Sneak Preview: Grantseeking Quicktips – Agency Focus: SAMHSA

February 10, 2012 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

(This post is based on an upcoming article in Thompson’s Local/State Funding Report. Subscribers can read the entire piece in their Feb. 13 issue.) Better applicants mean better projects and better fulfillment of grant program missions. The federal agencies that award grants have a vested interest in attracting as many strong and qualified applicants as possible in response to their funding solicitations.

While most federal agencies list a program contact or two in their funding announcements, many also have developed trainings, technical assistance aids and other resources to help prospective applicants develop the best applications possible. One agency that provides extensive support to the potential applicants for its grant programs is the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

SAMHSA demonstrates an impressively strong commitment to its applicants and recipients. The agency’s hands-on approach starts before eligible entities even apply for funding and continues throughout the life of each award.

Program-Specific Guidance

Some of the guidance and assistance SAMHSA provides is tailored to specific grant programs. For example, the recent funding announcement for its Drug Free Communities program contained detailed application instructions and examples of required application components.

SAMHSA also held a series of in-person applicant workshops for the DRC program, where agency staff reviewed general program information, its statutory eligibility requirements, the 12 questions of the application’s project narrative, and provided guidance on how to prepare a budget and complete the required federal forms. The agency also provided free online technical assistance videos for prospective applicants who could not attend a live workshop.

SAMHSA also offers phone-based technical assistance regarding specific content for DRC applications, such as action plan development, logic model development, environmental strategies and the strategic prevention framework.

Agencywide Guidance

In addition to program-specific assistance, SAMHSA’s website has extensive guidance and resources that span all of its grant programs. For example, one webpage contains information about SAMHSA’s online grants application process, including the importance of having a current registration in the Central Contractor Registry, basic information about using Grants.gov and a link to a “Get Started with Grants.gov” webcast.

SAMHSA also shares the templates it uses to develop its funding opportunity announcements, the formatting requirements required for all of its applications, the package of required forms, and guidance on critical elements of the application process.

SAMHSA directs prospective applicants to a number of grantwriting resources it has developed and maintains a technical assistance and training page.

SAMHSA is not alone in offering these kinds of resources. Regardless of the grant you’re applying for or how much grantwriting experience your organization may have, you will be able to benefit from searching out any guidance and assistance that is available from a funding agency. Those resources are intended to generate the strongest applicant pool possible, and contain valuable insights about what the agency looks for when selecting grantees to carry out the mission of its programs.

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