If your program is preparing to write a DRS application this fall, now is a great time to consider the resources and information you will need for success. While there are many steps to prepare for and write grant applications, today we focus on the importance of data updates as essential “pre-work.” Here are a few tips you might keep in mind.
1. Determine the data you will need. If possible, review a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that is similar to the NOFO you anticipate responding to in order to determine what data points might be required in your application. You can explore open opportunities on the Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) Locator and find an example here. You will need data on eligible children, agencies serving eligible children, community needs, and more.
2. Consider the data you will want. In addition to providing data that is required in an application, you may need additional data that helps to justify your proposal. Think about how you will describe the need for services through data and how you will use data to justify your proposed use of funds.
3. Take inventory in your most recent community assessment and wage study. Consider, how do your most recent community assessment and wage study line up with what you will need and want for grant writing? Does it provide current and relevant data to justify your program design and budget, including staff compensation? Outdated or incomplete data should be top priority for updating prior to grant writing.
4. Leverage your program data. As 2022-2023 Program Information Reports (PIR) are finalized, you’ll have recent data to be able to talk about your program. Use data to highlight the strengths of your program. For example, does your program have a history of serving a high percent of enrolled children with disabilities? Are you reaching substantial numbers of single parent families? Or families experiencing homelessness? While most of a DRS proposal is about the future (what your program will do once awarded funds), there are opportunities to write about your program’s past performance. Be prepared to highlight the strengths of your program.
5. Reflect on overarching factors impacting the community and how your program can help better support children and families. Sometimes there are factors impacting communities that don’t immediately show up in the data. The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic is an example. Other examples might include environmental risk factors or national disasters. Living or working in the communities served provides program staff the opportunity to deeply understand local need. Take time to explore unique circumstances impacting need in your communities and document this as part of your data updates.
With these tips in mind, your program will be well positioned to respond to required data, provide data that justifies your grant proposal, and show your understanding of historic and current data trends.
Foundations for Families offers a variety of Consulting Services, including data updates and grant writing. If your program is interested to learn more, please be in touch, and we would be glad to discuss your program’s needs.
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