The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the tenth round of Designation Renewal System (DRS) grant competitions were announced on on Friday, November 19. Applications are due no later than February 2, 2022. NOFOs are available on by searching for Head Start grant opportunities. If you’re used to seeing “Funding Opportunity Announcement” or “FOA” in grant documents, note that the Office of Head Start has begun using NOFO instead.

Like the last round of DRS, NOFOs were released by state (“communities in the state of…”). In the Appendix of each NOFO, the service areas and funding amounts are defined. A Competition Identification Number is assigned to each service area and will need to be included in the applicant’s SF-424 at the time of submission.

There are few substantive changes from DRS round 9 to DRS round 10. Among the most notable are the following.

  1. The Staffing and Supporting a Strong Early Learning Workforce section includes specific language about “salary and benefits.” Applicants are asked to describe their “plan to attract and retain qualified staff, including through salaries and benefits, with the ability to implement a high-quality program.”
  2. The Planning and Implementation section states that an applicant’s facilities plan “should include any properties with a federal interest currently occupied by the incumbent recipient, where applicable.”
  3. In the sections on Facilities and Mortgage and Long Term Lease, there is new language that refers applicants to Real Property Guidance. Real Property Guidance includes information on activities such as approvals, reporting, and disposition.
  4. The section on Subawards notes that applicants should not propose a strict pass-through to other organizations. The exception is if the arrangement is authorized by statute.
  5. With regard to the selection of grantees, the NOFO indicates that priority may be given to certain applicants. As stated in the NOFO, “ACF reserves the right to consider preferences to fund organizations serving emerging, unserved, or under-served populations, including those populations located in pockets of poverty.”

Additionally, while not new, there are a few highlights from the NOFO that we recommend you keep in mind.

  1. The NOFO states that applicants should submit applications that are based on the projected number of children that can be served in a post-COVID environment without physical distancing restrictions currently in place.
  2. It is expected that Head Start/Early Head Start services begin quickly after award, with minimal start up period, to “support limited to no disruption in services to the currently enrolled children and families” in the service area. (Note that this language is only included in NOFOs for Head Start/Early Head Start funding and not in NOFOs for EHS Expansion and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership.)

The lists above are not all-inclusive of the changes reflected in the NOFO between DRS round 9 and DRS round 10. There are minor changes throughout the NOFO. In your detailed review of the NOFO, you might also notice some differences in language from past rounds of DRS.

Please be in touch if your program is competing for funding in DRS and needs help. We offer a variety of services to support programs in DRS. Consider a quality assurance review, submission support, or our DRS toolkit to guide you through the process. Contact us to learn more.

Thank you.

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