6 Pro Tips to Help You Land a Campus Grant

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The Application Period for Grants is Open!

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 and $750,000 for large consortia projects can be the rocket fuel your 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.

Six Tips for Applying for a Grant

1. Start right now!

Begin by reviewing the 2020 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.

2. Remember: strong relationships are key to success

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.

Set the Tone for the Future of Your Institution

Prevention education is one of the most sound investments an institution can make, and new data show that issues of safety and well-being impact all stages of the student lifecycle.

3. Check that your campus is eligible and able to submit a proposal

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.

4. Note the positive efforts that your campus has already begun

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.

5. Use data and campus-specific evidence

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.

6. Pay attention to your policies and procedures (e.g. regarding confidentiality and victim safety)

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!

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