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Monthly Archives: April 2012

The future of Federal grant making is in your hands if you act now!

The Federal government of the United States of America spends more than $600,000,000,000 (or $600 billion) each year in the form of grants and cooperative agreements. Out of the 26 Federal grant-making agencies, the eight largest are the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Transportation.

 

A Notice of Proposed Rule-making, published in the Federal Register (FR v79 n39 Feb 28 2012: 11778-11785) states in part that “in order to ensure that the public receives the most value for the tax dollars spent, it is essential that… programs function as effectively and efficiently as possible, and that there be a high level of accountability to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.” At issue across dozens of proposed reforms is “proper stewardship of Federal funds.”

 

Reforms to Grant Cost Principles:

Among the Reforms to Cost Principles (in Circulars A-21, A-87, and A-122, and Cost Principles for Hospitals) being considered in 2012 are to:

 

  1. Consolidate the cost principles into a single document, with limited variations by type of entity
  2. For indirect (‘‘facilities and administrative’’) costs, use flat rates instead of negotiated rates
  3. Explore alternatives to time-and-effort reporting requirements for salaries and wages
  4. Expand application of the Utility Cost Adjustment for research to more higher education institutions
  5. Charge directly allocable administrative support as a direct cost
  6. Include the cost of certain computing devices as allowable direct cost supplies
  7. Clarify the threshold for an allowable maximum residual inventory of unused supplies
  8. Eliminate requirements to conduct studies of cost reasonableness for large research facilities
  9. Eliminate restrictions on use of indirect costs recovered for depreciation or use allowances
  10. Eliminate requirements to conduct a lease-purchase analysis for interest costs and to provide notice before relocating federally sponsored activities from a debt-financed facility
  11. Eliminate requirements that printed ‘‘help-wanted’’ advertising comply with particular specifications
  12. Allow for the budgeting for contingency funds for certain awards
  13. Request that the Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) consider increasing the minimum threshold for disclosure statements
  14. Allow for excess or idle capacity for certain facilities, in anticipation of usage increases
  15. Allow costs for efforts to collect improper payment recoveries
  16. Specify that gains and/or losses due to speculative financing arrangements are unallowable
  17. Provide non-profit organizations an example of the Certificate of Indirect Costs
  18. Provide non-profit organizations with an example of indirect cost proposal documentation requirements

 

Reforms to Grant Administrative Requirements:

In addition, among the Reforms to Administrative Requirements (the Common Rule implementing Circulars A-102, A-110 and A-89) under consideration are:

 

  1. Create a consolidated, uniform set of administrative requirements
  2. Require pre-award consideration of each proposal’s merit and each applicant’s financial risk
  3. Require agencies to provide 90- day notice of funding opportunities
  4. Provide a standard format for announcements of funding opportunities
  5. Reiterate that information collections are subject to Paperwork Reduction Act approval

 

Other reforms are under consideration as well. Though April 30, 2012 (an extended deadline!), the public is invited to submit comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and at http://www.regulations.gov.

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Budget. YCESC will contribute the services of a Project Coordinator (conservatively estimated at 10% full-time equivalent) to organize, coordinate, and evaluate the project’s Environmental Education training and dissemination activities in collaboration with its school and Watershed Education partners. Use of local and state in-kind matching funds will exceed 25% of the total cost of the project; they will represent an estimated $9,000 (or 26.47%) out of a total budget of $34,000. 

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Project Evaluation. As local educational agencies, both YCESC and its school district partners continuously evaluate and report results of educational programs for all students and all staff. Several individual YCESC staff members have 10 or more years of experience in program management and evaluation. Their expertise and accomplishments in meeting and exceeding state and federal evaluation and fiscal accountability standards are widely recognized.

 

The project will use (a) pre-post teacher surveys, (b) observation checklists, and (c) pre-post participant surveys to measure: (1) the project’s effectiveness in increasing infusion of existing Watershed Education curricular resources into the Science curriculum (grades 6-12) in 12 districts; and (2) the project’s effectiveness in increasing teachers, parents’, and other stakeholders’ critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills in environmental issues of water resource management in the Saco River Watershed. Evaluation of project activities also will use testing instruments and performance measures that are packaged with the existing Watershed Education model curricular materials. The Project Coordinator will confer at least monthly with representatives of all project partners to review and discuss collection and analysis of evaluation data and to identify any needed changes in the project’s approach. Results will be reported to all partners and the EPA.

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.  

 

Partners. The project will feature 12 school districts and 10 partners in Watershed Education. YCESC and its partner school districts will provide coordination, access to facilities and supplies, and support for teachers to participate in training activities.   The Maine Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Project WETLANDS Coordinator will provide training for secondary school teachers and community members in the Project WETLANDS curricula. The Maine Conservation Commission’s Project RIVERS Coordinator will provide training for secondary school teachers and community members in the Project RIVERS curriculum. The Region 1 Professional Development Center also will provide teacher training in Project WETLANDS and Project RIVERS and training in integrating Environmental Education in other school subjects.  

 

The US Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maine Ecological Services Field Office will do presentations to schools or community groups on water quality and environmental careers in wildlife conservation and will provide materials on Maine and New Hampshire natural resources. The US Geological Survey’s Water Resources Division will furnish studies and data on water quality and stream-flow and field seminars at stream quality sampling sites. The York County Extension Center will conduct stream-walk field experiences, provide stream-flow models, and supply experts for presentations on environmental careers and/or environmental issues.  

 

The Maine Association for Environmental Education will serve as a referral resource for expert guest speakers and materials in the areas of environmental careers, environmental issues, and water quality monitoring. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service will provide access to technical experts, stream trailers, groundwater models, handbooks, fact sheets, curricula, and teacher guides. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection will furnish guest speakers and assistance in project planning. The Saco River Corridor Commission, of Porter, Maine and Conway, New Hampshire, will provide materials on bio-monitoring and watershed protection and a consultant-presenter.  

 

YCESC will use print and electronic media to seek more partners during the project. It also will solicit technical assistance and/or sustained funding from multiple public and private sources (e.g., Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Corporation Commission, Maine Green Energy Network, L.L. Bean, Inc, other outdoor businesses, and local school boards).

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Resources. Each Watershed Education model curriculum will have abundant materials. They will include extensive curricular implementation guidelines; detailed lesson plans; master lists of key concepts and skills; water sampling, analysis, and reporting protocols; and/or field and/or lab work kits. In addition, partners will offer for local use several portable, working models of stream ecology and stream hydrology. Model curricular units will focus on watershed habitats and ecosystems. They will support inclusion of English language learners and students with disabilities. Adaptable activities will accommodate students with special needs.

 

Lessons will be designed to occur in the classroom, in school labs, and/or in informal outdoor settings. They will be experiential, interdisciplinary, interactive, and applied and they will incorporate state and national standards, higher order thinking skills, and links to real-world concerns in inquiry-based environmental investigations. The classroom, field, and lab experiences will take students from concrete experiences to abstract concepts and will engage them in the physical reality of their immediate environments.

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Specific Steps. The timeline will be July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. The school year will start in September 2012 and will end in June 2013.

 

The list below specifies when core activities will occur, what these activities are, and the funder’s share of cost allocations within the proposed budget. [NOTE: In a proposal narrative, the list would appear in a 3-column table format.]

 

  • July 1, 2012-Mar. 31, 2013: Contact sources of training in model curricula. $200
  • July 1, 2012-Mar. 31, 2013: Schedule training in model curricula. $120
  • Sept. 15, 2012-May. 15, 2013: Do training in RIVERS, WETLANDS, and WETLANDS Aquatic. $8,494
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 30, 2013: Link issues to training in model curricula.
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 15, 2013: Implement model curricula after training events. $109
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 15, 2013: Do lab and field monitoring experiences. $14,600
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 30, 2013: Evaluate training in RIVERS, WETLANDS, and WETLANDS-Aquatic
  • July 1, 2012-May 15, 2013: Organize guest speaker series on careers/issues. $140
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 1, 2013: Do guest speaker series on watershed issues. $250
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 1, 2013: Do guest speaker series on environmental careers. $250
  • Sept. 15, 2012-June 30, 2013: Evaluate guest speaker series.
  • Jan. 1, 2013-June 30, 2013: Do follow-up on training in model curricula.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Outcomes. Anticipated long-term outcomes include: (1) improved higher order thinking skills (decision-making, problem-solving, critical-thinking); (2) more positive and sustainable community support for watershed conservation, protection, and management; (3) increased use of community resources in classroom instruction; (4) an increased sense of stewardship for the Saco River Watershed among participants; (5) increased student exposure to decision making in real-world situations; and (6) increased student motivation to learn and to participate in learning experiences. 

Activities and Delivery Methods. The project will use several Watershed Education model curricula (RIVERS, WETLANDS, and WETLANDS Aquatic) as primary Environmental Education resources. Teachers and community members will complete one or more of the models’ training processes. Once trained, partners will encourage the participants to commit to training others in using the model curricula in their classroom and community contexts. The curricular resources were selected to promote critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills and responsible approaches to issues in natural resource conservation, protection, and management in the Saco River Watershed.

 

Teachers and community members of the 12 local districts always will have first priority for all training in the Watershed Education model curricula. As appropriate, the project also will open training slots to teachers in other districts and to residents elsewhere in the Saco River Watershed.

 

The applicant will coordinate closely with its 21 partners. Through their classroom and field training experiences, participants will learn and practice methods for comparing benchmark data (sample blanks) to site water samples; using and converting metric units; applying scientific methods of observation, data collection, and analysis; caring for field and lab equipment; testing for physical and chemical properties of water (e.g., pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, phosphates, nitrates); and collecting and reporting samples of insects and fishes. They will learn interactive curricular activities in extensive curricular guides for use in Watershed Education. In addition, they will learn uses of displays for demonstrating concepts in Watershed Education such as tabletop creek models, stream hydrology trailers, and groundwater flow models. Participants also will learn how to equip and use water quality sampling kits for fieldwork and classroom demonstrations and how to integrate Internet-based resources in reporting, sharing, and studying data.

 

YCESC will arrange a training workshop series on watershed-related Environmental Education topics. It will contact sources of training; schedule times and places for the training; notify target audiences of the training places and times; deliver training experiences through its project partners; link local environmental issues directly to the training; implement curricula and programs in local schools and communities; and assess impacts of the training and of local use of the curricula and programs. The YCESC Professional Development Center will host most training events.

 

Several partners will furnish a series of guest speakers. During the school year, they will present to target audiences at YCTC or at one or more schools or community groups on environmental issues impacting the health of the Saco River Watershed and/or on environmental careers in southern Maine. YCTC will contact partners to arrange presenters; schedule times and places for each presentation; notify target audiences of each presentation; conduct the presentations; and assess the impacts of each presentation. 

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Goals. The long-term goal will be to contribute to improving local capacity to apply decision-making, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills to using sustained and effective watershed resource management practices in the Saco River Watershed. The short-term goal will be to build local capacity for educational reform in teaching Science in 12 rural, suburban, and urban districts by training 60 participants (36 teachers, 24 community members) in existing, high-quality standards-driven, inquiry-based model curricula for Watershed Education, such as Project WETLANDS, Project WETLANDS Aquatic, Project RIVERS, and materials of the Maine Blue Waters Stream Ecology Program.

 

Objectives. Objectives will include: (1) to increase 36 teachers’ use and infusion of existing, inquiry-based Watershed Education model curricular materials into teaching Science in grades 6-12, as measured by pre-post teacher surveys and observation checklists; (2) to increase 60 participants’ (36 teachers, 24 community members) knowledge of ways they can use existing, inquiry-based Watershed Education curricular materials to increase students’ critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, as measured by pre-post participant surveys; (3) to increase 36 teachers’ knowledge of strategies for integrating environmental careers into Science instruction in grades 6-12, as measured by pre-post teacher surveys and observation checklists; and (4) to increase students’, teachers’, and community members’ knowledge of environmental issues impacting the health of the Saco River Watershed in southern Maine, as measured by pre-post participant surveys. All objectives will be to be accomplished by the end of the grant period.

 

Training will advance school district, community, and state goals. Each district’s Comprehensive Plan emphasizes expansion of training for classroom teachers in inquiry-based science, cross-disciplinary studies, community resource integration, career exploration, and higher order thinking skills. The project also will advance the goals and priorities of the Saco River Corridor Commission, the Maine Conservation Commission, and the Maine Water Resources Board’s Strategic Plan (2007-2017). These goals and priorities include improving and protecting water quality in the watershed and educating members of the public about the role of the Saco River in Maine’s and New Hampshire’s historical and economic development and future prosperity. 

This is one in a series of posts presenting sample elements of a possible proposal. In their illustrative details, its contents are both fictional and factual; however, its overall approach has won grants for similar purposes.

 

Strategies. Training will be available in Project WETLANDS, Project WETLANDS Aquatic, and Project RIVERS. After training, teachers will integrate the instructional materials, kits, and field and lab experiences with their existing classroom Science curricula and will link them in lesson plans to Maine’s content and performance standards (Maine Learning Results, 2007).

 

Training activities will increase participants’ capacities: (1) to connect Science to other subjects; (2) to build on students’ natural desires to make sense out of their environment; (3) to build skills to bridge between what students know and what they do not know; (4) to link learning to specific purposes for using those skills; and (5) to incorporate students’ experiences in and observations of nature into the Science curriculum along with the students’ cultural and environmental contexts. 

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