7 key steps to determine your agency's grant eligibility

Eligibility includes the ability to meet required capacity for administrative, financial, programmatic, personnel, tools, technology and partnership conditions and requirements

By Denise Schlegel, C1 Contributor

Eligibility for a grant is a very misunderstood concept. It reaches beyond what type of organization you are, such as a police department, a taskforce, or a nonprofit 501 (c) 3. Many applicants ignore the depth of the term eligibility and apply for a grant for which they are not prepared nor do they have the capacity to apply. 

Eligibility includes the ability to meet required capacity for administrative, financial, programmatic, personnel, tools, technology and partnership conditions and requirements. It also requires that your data and crime statistics meet the required  level of crime or other data parameters defined by the grant program.

Federal and state grants have many conditions and requirements which the applicant needs to fully understand prior to application. Meeting all of these conditions and requirements will assure that the department does not get into a contractual agreement with the state of federal funding agencies only to discover they do not have the policies, procedures, tools, technology and personnel in place to implement the grant. 

Seven Steps
Prior to application, the department leadership team, comprised of chief, finance department, and department heads, must review the grant solicitation carefully and discuss and develop a plan for grant applications. Here are the seven steps they must take: 

1. Determine what conditions and requirements are critical for the grant application financial and program requirements. Study those requirements and create a plan to meet the obligations.
2. Download and review the OJP Financial Guide. To understand your financial commitment to the grant program, assure that your have enough cash flow to front each quarter’s fiscal needs if the grant is managed via reimbursement. Ensure you have the means within your department to sustain the project, tool, technology or program within future budgets. Compliance is required!

3. Ensure that your financial department can develop and administer policies to meet the financial reporting requirements within each grant. Grantees must submit these quarterly financial reports by the 30th day following the end of each calendar quarter, and a final report is due 90 days following the end of the award period. Grantees should submit SF-425 reports online through the Grants Management System (GMS). Grant recipients who do not submit SF-425 reports by the due date will be unable to draw down funds and risk facing penalties for non-compliance. 

4. Review and determine your capacity to meet the mandatory award terms and conditions. This included Civil Rights Compliance, Audit Compliance, Text messaging polices, conference costs, reporting compliance and many other conditions. Information about this can be found here

5. For all programs grants you must ensure that your department is up to date with the current and appropriate evidence, research and evaluation guidance and requirements. These include both evidence-based policing strategies and current efforts towards improvement and quality enhancement of all programs and their practices and policies. Look for further guidance on this process here

6. Your department must meet all statutory and regulatory requirements for any and all Department of Justice funding including environment policies, technology standards, and OJP guiding principles for grantees and subgrantees.

7. Your department must able prove they will comply and are not intending to use the funding to supplement existing funds for program activities and may not replace nonfederal funds with the grant money.

This may seem to be a daunting task but all of the resources you need to determine your eligibility may be found at the www.ojp.gov/fiunding website. Once you have determined your capacity to meet these conditions and requirements, you will be able to smoothly apply and receive federal grant funding. 

About the author
Denise is the founder and President of DSSchlegel and Associates LLC which provides grant writing training and support, community and organizational assessments, facilitation services, strategic planning, and curriculum development. She has more than 30 years of executive management experience in nonprofits, local government and law enforcement organizational supports. Denise has served as the law enforcement grant writing instructor for the Northeast Counter Drug Training center for the past 11 years. She is the author of “Grant Writing - Show Me the Money©”, the only CALEA certified grant writing course in the country.

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