Navigating Recompetition : Head Start in 2019
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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. 

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