsibilities.

Innovation and Something New: Recompetition grants are incredibly detailed and our process often results in the need to create multiple documents that adequately capture your program’s best features. The recompetition process is designed to improve quality or expand services, it is important to make sure your application reflects your agency’s commitment to ongoing improvement and efforts to keep up with new research about “what works” for helping disadvantaged children transcend poverty.

What Heartland is Doing – Heartland will be leveraging site visits, technology, and other communication tools to customize how we work with each client. Upon initiation of our services we will create a communication plan that details how we will communicate and work together to make your application the best it can be. Heartland also has a full library of resource materials that are ready for your use and can advise you on program changes that will help keep your program in-step with new research.  

Your Submission Date The best proposals are guided by flexible timelines that are aligned to key steps in the process. Many programs begin the grant development process by setting firm timelines, but fail to account for the “human element”. For example, an auditor shows up, staff working on the grant turnover, or the budgeting process is more difficult than expected. As a result, the process falls off track and you end up submitting the day the grant is due.

What Heartland is Doing – Heartland staff will help you set a submission date and time for your program’s application that is at least 48 hours before the grant deadline. There is nothing more important to us than making sure your grant is submitted. Our staff will keep you on track by sending reminders, templates for your grant, and we will discuss the common pitfalls of the application process early on. Each grantee receives a “DRS Survival Guide” that we review during our first call that talks about elements of success and possible challenges that may arise so we can work them into the timeline. For example, we know that typically every budget we work on needs three reviews to ensure it is accurate and sufficiently detailed and another review after the information is put into the online submission forms. Even with a template and examples of funded budgets from DRS grants, the budgeting process tends to take as much time as the actual narrative to develop. 

Get Ready to Grow! Tips for A Competitive EHS-CCP Application

by Andrea Abbott on 05/08/18


On May 4th the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership and Early Head Start Expansion (EHS-CCP) grant forecast was updated and the grant opportunity is slated to be released on June 5, 2018 with an anticipated due date of August 6, 2018. Through this funding opportunity, there will be $98 million available to fund new and existing EHS-CCP and EHS programs. The grant program will provide a unique opportunity to partner with childcare providers and to expand  EHS services to increase the number of infants and toddlers served in high quality programs. Listed below are a few strategies that programs planning to apply for these funds may want to consider to increase your chance of successful funding:  

 

1. What is your best program model? During the last round of funding, applicants had the choice of applying for funding in three different ways: 1) EHS-CCP Partnerships, 2) Non-Partnership Expansion, or 3) a mix of both EHS-CCP Partnerships and Expansion. When deciding which model is the best option for your agency it is important to identify if the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will be allocating funds for any specific program models. For example, in round 2 of the EHS-CCP competition, ACF prioritized applicants that proposed to provide at least 51% of slots using the EHS-CCP Partnership model.

 

2. Funding is allocated by state, based on the number of children in poverty. This means that you are actually competing against other programs in your state applying for funding, rather than nationally. When you are designing your program model, it is good to get an idea of other EHS-CCP programs already operating in your state. Using this information, you can identify gaps in services and position yourself for a competitive application. To identify currently operating grantees, view the results from the last two rounds of the EHS-CCP competition on the Administration for Children and Families website.

 

3. Create informed partnerships. Having partners lined up and in support of your application is a good way to increase your chances of funding. Facilitate a community meeting or “EHS – childcare partnership information session” to help providers learn about the scope of the EHS program and the funding opportunity.  Please feel free to contact Heartland for our community meeting guide. 

Two unexpected gifts from the Office of Head Start – The gift of time and flexibility, but what does this mean?

by Andrea Abbott on 02/01/18

Our thoughts on the delay of the Round 6 FOA

The most recent round of recompetition was slated to post on January 17th. However, as of this posting the application has not been released. There are several reasons that an application can be delayed and it happens in almost every round of recompetition at least once. For example, in round six, the new Head Start Program Performance Standards are likely to be incorporated into the new funding opportunity announcement and the grant evaluation criteria. As a result, the Office of Head Start has to train grant reviewers on how to evaluate applicant responses to the new criteria, as well as revise the application instructions. Another cause for a lack of application posting is lack of resources within the Office of Head Start to complete the grant review process. For example, grant reviewers are compensated for reviewing each application and the budget impasse may impact the ability for funds to be released for this task. Regardless, we have been given the gift of time. Use the extra time for the following tasks and you are sure to strengthen your proposal:

 

1. Gather anecdotal data to justify any program changes you would like to make in your application. For example, if you are proposing to convert slots to EHS survey your program families to see how many families have children eligible for EHS and note in your application the number of families that you will have enrolled immediately upon funding.

 

2. Update your school readiness plan and progress you have made in meeting family and program outcomes.  

 

3. Update your grants.gov registration and watch the Workspace Webinar to ensure that you understand the submission process and how to upload your documents into the grants.gov system.

 

4. Review your policies to address the new program performance standards on expulsion and suspension, ERSEA training, attendance, and other issues as they are certain to show up in the new grant application criteria.

 

Like many programs, Heartland monitors Round 6 grant forecast every day. However, one little known grant secret is that FOAs are typically released on a Tuesday or Thursday in the Federal Register. So, if you are checking weekly, Tuesday is your best chance of catching it right out of the gate. We will keep you posted!

 

 

What about duration? Calling attention to the elephant in the room.

Last week, OHS disseminated a notice that programs would no longer be required to comply with the duration requirement by August, 2019. The Program Instruction indicates that the reason for the change was that OHS prefers to serve more children and families for less time, than to serve fewer children for more time. While this may be true, the desire to serve more children may signal that there is a proposed cut on the horizon for Head Start. Historically, when programs anticipate a challenge to their legitimacy, the last thing that administrators want is evidence there is a reduced need for services. With most duration conversions resulting in less children served, opponents to the Head Start program can make the case that Head Start is overserving children and for a reduction in funding. It is important to track this development and the discussions that are gearing up around Head Start for the next fiscal year. 

Our List of Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Awards

by Andrea Abbott on 04/18/17

Like many others who applied for the last round of EHS-CCP grant funds, Heartland staff are becoming impatient as we wait for final announcement of the awardees. With this in mind, we created our own list. Using our monthly search of awards negotiated for Head Start and Early Head Start programs and our google daily news updates, Heartland has identified the following agencies as new EHS-CCP or EHS Expansion grantees. One note, use this with caution as it does not list those agencies that may be in the process of negotiating and it also may not be completely accurate. However, for now we will post it in hopes that a final list will be released soon. This list will be updated monthly until the final award list is posted by the ACF.

State

Agency

Amount

AR

AR St. Department of Human Services

$3,801,625

LA

Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana

$1,649,320

OK

Sunbeam Family Services

$2,753,064

CO

Mile High Child Care Association

$1,450,348

MA

Action for Boston Community Development

$2,598,030

VT

United Children’s Services of Bennington County, Inc.

$1,243,019

MI

Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative

$1,956,536

PR

Municipality of Caguas

$2,397,880

NY

Acelero, Inc.

$4,414,792

NY

Acelero, Inc.

$1,460,442

WI

Southwestern WI Community Action Program

$1,093,284

MI

Genesee Intermediate School District

$3,238,726

OH

WSOS Community Action Commission

$2,507,978

NJ

Northwest NJ Community Action Program

$1,492,666

NY

University Settlement Society of NY

$1,362,498

VA

Scott County Public Schools

$621,739

TX

Rolling Plains Mgmt. Group of Baylor Cottle Foard

$1,335,552

TX

 Motivation, Education and Training

$3,696,209

DC

Bright Beginnings, Inc.

$1,408,221

FL

Manatee Community Action Agency

$1,985,352

NY

Community Programs Center of Long Island

$1,044,743

FL

Mid-Florida Community Services, Inc.

$2,579,913

MI

Genesee County Community Action Agency

$2,321,318

IN

Pace Community Action Agency, Inc.

$663,742

MI

FIVECAP, Inc.

$1,272,348

OR

Mt. Hood Community College

$500,478

WA

Washington State Community College District # 17

$1,958,000

GA

Macon Bibb County EOC

$2,148,246

MO

Mid America Regional Council

$1,605,039

PA

Private Industry Council of Westmoreland Fayette

$1,402,774

PA

Council of Three Rivers AI Center -EHS Southwest PA EHS/CCP

$4,093,301

IL

YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago

$4,026,606

CA

Los Angeles Universal Preschool

$3,049,686

CA

Contra Costa County Auditor

$4,546,841

VA

Urban Strategies

$1,471,193

Is There a Grant Season?

by Andrea Abbott on 01/04/17

Is there are Grant Season?

Heartland is constantly asked this question by organizations we are working with to develop funding and strategic plans. Our answer is somewhat complex as the idea of a “grant season” depends on your funding sources and their requirements. Grant season is also different if you are seeking new funding and launching new projects. Regardless, it can be helpful to view your grant development and management efforts in the context of these three ideas:

1.       Federal Grant Writing Season: The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th, the last half of the federal fiscal year is when the greatest number of grants are awarded (April to September). This time frame reflects all 26 federal grantmaking agencies. This timeframe also means that the actual time you will likely be writing federal grant applications is from October through March. I am groaning right now, because every year this means that grant application due dates are around the holidays…

2.      State Grant Writing Season: The fiscal year for all but four states ends on June 30th (Alabama and Michigan have a fiscal year aligned with the federal fiscal year, New York has a fiscal year end of March 31st, and Texas ends on August 31st). When it comes to state funding, you will likely experience the heaviest grant writing period from July to December.

 

So, the answer is: yes, there is a grant writing season. Taking into consideration when federal, state, and foundation grantmaking agencies tend to release their funding announcements and have their due dates can help you anticipate your workflow. It can also help you determine when you will need the most grant writing assistance (either budgetary funds to hire a grantwriter or internal manpower to write grants). If your agency happens to apply for all three types of funding (federal/state/foundation), it would be safe to say that the spring months will have less grant activity, and a good time for a vacation!

 

State Head Start Cost Per Child 
Click here to download our analysis.