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Thread: First grant writing experiences?

  1. #1

    First grant writing experiences?

    I am taking a stab at applying for my first grant for my planning agency and it got me thinking- what did others learn from their first experiences writing grant proposals? What was the grant for, did you get the funding, what was the hardest part about it? For me I'm struggling with the budget narrative. This is for establishing a new environmental program and I'm afraid I'm forgetting some indirect costs.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    My first grant proposal was for funding the non-profit community development organization where I worked. No grant, no job. Fortunately I did get it. I would worry more about writing pursuasively than about accidently leaving something out of the budget. Budgets seldom come in on target anyway, and the agency giving the grant usually allows you to move money around.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Dec 2006
    I prepapred an OSLAD grant (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) to match up to $300,000.00 of the construction costs for a new park. The state awarded the money to the park district. It really wasn't that difficult: just a lot of forms and constant verification. I am currently working on a different one now (same program, but for reimbursement of construction funds to a different park). Again, a lot more paperwork and verification.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
    Nov 2005
    In the Peach State
    Quote Originally posted by julkins08 View post
    what did others learn from their first experiences writing grant proposals?
    A well written, well thought out proposal will win over some bs with a bunch of catch phrases and buzz words every time.
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
    Nov 2006
    Rockwood, MI

    Fat Cat

    I was the new kid on the block working for a medium sized city that valued war protesters more than vets. There was a bridge that falling down and the city engineering department had applied for numerous grants and were turned down. The engineers had used the deterioation of the structure as the basis for their grant applications. The applications were quite thick but all had been turned down.
    I was handed the task with directions to get a grant to replace this bridge. No one expected me to succeed. I knew that I had to look at the problem in a different way and use a different approach in my grant proposal. I went into the field and looked at the bridge (old high super structure) and saw a cone of visibility problem with the off ramp leading to the bridge. I then requested a traffic accident history from the police department. I did an accident diagram based on the accident reports. There was a pattern of rear end accidents on the off ramp. There was grant program at that time called TOPICS (Traffic Operational Program to Increase Capacity and Safety). It was administered by the state police. I applied and for received over one million dollars to replace the bridge. This was in the early 70s. I still use it on my resume to this day. The lesson that I learned is to look at a problem and view it as an opportunity, be creative and be positive, have a can do attitude.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    First grant was when I worked at a Regional Planning Agency. I was told to seek funding from a state planning grant program to help out one of the commercial centers in the region. I was supposed to work with the planner for that community but that person was not helpful- I ended up doing all the work myself. We didn't get the grant, in large part because the state grants are based as much on political pressure as merit.

    I realized after I had submitted the application that we were applying as much to address an internal political issue as a substantive one. That community had been fighting with the RPA over some issues and this was a way to help appease them. I did learn a lot out the nuts and bolts of grant writing doing this one - although I learned a lot more when I worked in a community that had a grants administrator who helped me think like the funders.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Aug 2005
    in a meeting
    I highly recommend applying for a grant, as you first grant, for a program that the municipality almost always gets, hands-down so the first is a success - then meet with the grant administrator and get some free hints on what was good or not so good

    in any case, always get on a first name basis with the grant administrator

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
    Feb 2007
    The Castle Aaaargh
    My first PT position out of school, the City was successful with CDBG Small Cities in NY, when they were still HUD initiated. I was to help with he Environmental Review Record for the new grant. He told me to contact SHPO. I went back to him and asked how to contact Mr. Shipo. He LHAO. (He was too nice to use profanity).

    Thing is, I'm finding grants are easier than straight writing. At least you have a sort of structure or idea of things that need to be in there.

    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    Ugh. Well, after 17 years in zoning/land use, writing grants was a breeze, even with no training whatsoever. Except our county had a consultant who was a total idiot and screwed up anything I wrote. Once they ditched him, grants were no problem. It helps that planning grants in FL are pretty much "fill in the blanks". Much easier than doing a land use amendment.

    Gut feeling: if you have to deal with a consultant and he/she seems stupid, you've lost the grant.

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