Building Your Data Library – Bookmark These Resources by Michele Ryan, GPC

As grant professionals, we all know that using strong, relevant data from reliable sources to support our case for funding is essential to a quality, competitive application. Although this is true across all types of applications, it is especially relevant when applying for federal grants. While stories bring our programs to life for a reviewer, used artfully data provides the foundation that makes it possible to build a captivating (and winning) case for support. I’m going to provide you with some resources you can use to make finding – and citing – that crucial piece of data easier next time you need it.

We use data to both provide evidence supporting why our program is needed and to describe how our activities are based on methods that have been proven successful. Let’s look at the first part of that statement. We all use data first and foremost to define the problem we are seeking to address and the population our program will serve. This is key, and it is important to keep in mind that while national data is powerful, it is important to make the case for services in your local area by using local data. A few other key points to remember when using data:

– Cite your sources!

– Use current data – if it is more than a few years old, be sure to explain its relevance

– Reputation – make sure your sources are reputable (no, Wikipedia does not count)

So, where do you find all of this captivating data that will elevate your application into the winner’s circle? The sources are endless – there are millions of published peer reviews, scholarly articles, and agency resources available – don’t dismiss Google scholar! And don’t overlook local universities and foundations. Many foundations publish their own needs assessments which can be invaluable for local and regional issues. Additionally, state education agencies (SEAs) are invaluable resources for student data in each district within the state including student achievement, free/reduced lunch statistics, and basic demographics. If the universe of research feels overwhelming, following are a few key links to get you started:

Federal grants have long required information about how program activities are based on evidence-based models. Evidence-based means there is efficacy to back it up; efficacy is defined as the ability to consistently produce a desired result by recreating the same actions. So, how do you determine if your program is evidence-based and use supporting references to back up your claim? The following is a list of resources you can refer to depending on your specific area of programming:

By using data to support your case and convey your program’s use of evidence-based practices, you are laying a strong foundation on which to build a compelling case for why your organization should be funded. Next time you need to find that perfect data point, refer back to these resources and keep your eyes open for new and sometimes unexpected treasure troves of information.

AGS blogs are aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills.

GPC Competency #9: Ability to write a convincing case for funding