As the year comes to a close, we know that some of you are anticipating a Designation Renewal System (DRS) grant competition in 2019. This week, four Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for Head Start/Early Head Start grant competitions posted to It appears as though some of these FOAs are part of DRS. There is also at least one competition that is for a grant that was voluntarily relinquished by the previous grantee. However, we don’t believe FOAs that posted this week are DRS Round 8. It’s not uncommon for a handful of grant competitions to post at times different than the majority of DRS postings.

When will DRS Round 8 competitions open? There aren’t any forecasts live on for upcoming grant competitions, so it’s hard to say exactly when the Round 8 FOAs will post. Lately, there hasn’t been a lot of notice before FOAs are released. (This fall, the Early Head Start Expansion and Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership Round 3 FOA was posted without almost any notice!). Our best estimate is that DRS Round 8 might come late winter/early spring. We continue to watch for updates, and if we see any Head Start/Early Head Start forecasts we’ll post an update here.

If you plan to apply for funding as part of DRS Round 8, there are ways you can prepare. Foundations for Families team members have successfully written DRS grant proposals in all rounds of DRS, and we’ve helped clients through a variety of program design planning and budget challenges. Over coming weeks we’ll share some of our top insights. Today, we begin with the importance of community assessment.

We recommend that, as soon as possible, you determine if your community assessment is up to date and if it provides relevant and current data that can be used for your DRS proposal. You will need this data for program design planning and to justify the need for services. Simply having a community assessment isn’t good enough. Check out a Round 7 DRS FOA and look at the Demonstration of Need section. Can you, based on the information in your current community assessment, provide responses to the grant criteria? If you can’t, work with your team to determine if you need an update to your community assessment or if it would be most beneficial to conduct a new community assessment. We can’t stress enough the difference between having a decent community assessment and having an excellent community assessment and the impact on the quality and competitiveness of a grant proposal. If DRS Round 8 FOAs are released this spring, you will want to start your community assessment process after the New Year.

If you need help determining if your community assessment is ready for DRS then we can help. We would be glad to talk with you about your program’s needs and discuss how you can maximize the competitiveness of your program’s grant proposal. Foundations for Families offers a variety of grant writing and community assessment services and we would be glad to talk with you about options that could be a good fit for your program.

Thank you.

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