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Planning a proposal to win a grant from a unit of state or local government may be viewed as a 12-step process. These are the first six steps:


1. Search. Use a project outline or a similar device as a guide for planning and identifying a suitable project. Consider which possible agency focus areas best fit your needs: Health, Human Services, Education, Community Development, Economic Development, Public Safety, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Environment, Agriculture, or Energy, or something else. Research each selected focus area using state-level and local databases and websites. Be aware that agencies and programs vary vastly in what grant information they present and how they present it.


2. Solicit. Research or contact state or local agencies and offices to learn more about programs and priorities. Learn if there are notifications lists you can join to be alerted to new funding opportunities. Learn who handles the state’s single point of contact questions. Learn if the state has a central clearinghouse for requests for proposals (RFPs) or notices of funding availability (NOFAs). If you have not found it on your own, ask if the state has a single online portal for its proposal solicitations and submissions. Ask also if the state requires applicants to preregister.


3. Network. Network extensively. Attend state or regional conferences in your selected areas of focus. Network with regional, state, county, or city professional associations, chambers of commerce, councils, commissions, consortia, or boards. Link up with universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical centers. Work with local development boards, economic councils, and non-profit organizations. If no networks for grant seekers exist, form one.


4. Monitor. Practice vigilant grant seeking. Monitor state and local agency websites and clearinghouses for grant opportunities. Join and monitor agency e-mail notifications lists. Review selected professional journals, trade publications, and funding-related newsletters. Monitor online grants databases for updates on state and local grant opportunities.


5. Select. Identify up to five potential sources of state or local funding. Focus on city, county, regional, or state-level agencies, departments, and programs whose missions most closely parallel your organization’s mission. Visit their websites. Review their funding options and initiatives. Examine their published performance data and annual reports, if any. Look for clues about their appropriations, resource allocations, accomplishments, and priorities. Consider the degree of fit between each state or local grant program and your project. Eliminate as prospects those funding programs having a poor or forced or uncertain fit.


6. Assess. Match your project to each identified grant opportunity. Assess each opportunity in terms of seven core questions: Eligibility: Do you qualify? Geography: Does it fund in your area? Focus: Does it fit your interests? Support: Is your organization ready to apply? Funds: Does the amount available fit your needs? Time: Is the project period long enough? Deadline: Can you prepare a strong proposal in time to meet it?


Six more steps for planning to win a state or local grant will appear here soon


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