Preparing for DRS

What are your next steps for DRS round 9?


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.

For the ninth round of DRS grant competitions, we are currently working with our comprehensive grant writing clients to develop plans to complete their grant proposal. At this time, we are not taking on new clients for comprehensive grant writing services for DRS.

However, there are still several options available to support your program! Consider building your program’s organizational capacity to respond to grant applications through grant coaching or our DRS Toolkit. In both cases, your program will draft its own proposal, with varying levels of support.

In grant coaching, Foundations for Families will provide your program with the tools and materials to draft your grant. Our experienced team members will coach your program staff through the process, leveraging internal expertise and providing tips for how to effectively and efficiently write grant applications.

Grant coaching also involves a critical feedback loop. As a program completes each narrative section of its proposal, Foundations for Families team members provide an in-depth review with feedback on content, format, competitiveness, and alignment with grant requirements and evaluation criteria. The goal is to help a program refine its narrative to ensure it is compliant and compelling.

By the end of the grant coaching process, programs are confident in their ability and equipped with the skills to respond to future grant opportunities. Building organizational capacity through grant coaching is a short-term investment that has long-term benefits extending far beyond the immediacy of DRS. We have a limited number of opportunities available for grant coaching.

The DRS Toolkit can help jumpstart the grant writing process. The toolkit resources equip your program with a timeline, narrative template, background resources, and questions directed to the criteria to help you successfully draft and submit a competitive proposal. For the DRS Round 9 toolkit, we will provide you with the tools from DRS Round 8 now, and provide an updated set of tools once the new FOA is released. This will allow you to begin working on program design, data collection and timeline planning. The toolkit comes with an orientation session. Additional technical support can be provided upon request.

In addition to these options, Foundations for Families can also provide a Quality Assurance Review. After a detailed review of your narrative, we will provide feedback to strengthen compliance and competitiveness of the proposal. Our submission support will walk you through application submission step-by-step so that you gain an understanding of and feel confident that your application is compliant and meets the deadline.

Contact us to find out which solutions are right for you.



Insights from the EHS-CCP and HS/EHS expansion FOAs may set expectations for DRS

>>read more


These tips from DRS round 6 still apply in round 9.

>>read more


The estimated posting date for Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) is October 7, 2020

>>read more

Develop your application strategy for DRS 9


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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