If you’re interested in applying for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) – and a few are expected to be announced any day now, then awarded in June – you’ll want to make use of a new website that provides a variety of tools for prospective applicants.
This site – Grant Applications 101- A Plain English Guide to ETA Competitive Grants – is not commercial, but created by the ETA through consultation with specialists and stakeholders in the application process. It is meant to help organizations, particularly small nonprofits with little to no grant-writing experience, make their grant applications more competitive.
The site has three main tools: A guide that is essentially a series of short audio clips that deal with a variety of topics on the grant application process; a sample of a successful Solicitation for Grant Application, or SGA; and a compilation of helpful resources.
One U.S. Department of Labor official described the site as crucial to any nonprofit that doesn’t have a paid grant writer on staff.
In some respects, it might be better. For instance, the guide deals with mistakes that are commonly made in unsuccessful applications, such as proposing unallowable activities and ineligible participants, and exceeding page limits on sections of the application.
The guide also cites the need to use data from authoritative sources to demonstrate the need for funding. In other words, don’t just say there are a lot of people who need your service. Try to quantify that with some official statistical report.
One of the most interesting and useful features of the tool is that it enables you to search for key concepts for which you may need more insight. For instance, if you search for “leverage,” one of the clips explains how “leveraging resources for your project may help you show reviewers that you want to expand the impact of ETA’s funding and position yourself to keep the project going even after the grant funding ends.”
At other times, the guide serves as that voice that might keep you from doing something stupid, like submitting an application when you know good and well that it looks like it got put together at the last minute.
Here’s what the guide says about that: “Applications that appear to be hastily put together run the risk of being scored low.” In an era of scarce funding, a low score might as well be no score.