The school year is ending and summer is upon us. We are all slammed with end of year activities and now our thoughts float to getting some well-deserved time off and lazy days at the lake. We have submitted some great Department of Education grants for STEM, literacy, P.E. and afterschool programs. The DOE is pretty quiet this time of year so now we sit back and wait to hear the results of our pending proposals sometime in August. Right? Wrong!
There are a number of outstanding opportunities for youth service grants though foundations, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor that have just been released and are due this summer. And, since many of your colleagues are up at the lake these grants often times are less competitive because they receive less proposals. I would like to examine two programs here that I really like and educators and nonprofits should consider applying for now.
I am thinking of the “Street Outreach Program” and the “Basic Centers Program”, both offered through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Each grant provides up to $200,000 a year for 3 years to fund programs to serve homeless youths. “Street Outreach” is offering 46 grants and “Basic Centers” is offering 102! You have probably applied for federal grants that were offering only 12 or 15 in the past, so you know that that is a lot of grant awards!
Now, you might be saying, “We don’t serve homeless kids”. I would ask you, “Are you sure”? If you think about it you might be able to recall several children that were in your school or in your programs that were in fact homeless. I would suggest that there are a lot more than you think. And this is a great opportunity to find out.
Youth homelessness is a serious problem in America. According to The National Runaway Switchboard, “On any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends, or with strangers. Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death. It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide”. (From the National Conference of State Legislators)
The primary purpose of the Street Outreach Program is to provide street-based services to runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to, or are at risk of being subjected to, sexual abuse, prostitution, sexual exploitation, and severe forms of trafficking in persons. The scope of work is to include outreach, prevention, individualized assessment, service linkages, case planning, and follow-up for youth.
The primary purpose of The Basic Center Program is to establish or strengthen community-based programs that meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families. The programs provide youth up to age 18 years old with emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling and referrals for health care.
For the Street Outreach Program you must have a plan that outlines where staff will conduct individualized, face-to-face outreach to youth in places where they congregate on the streets for certain hours, with a defined frequency of visits, routes, and locations, using such techniques as branding, carrying basic need packs, employing street outreach workers, and developing street-based safety protocols. This includes protocols and strategies to respond to youth who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
For the Basic Centers Program you need to be able to provide up to 21 days of shelter for youth and seek to reunite young people with their families, whenever possible, or to locate appropriate alternative placements. Shelter services must accommodate no less than 4 and not more than a maximum capacity of 20 youth.
A really important thing to remember about this as well as other grant programs is that you do not have to currently be doing everything that is required. The best grant writer I have ever met once told me, “You must remember it is a proposal. We are proposing to do things. We don’t have to be doing all of these things already. We just need to demonstrate that our community has the need and we have the capacity to serve that need”.
So what do I mean by this? Say that you have an afterschool program, or a counseling program, or a tutoring program, or any number of other programs for youth. What you need to do is first determine if there is a need in your community for services for homeless kids. How big a problem is this? If it is a problem, and again, you might be surprised when you look at your local statistics, the next question is “Is this problem being adequately addressed?” If the answer is no, then you are in business.
The next step is to look at all of the nonprofits in the community and find out who is doing what and who can help you to fill in all of the required segments of care. For Street Outreach, for instance, you will find a list of all of the required and expected services that must be provided in the RFP. Remember, you do not need to provide them yourself necessarily. You just need to have a partner that can.
Street Outreach Required Services:
Continuum Service Linkages: Projects must coordinate with others, such as government, nonprofits, other outreach teams, referral providers, and service providers to ensure the ability to serve the homeless youth population. Service linkages must include, but not limited to:
- Health (Medical/Dental)
- Mental health/emotional support
- Substance abuse treatment
- Employment services
- Sexual assault services
- Legal Services
You and your team then identify potential partners to fill the categories and you start making phone calls and go visit some people. If you are a nonprofit organization you really need to do this anyway. This is a powerful way to build capacity for your organization and once you develop relationships with other groups in your community you can then work together on multiple initiatives and become much more appealing to funders for other grant opportunities. Too many nonprofits try and go it alone or see themselves as competing with other groups. Don’t think this way. When we combine our resources we are much more effective and we can accomplish so much more.
Once you have the partners in place you decide how everyone will contribute and you write up what is known as Memorandums of Understanding or MOUs that define each partner’s contribution and responsibilities.
Now all that is left is the easy part of writing the grant proposal!
Happy Writing and Good Luck,
P.S. If you need assistance identifying and securing partners, that is just one of the many services Resource Associates provides. Take a look at our Partnership Services as well as our Grant Writing and Technical Review Services. Not sure which grants are the best fit for your organization? Let us create a Grant Research Opportunity report for you that outlines which grants align best with your mission.