Are you ready to apply? The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) at the Department of Justice provides grant funding to eligible campuses to support their efforts launching prevention and response programs for students who have experienced sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.
For those of us who work in the campus sexual- and gender-based violence prevention and response world, late January is a moment of both excitement, and dread; as it has for over twenty years, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) at the Department of Justice will soon issue its request for proposals.
For those campuses who are eligible, this funding of up to $300,000 for individual campuses, $550,000 for consortia involving 2-4 partners, and $750,000 for large consortia projects can be the rocket fuel you campus needs to launch effective and comprehensive prevention and response programs for your institution
As the former director of an OVW campus grant program, as someone who has delivered training to campuses with active grants, and who has written campus grants, I know that landing this funding requires a LOT of work. But there are a few strategies that can increase your likelihood for success--and. Here are my top tips for landing the big grant.
Start right now! Begin by reviewing the 2022 solicitation and making note of all of the required elements for the program. Documenting that all incoming students fully participate in prevention education training, delivering bystander intervention for all students and providing ongoing education are a few of the requirements for this grant program. These program requirements may be delivered digitally or in-person, but be sure to include a clear description and rationale for these efforts. Choosing programs with evidence of effectiveness and that can be configured to your specific community needs will also strengthen your proposal.
Every year, OVW determines priority funding areas, and for 2022, it is:
“Improve outreach, services, civil and criminal justice responses, prevention, and support for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking from underserved communities, particularly LGBTQ and immigrant communities.”
If you are serving these communities, consider how to develop a grant proposal that focuses on services and outreach efforts to these communities.
As in life, so in OVW grants, strong relationships are the key to success. Approach your intended external and internal partners whose participation is required on the grant. Ideally, you’ll already have these partnerships in place so that the External Memorandum of Understanding (EMOU) can be formalized. If not, reach out now to the local law enforcement agency and the community victim services provider that is best positioned to support the specific activities in the grant.
Be sure you include external partners in developing the grant activities, and that you’re forging equitable relationships with appropriate financial support for their contributions. And, leave PLENTY of time to gather all of the internal MOU signatures. Schedule signature meetings well ahead of time--the last thing you want is to be one signature short because the President is out of office.
Check that your campus has taken action to ensure that you’re eligible and able to submit a proposal. Check with your Office for Sponsored Programs or other grant offices to make sure that you’re set up to submit through the Grants.gov site.
And while you’re speaking to them, find out what the internal process and timeline is for review and submission, and who is designated at your institution to apply for federal funds. It is very common for grant offices to have internal deadlines that are a week or more prior to the final federal submission date.
Remember--this grant program is intended to support capacity-building. It is ideal for campuses that have already begun seeking to address these issues, but need short-term, intensive support (both in technical assistance as well as funding dollars) to really institutionalize prevention and survivor support efforts.
As you’re writing this grant, note the positive efforts that your campus has already begun, and describe how your campus will continue the programs after grant funding ends. Some examples that you can draw on include senior leader messaging related to these issues, student activism and engagement, or efforts to understand the scope of the issue through campus climate surveys or other evaluation and assessment data.
Speaking of data, make sure that you’re basing your purpose of application in campus-specific, or local domestic violence or law enforcement data (or, ideally, all three) so that you present a clear picture of these issues on the campus. You’ll also illustrate that your institution already has capacity for using data to support a program.
Data and evidence should also be used to support why you have chosen specific interventions, activities or approaches over other options. By using both data and other evidence to explain your choices, you demonstrate that you understand the importance of tailoring the effort to your specific campus needs and to different student communities.
Pay close attention to the confidentiality and victim safety provisos in the RFP, and make sure that your institutional policies and procedures are aligned (or can be aligned) to these requirements.
Some campuses may institute mutual no-contact orders for both parties when a report is made, or make separation arrangements without consulting the student who has been harmed. These are prohibited activities under the grant and can make you ineligible for funding or cause other problems post award. Another common issue is that campuses may have universal reporting mandates in place for all faculty and staff, which can conflict with the requirements for victim confidentiality encoded in this grant.
Once the RFP is issued, review this year’s priority areas to see if these align with your institution’s needs, as well as any new or changed program requirements. Lastly, participate in the information session and double-check important dates and deadlines. A little head start may be just what you need to make this year’s application a success. Good luck!
Holly leads the Impact & Education team at Vector Solutions, helping ensure that the thought leadership we deliver to our customers is based on research and established best practice and she's also our subject matter expert on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment and violence. Holly joined Vector Solutions most recently from the University of Michigan where she oversaw that institution's prevention and advocacy efforts for nearly a decade. Holly also brings national policy experience to her role at Vector Solutions as one of the rulemakers for the 2014 Clery Act regulations and an advisor to the Obama Administration White House Taskforce on preventing campus sexual assault. She brings over 25 years of experience in preventing and responding to sexual- and gender-based violence in higher education, workplaces, and communities.