15 points on How to write a grant:
You can do this. The secret of great grant writing is following directions.
- Read the RFP 5 times to make sure you understand everything
- Get a Duns Number if you do not have one
- Duns Number
- Articles of Incorporation
- Logic Model – find example on line—fill in the blanks
- It is a planning tool
- Explains what you are doing and why you are doing it
- Point system
- Everything has a point
- Must get every point possible: A+ paper
- Extremely competitive
- Pages for each section determined by the number of points
- No extra pages
- Make it easy for the grant writers to score your grant by highlighting areas
- Evidenced based
- Separation of Church and State
- Prepared to serve same sex couples
- Get help
- Grant writer
- i. You still must write the grant, they are there to assist you
- ii. FFCOA has limited resources to assist you in grant writing
- iii. One person does the budget, another gets the MOU signatures
- iv. Proof read by someone outside your organization to make sure that it makes sense
- Different people can help
- Make sure your budget balances
- Build your budget in a Excel file because it can do automatic calculations
- Run your numbers a couple of times to make sure they are accurate
- Budget is not available for capital improvements
- Don’t ask for more money than is allowed
- Get your signatures early on your documents
- Two organizations on a page—trouble getting everything perfect
- Where and how are you going to get your participants
- Much harder than expected
- Matching funds
- Not required
- You can still include it—consider the use of volunteer time for matching funds
- Who will do what and do they have the credentials to do it, degrees
- Credentials include their experience with the populations served
- Organizational chart
- Time line
- You will need to explain what you will be doing in what period of time
- Secret is figuring out how to do this using as little space as possible
- Submitting grant
- Finish grant on time
- Follow the directions regarding clamping, margins, etc.
- Write the summary last
- Summary should elicit a lot of forethought and attention to ensure it grabs, and more importantly, maintains the reviewer's attention.
- Separate your proposal from other grant applicants by highlighting any portions which could be considered distinct and innovative.
- Everyone depends on your success
- Do the work whether you get the grant or not
- If you do get the grant, future funding for all of us depends on the quality of your work
Improving and Enhancing Fatherhood and Marriage/Relationship Education programs.
During the past nine years, the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration of Children and Families (ACF) supported Healthy Marriage/Relationship and Fatherhood grants to agencies and organizations. These grants were designed to help participants build and sustain healthy relationships and marriages, and to strengthen positive father-child interaction. ACF funded 55 organizations across the United States to provide Responsible Fatherhood activities. Grantees were called upon to help fathers: 1. Improve their relationship with their spouses, significant others, and/or the mothers of their children, 2. Become better parents, 3. Contribute to the financial well-being of their children by providing job training. Additionally, ACF funded 60 organizations across the country to provide comprehensive healthy relationship and marriage education services, as well as job and career advancement activities to promote economic stability and overall improvement of family well-being.
This funding was inspired by research statistics regarding the poor outcomes for children raised in single parent families and the poverty level of single parents. Research demonstrated over and over again that children do better when raised by two stable functioning parents. Children perform better in school, have better physical and mental health, in adolescence delay becoming sexually active, and are more likely to rise out of poverty. Children, whose parents marry and stay married, have lower rates of substance abuse and lower risks of committing crimes, thus, avoiding becoming involved in the Juvenile Justice System.
Sadly, today, nearly one-third of American children are born outside of marriage. Moreover, over one-half of these children will spend all or part of their childhoods in never-formed or broken families. In 2014, 44% of children in the U.S. were born to unmarried mothers. Within the same period, 72% of African American mothers were unmarried to the father of their child. By age five, 50% of these children remained in contact with their fathers.
In response to these statistics, the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage/Relationship Grants were created. These grants were first implemented in 2004. Like all new programs, it has taken several years for organizations to determine effective educational curricula to be used with the specific populations. In addition, recruitment of participants, the hiring and training of an educational staff, identifying strategic locations for the trainings, and how to build wide community support needed time for planning and thoughtful consideration. Though the mission was clear to most grantee organizations, they encountered these time-consuming challenges as they moved forward in the implementation phase of the project. This resulted in initial poor outcomes for many organizations. However, with lessons learned these same organizations learned what was needed to succeed and rapidly moved forward.
It appears that the curriculum for these programs needs to be improved. Most of the curricula in Relationship Education and Fatherhood programs are ten to twenty years old. In Relationship/Marriage Education programs the emphasis has been on social skills development: couple’s communication skills and conflict management, problem solving skills. The original idea of this effort is inspired. Some people do improve their relationships through relationship skills development. However, others require additional skills of personal self-management.
Recent studies in neuroscience, toxic stress, and relationship theory offer valuable guidance as a methodology to improve the programs effectiveness. More information is now available regarding the formation of stable functioning relationships, as well as ideas regarding breaking the intergenerational cycle of abuse.
The Administration of Children and Families is currently providing webinars on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and toxic stress. Now, programs addressing these vital issues of relationship stability and functionality must be developed. We now know that children of trauma and adversity undergo specific neurological changes in brain development. The adverse experience is literally built in the child’s neuronal structure. These children experience social, emotional and cognitive impairments that last into adulthood. In a brief summary of the effects on the brain, trauma increases the size and activity in the amygdala, the flight-fight center of the brain, and decreases the activity in the cerebral cortex, the thinking decision making part of the brain. When the flight-fight centers of the brain are stimulated, survival becomes the issue rather than learning the necessary skills to become an effective member of society. For children and adults, these are coping strategies are designed for survival. In the long run, they lead to adoption of health risk behaviors: drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, over eating, gambling, promiscuity, etc. Eventually, these behaviors result in disease, disability, and social problems and finally an early death. All of this is at a tremendous cost to tax payers and our society.
How prevalent are Adverse Childhood Experiences? In a San Diego Kaiser study with 17,000 patients they found that almost two-thirds of participants reported at least one ACE incident, and more than one in five reported three or more ACE’s. (Felitti, 1989)The study further found that 1 in 6 men experienced trauma, 1 in 5 Americans sexually molested, 1 in 4 beaten by a parent, 1 in 3 couples engages in physical violence. 25% of children grow up with alcoholic relatives. 1 in 8 witnessed their mother being beaten or hit. 50% of Head Start children enter the program with 3 ACE’s. We predict that a majority of participants in our Responsible Fatherhood and Marriage/Relationship programs experience 5 or more ACE’s. These experiences change how our participants interact with their partner, children and employer. They also change how they perceive the world and what they believe about themselves. Ultimately, trauma changes belief of personal invulnerability, perception the world is meaningful and comprehensible, and ability to perceive ourselves in a positive light.
Future programs must address the influence of adverse childhood experiences on adult coupling and parenting as part of Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage/Relationship grants.
During this same time period, couples and family systems theory have undergone changes. For example, couples therapy has been the least effective of all therapies and had one of the highest levels of relapse. (Gottman, 1990) The current curricula are based on the very same theories that were used for couple’s therapy. Our families need more than communication skills. The most effective of these new theories recognize the effects of early childhood trauma and problems with attachment. They take into account how early experiences affect current relationships and their children. Some of the leaders in the field whose work incorporates these new theories include: Dan Siegal, Sue Johnson, Stan Tatkin, John and Julie Gottman, Harville Hendrix, Helen Hunt-Hendrix, Ellen Bader, Peter Pearson.
Research indicates that we are following the correct path in creating healthy families to break the problems of intergenerational trauma. In a British study, it was found that safe, stable, nurturing relationships break the intergenerational cycle of abuse. In this study, parents who broke the cycle of violence experienced open communication and trust with their partner to break the cycle of violence. (Conger, et.al. 2013; Thornberry, 2013) Other studies find that parents who have a coherent understanding of the narrative of their past are more likely to parent differently than their parent. In breaking the cycle of violence, the need for this work is particularly evident with the children with parents in prison. Boys whose father is in prison are our most at risk youth. Those men in prison need to have an understanding of their own trauma and how to avoid passing these problems to the next generation. To reach this level of success our curricula need to include trauma informed care with the inclusion of skills to overcome adverse childhood experiences.
We are suggesting that the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage/Relationship programs address these problems of toxic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences. We recommend altering these programs to include trauma informed care and/or trauma healing activities. Successful programs include training all staff and participants to: 1. Acknowledge the high prevalence of trauma 2. Understand the effect of trauma on the brain, especially early childhood trauma. 3. Recognize signs and symptoms of trauma in staff, clients, and others 4. Recognize and utilize the many paths for healing with trauma informed, evidenced based and emerging best practices. 5. Organizations must fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices and settings. 6. Recognize individual differences and that no one method works with all people. We can make these changes today, because there are now many evidence based practices available that do not require a licensed therapist to teach participants to heal from their past traumatic experiences.
In order to create the change necessary to build stable, functioning families we need to grow our participants’ brains. The good news is that research indicates that brains can grow by learning to reduce the reactivity of the amygdala and to increase the use of the cerebral cortex. As our participants come to understand themselves they will have greater compassion for themselves and others. They will be less reactive and more thoughtful and capable of planning. In a meta-analysis of 54 trauma studies, they found specific interventions which matched the symptoms persons who had experienced trauma we shown to be effective. These interventions included emotion regulation strategies, narration of trauma memory, cognitive restructuring, anxiety and stress management, and interpersonal skills. Meditation and mindfulness interventions were frequently identified as an effective approach for emotional, attentional, and behavioral (e.g., aggression) disturbances. These methods increase cognitive functioning and reduce reactivity and anxiety.
Another focal point of Responsible Fatherhood and Marriage/Relationship grants was improving employment. By attending to the problems stemming from Adverse Childhood Experiences can improve employability. People who experienced multiple traumas may experience high anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or disassociate. All of these behaviors are problematic in obtaining and sustaining employment. People with large number of Adverse Childhood Experiences have difficulty with time management, emotional control, organization and planning. They lack confidence in their abilities. When anxiety levels are high, learning, being interviewed for a job and attending school becomes exceptionally difficult. Adding a trauma focused component to Responsible Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage/Relationship activities would assisting in the formation of the basic abilities that people need to go to school, learn new job and retain their employment paving their way to improved employment possibilities.
Therefore we propose that:
- We address the toxic stress levels in our participants in the Fatherhood, Marriage/Relationship grants.
- We develop a panel comprised of experts in the marriage/relationship and fatherhood grantee programs, toxic stress and trauma, and couples and family systems theory to create a list of possible additions and interventions to current curricula.
- Require all staff to have a minimal level of training in trauma informed care.
- Allow people to repeat a class who are having problem with relapse.
- Play care workers receive training in trauma informed care and given training in specific methods to deal with children with intense emotions.
- Require programs to be at least 20 hours long and have no more than 30 people in a class with a ratio of 1 staff to 12 participant ratio to insure the depth of the work.
By Carolyn Rich Curtis, Ph.D.,