In our April blog series, we are focusing on “Helping Hands.” Last week, my colleague, Jennifer, perfectly explained how to track volunteer time and efforts and how to include these figures in grant budgets (click to read Jennifer's blog). Volunteers can add significant value to your project budgets and your agency’s bottom line, but did you know they can also leverage additional grant dollars for your organization? Let’s explore some of the strategies you can use to successfully in pursue volunteer grants.

United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service Does your organization provide education or health care services in rural areas? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting proposals for its 2021 Distance Learning & Telemedicine (DLT) grants program. The goal of the DLT program is to enable and improve rural access to education, training, and health care through modern telecommunications technology. This 27-year-old program has helped to establish hundreds of distance learning and telemedicine systems in rural areas throughout the United States. Proposals for this year’s solicitation are due June 4, 2021.

If your organization or program works with volunteers, you know firsthand that these individuals are often invaluable assets in delivering your mission. While volunteer management professionals know how to communicate the intrinsic value of these services to the community and the volunteers who provide them, we have to ask ourselves…. are we as grant professionals properly communicating their monetary value to current and potential grant funders? As we continue to celebrate National Volunteer Month, let’s explore ways to express the value of volunteer contributions. This will help you to present accurate and comprehensive grant budgets that fully express the extent of your organization’s in-kind commitment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Does your government agency work with Community Health Workers (CHWs)? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now accepting applications for its 2021 program, Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities (CCR), which supports the goals of the CARES Act in preventing COVID-19 and protecting individuals from the public health implications of the pandemic. This program supports the training, deployment, and engagement of CHWs across the country to support COVID-19 response efforts. Applicants may propose a variety of strategies for scaling up the capacity of CHWs, with a focus on communities and populations that have been most affected by COVID-19. CCR proposals are due May 24, 2021.

Hello April! I am greeting this month with big, open arms – ready for sunshine, warmer temperatures, open windows, and a good, deep spring cleaning (who doesn’t love washing windows and scrubbing baseboards?). If those are not enough reasons to love April, here’s one more: it’s National Volunteer Month – a time to celebrate and promote volunteerism and helping hands. As a grant professional in the field for over 16 years, I have come to understand and deeply appreciate the value of a helping hand. One of the most valuable helping hands I have seen is proposal reviews, particularly for federal proposals (perfect timing as spring is often a federal grant season!). I have been fortunate enough to experience both internal and external reviews from those who are unfamiliar with my proposal’s program or the agency. BONUS: I have also served as an external reviewer for federal grant programs. The benefits of these extra eyes and hands are invaluable especially in an ever growing, highly competitive environment.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Attention two-year institutions of higher education! NSF is now accepting proposals for its program, Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education at Two-Year Institutions of Higher Education. This program aims to advance undergraduate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education through a variety of potential research-informed approaches, with the ultimate goal of building a more diverse STEM workforce. Proposed projects should build upon previous research in STEM education and result in field-tested outcomes and products. NSF accepts proposals for this program at any time; however, to be considered for funding in 2021, applicants must submit their proposals prior to May 28, 2021.

Integrated Behavioral Services, Inc. (IBT) was recently awarded a $40,047 grant from Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund – All In for Kansas Kids to increase the number of childcare professionals trained effective social-emotional interventions (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS)) for children with autism or other intellectual, developmental, physical, behavioral, and/or emotional needs. This project is the second part of a three-year plan to develop a replicable PBIS model that incorporates advanced social-emotional skills programming, puts into place appropriate structure, stability, and healthy behaviors to reduce problem behaviors among children at The K.I.D.S. Place.

We’ve all had experiences with nonprofit leadership who would do almost anything for funding. But have you considered the ethical implications that can go along with the ‘money at all costs’ mindset? I’m talking about things like: How far is your agency willing to go? Would they misrepresent revenue to funders? Would they inflate the numbers served so it appeared they were helping more people than they really were? Welp. Luckin Coffee (LC) boldly went there and got caught. But there is much to learn from the error of their ways, so let’s take a look at LC’s actions through the eyes of a grants professional to examine the ethics (or lack thereof) of it all.