If trends of past DRS competitions hold true, the next round of DRS will likely open for competition this fall. There are not any DRS grants forecasted yet, but you can keep your eye on Grants.gov for updates, and we’ll post any news here.

Is your Head Start/Early Head Start program competing in DRS for the first time? You might have some questions about what to expect or how to get ready. You might be more familiar with compiling a baseline or continuation application. While there are similarities, there are also differences to keep in mind.

  1. Competitiveness. The most important difference between baseline or continuation applications and DRS is competitiveness. DRS is competitive, meaning any eligible agency (not just the current grantee) may apply for and be awarded the funding, while baseline and continuation applications are non-competitive.
  2. Length and depth of proposal. Applications for funding through DRS are much longer and more complex than a baseline or continuation application. While similar information is requested, the justification for funding and descriptiveness is deeper in a DRS proposal.
  3. Required appendix items. Unlike baseline and continuation applications, for which few additional items are required, DRS applications will include many attachments. The Appendix will be around 75 pages and will include items such as letters of support, agreements and MOUs, approval letters, policies, and resumes.
  4. Mechanism for submission. Baseline and continuation applications are submitted in HSES, while applications for funding through DRS are submitted in grants.gov. Submitting applications through grants.gov also requires an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM).

Regardless of whether your program has competed in DRS in the past or will be competing for the first time, there is one factor that will be new for everyone: capturing the extended impact of COVID-19. Given that the Office of Head Start (OHS) recently highlighted the importance of community assessment in planning program services, we expect that programs may be required to write to this in their application.

DRS proposals typically include a Demonstration of Need section in which applicants write about the needs of children and families in the proposed service area. COVID has had drastic impacts on families related to health, employment, education, and social services. Writing about that data in your proposal will show your program understands and will be responsive to community needs. COVID impact data will be essential for fall 2021 grant writing and should be tied to your program design (e.g., program options, allocation of slots) and planned services.

Learn more about what to expect in DRS. Whether your program is new to DRS or competing for a second time, help is available. Foundations for Families offers a variety of Grant Writing Solutions and provides services for Getting Ready for a Competitive Grant. Please contact us to learn more.

Thank you.

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