Grant proposals consist of a variety of components depending on each grant’s requirements. Most require some form of a budget, whether that is a simple project budget or a complex organizational budget, or both. Some will also include a budget narrative or justification and any number of other attachments. But in any grant proposal, the narrative is where you will likely spend most of your time. Fortunately, the proposal’s narrative is the fun part! This is where you get to put your storytelling skills to work. So how do you get started? Much like an author would begin a novel, start with an outline.

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) recently opened applications for its Street Outreach Program (SOP). As with many federal grant opportunities, there are a lot of “so” questions that come to my mind. So, what is the SOP? To prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of young people who have run away from home or are experiencing homelessness and help them leave the streets, Congress established the Education and Prevention Services to Reduce Sexual Abuse of Runaway, Homeless, and Street Youth Program. It was established through the Violence Against Women Act of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The legislation funds street-based outreach and education for youth who have run away from home or are experiencing homelessness. FYSB has funded the SOP since 1996. The purpose of the SOP is to provide street-based services to youth 21 years of age and younger who have run away from home or are experiencing homelessness and have been subjected to, or are at risk of being subjected to, sexual abuse, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and severe forms of trafficking. This includes building relationships between this target population and street outreach workers to move youth into stable housing and prepare them for independence.

I have started this blog about ten times and never finished. The topic of equity and the concept of applying equitable lenses to the grant process is of great interest to me. Just like Maryam stated in her blog (Maybe We Need Lasik®), I do want to develop a greater ability to sense and evaluate equity within myself and in my work over time and strive to improve upon it.

Unless you’re a one-person show at your agency, you’re likely dependent on someone else within the organization to provide you with whatever information you need to write a grant (e.g. data, service updates, etc.). Getting that information is oftentimes the most challenging part of our jobs as grant professionals. Once we do receive the information, it’s part of our job as grant professionals to use it strategically to build a strong, hopefully award-winning grant proposal.

Parallelism: Lining up your lists to avoid throwing your reader a curveball. We’re grant writers. We often have to fit lots of content into character, word, or page limits. We always have to worry about keeping a reader’s attention. One way we condense content is by using a series, a list of three or more items separated by commas. One way to confuse readers and lose their attention is to write series that don’t make sense. This blog post will help you avoid that so you can write as clearly and concisely as possible.

Like many of you, school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have placed me in the - let’s be honest - not entirely welcome position of balancing a full-time career with my new role of homeschool teacher. I naively and, looking back on it, pompously believed that this would be a piece of cake. I have teenagers, not small children who demand constant attention. They are good students. How hard can it be? Hard. Harder than I thought possible.

You are knee deep in a large government grant proposal and… The executive director calls you on the way to another meeting and quickly ambles off a new strategy the agency will be embarking on that must be included in the proposal. The finance person sends you an email with three new expenses to include in the budget. As you are leaving a meeting with the evaluation team, you are told about a new assessment tool the agency will be implementing…

The USDA’s Community Food Projects grant has been around since the 1990s and is renewed as part of the Farm Bill every five years. The purpose of the grant is to increase the food security of low-income communities which unfortunately continues to be a salient need across the country. Food is one of our basic needs. Many organizations work hard to feed the growing number of people who struggle to put food on the table every day. Whether in a rural or urban landscape, people often must make choices between paying rent or medical bills and buying food. Children are disproportionately affected by hunger, and the COVID-19 crisis has not only caused loss of income for many families. With school closures, kids can no longer count on free or reduced lunches every day.

Many funders see far more applications each funding cycle than their dollars can feasibly reach, forcing them to give careful consideration to how they wish to accomplish their respective missions. Even if your organization is doing amazing, life-changing things for the population it serves, if you fail to articulate those amazing things in a way that convinces the holder of funds to invest in you, you could be missing out on funding.