Preparing for DRS

What are your next steps for DRS?

Competing for funding as part of the Designation Renewal System can be incredibly stressful. After working with with programs in every round of DRS, Foundations for Families has developed tools to make the work less daunting.

With a new round of funding forecasted, is your organization planning to compete for funding in one of the 11 states with available funding?

This fall, we are offering services to support DRS applications:

Data Collection: community demographics and information on eligible children to meet FOA criteria.

Program Design and Budget Planning: “right-size” your response to area needs.

Comprehensive Grant Writing: we will develop and submit a grant in collaboration with your team.

Grant Coaching: our toolkit plus weekly calls to support your organization’s grant writing.

Grant Writing Toolkit: timeline, templates, and checklists for a DIY approach.

Contact us to find out which solution is right for you.



The estimated posting date for Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) is September 8, 2021.

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Develop your application strategy for DRS

Here are a few of the factors that can make a big difference in the process and quality of your DRS proposal submission.

  • Have a clear leader. Identify your DRS leader now – someone who will manage the DRS proposal from brainstorming to submission. This person is detail oriented and will serve as project manager and lead writer. The DRS leader has their eyes on all pieces of the proposal to ensure your program doesn’t drop the ball.
  • Adhere to a detailed proposal development timeline. A clear timeline significantly reduces the stress level for everyone during proposal development. The more details, the better. Our approach uses a day-to-day timeline, leveraging every day of the approximately 60-day turnaround. Include benchmarks for proposal development, such as gathering data, drafting narrative, securing Board and Governing Body approvals, and appendix development. As part of your timeline, establish a regular DRS meeting schedule.
  • Involve key content managers.The DRS leader needs to know who to involve and when. When key content managers are engaged throughout the process, the DRS proposal narrative has rich, detailed content. In every round of DRS, it has paid off clearly state in your narrative how the pieces of your program design fit together .
  • Have current, high-quality data to inform your proposal. In the past, the DRS FOA has required programs to provide a substantial amount of data, particularly in the Demonstration of Need section of the proposal. In this section, you’ll need to write about the children and families in your proposed service area, including demographics, priority populations, community health factors, and other data. Most of that data can be found in your most recent Community Assessment.
  • Know your program policies and procedures. Throughout the FOA, you’ll be asked to write about areas of your program that should be established in your program policies and procedures. Programs with comprehensive policies and procedures in place generally have an easier time writing about current and future program operations. Program policies and procedures will apply to describing services to children with disabilities, screening and assessment practices, evaluation of staff, and fiscal accountability.

Are you afraid to share information about DRS status with staff, program leadership, and community partners?  Learn what to do.

The timeline was very helpful. The support on the documents needed was organized in such a way that we could gather the information. It was also wonderful that Amy was always responsive to my needs. She allowed me to call her when I expressed a need and responded to emails quickly.

Deb Winkelman

VP of Early Education and Director of Early Head Start, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative

[Working with FFF, we developed] a stronger application that was more inclusive of the information the grantor was mostly likely wanting to receive. We had a very comprehensive application that we were proud to submit.

The templates, timelines, examples, phone calls for check-ins and keeping staff on task and of course the many words of encouragement! Reviewing our drafts and providing feedback were very helpful.

Linda Carter

Children's Services Director, Western Carolina Community Action, Inc.

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