The next round of DRS is forecasted to open for competition this fall. On grants.gov, Head Start/Early Head Start grant forecasts are grouped by state. You can also view a detailed list of funding forecasts, including service areas, funding amounts, and estimated number of awards on the Office of Head Start (OHS) Funding Opportunities website.
The estimated posting date for Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) is September 7, 2020. Applications are estimated to be due on November 6, 2020.
If your Head Start/Early Head Start program will be competing in DRS for the first time, there are a few differences to keep in mind between a DRS application and a baseline or continuation application.
- Competitiveness. The most important difference between baseline or continuation applications and DRS is competitiveness. DRS competitions are competitive, meaning any eligible agency may apply for the funding. Baseline and continuation applications are non-competitive.
- 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.
- Required appendix items. Unlike baseline and continuation applications, for which few additional items are required, DRS applications will include many attachments. The Appendix could be around 75 pages and will include items such as letters of support, agreements and MOUs, approval letters, policies, and resumes.
- 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, one factor will be new for everyone: COVID. We anticipate COVID could impact multiple areas of your proposal. Below are a few examples.
- Demonstration of Need. In many communities, 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 changing community needs.
- Program Design. State guidelines and updated licensing requirements could impact program planning and how your program operates. Be prepared to write about these changes, and keep in mind potential impacts on staffing, supplies, or other aspects of your program.
- Planning and Implementation. If your program is proposing a new model (e.g., moving from Head Start only to Head Start/Early Head Start), the start up period will be critical. Look at start up through a COVID lens to identify circumstances that could impact key startup activities (e.g., enrollment, training, hiring staff).
Whether your program is new to DRS or competing for a second time, help is available. If your program plans to write its own proposal and needs support through the process, you might consider a strategy to build organizational capacity for grant writing. Foundations for Families offers a variety of Grant Writing Solutions, including grant coaching services. Please contact us to learn more.