Industry News

Federal prize competitions are a means for federal agencies to crowdsource ideas and engage public innovators to develop innovative ideas and solutions to societal problems (referred to as competitions, prize competitions, challenge, or competition). According to, the primary platform for managing competitions, “Longitude and ship navigation, Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, even initial designs for the U.S. Capitol and White House—all resulted from open prize competitions. Even those self-driving vehicles got their start in federal prize competitions too!” Other notable concepts derived from challenges include the “lunar loo” (space toilet), digital wallet interface, protections for fish from water infrastructure, opioid detection in the mail, and “getting out the count” for the most recent census. These competitions, organized by Federal agencies, encourage participation from individuals, businesses, and organizations, driving them to create groundbreaking solutions to complex problems. This blog post delves into the world of federal competitions, exploring their significance, impact, and considerations for interested organizations.

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services Attention organizations and communities interested in providing distance learning or telemedicine services to rural areas! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services’ Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program is accepting applications for equipment, software, and other technological needs to provide education and medical services to remote areas with populations of 20,000 and under. Awards range from $50,000 to $1million and there is a three-year period of performance beginning the date the funds are released. A minimum 15% match is required and cannot be from another federal source. This program was created to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so local teachers and medical services providers who serve rural residents can link to other teachers, medical professionals, and experts located at distances too far to access otherwise.

Benilde Hall was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from The Ina Calkins Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee to deliver its Substance Abuse Treatment (SAT) program. Benilde Hall’s SAT program will provide supportive housing and treatment services to 100 adult males experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder (SUD), and co-occurring disorders in Kansas City, Missouri. Funds will primarily support salaries and benefits for program staff to provide direct services (counseling, case management, SUD treatment using evidence-based best practices, and individual and group education). A small portion of the requested funds will support direct program expenses (drug testing, household supplies, utilities).

Burnout. That’s another buzzword like quiet quitting or hustle culture, right? Actually, burnout has been around for a long while, recognized in the healthcare and social service industries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon (though it’s not recognized as a medical condition). WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” In 2020, three grant professionals (Bachman, Planton, and Rodgers) set out to identify the prevalence of burnout among the grant profession. Their findings were published in the Fall 2020 Journal of the Grant Professionals Association, showing a gap in available information as well as initial research indicating more than three in four grant professionals experience physical symptoms, socio-emotional symptoms, or both, of burnout.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Attention nonprofit organizations and government entities addressing homelessness! The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now accepting proposals for its Youth and Homelessness Systems Improvement (YHSI) Grant. The goal of the YHSI Grant Program is “to increase state and local capacity to better serve youth and create projects that are responsive to the needs of youth at-risk of or experiencing homelessness in the community.” Applications for this program are due February 15, 2024.

The Golden Scoop, an organization dedicated to empowering young adults with developmental disabilities, recently received a grant of $7,500 from the J.E. Fehsenfeld Family Foundation to support their administrative staff salaries as they expand their services. Specifically, the grant will provide funding for positions such as the CEO and assistant managers, who play a vital role in guiding and supporting the organization's super scoopers in their workforce development program. This grant is crucial in solving the problem of limited employment opportunities faced by young adults with developmental disabilities, as it will enable The Golden Scoop to further prepare them for successful employment.

Funding Alert! Opportunities for STEM Education The Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program is one of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) cornerstones when it comes to producing research and resources for improving undergraduate education. This core program has been around for quite some time and it is open to application from all institutions of higher education, including 4-year institutions and 2-year community colleges. This is the kind of program where innovative teaching approaches will be quite appealing, as the program has been around for a long time.

The Golden Scoop, a nonprofit organization, received a $50,000 grant from Arcare to establish a second ice cream and coffee shop location. This expansion aims to offer delicious treats to the community and provide essential workforce development training to young adults with developmental disabilities. The goal is to empower these uniquely-abled individuals to lead independent lives and achieve financial independence by earning a livable wage.

Benilde Hall, a Kansas City, Missouri-based nonprofit, has a 30-year history of providing services for treating substance use disorder (SUD), mental health, and homelessness, so individuals may return to the community as responsible, employed, and permanently housed members of society.  Benilde Hall is one of the only low-barrier treatment facilities in the region serving adult males ages 18 and older. The agency recently received a $199,900 grant from the Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund to fund an expansion of their services for individuals experiencing homelessness, SUD, and/or co-occurring mental illness.