What's Inside A Winning FEMA Application?
The FEMA Grant Workshop held January 15, 2002 at the Ben Clark Training Center
in Riverside, California revealed interesting insights for successful FEMA grant
applications. You have heard, no doubt, that funding for this years FEMA grant
is $360 million! According to Brian Cowan, Chief of USFA National Fire
Programs, "FEMA expects to make approximately 4,000 grants this year."
will be made in four major program areas including:
- Fire Operations/Firefighter Safety
- Fire Prevention
- Emergency Medical Services
This year you will only be able to request funding from one of the four program
areas with a single application. Each of the four program areas listed above
allow you to apply for everything relevant to your needs for that program. For
example, you could apply for a fire prevention program that would include
presentation equipment (lap-top computer, data projector, speakers, and digital
camera) along with paying for an instructor to teach you how to use the
equipment. Your request could also include handout materials, say from NFPA
one of those nifty robotic fire hydrants or fire engines for classroom
If you include information that would allow neighboring jurisdictions access
these materials or if you show a that private funding source is going to cover
your matching costs, then you've just improved your chances for funding by
demonstrating a positive cost/benefit of FEMA money!
The rules for this years program will be published in the Federal Register
month. But that doesn't mean you have to wait around before you begin to build
your application. The FEMA Grant Workshops reveal what they consider award
1. Be sure you read the application directions and fill-out the application
The on-line application will be designed so that you can work on it-- then save
your work to complete later. The on-line application will not accept incomplete
applications. Last year the USFA bent over backwards to help departments
complete their applications. Do not expect the same curtsy this year! This
year, the slightest omission from a hard copy application could be technical
grounds for dismissing your grant request before any one has had a chance to
2. Be sure that your crequest is compatible to grant program!
Priorities for vehicle funding is the same this year as it was last year;
pumpers, wildland engines, and water tankers. Sure you need a new rescue
vehicle but that is low on the list of priorities for this years program and
probably won't get funded. Be sure that your request is a good match to the
3. Include a community risk assessment!
Show the grant reviewers that you've done a little homework. Use available
data and statistics to show a five year trend in population growth, development,
loss of revenue, who in your community is at risk for injury or death, any
special hazards, the types of incidents your department typically responds to
and how many times it does! You can also include interviews and polls of local
4. What is your departments capabilities?
Do you have the tools and training to do your job well and safely? What are
the deficiencies in your department? What is the most cost effective method
deal with these deficiencies? Why did you pick this method over any other
method? Be sure to identify your department's goals by demonstrating how you
will overcome the deficiency!
5. Describe the cost/benefit for funding your program!
Your application should demonstrate your willingness to share your resources
with other communities, agencies and departments. Use funding from other
agencies, corporations, or individuals to demonstrate public/ private
partnerships. These outside funds can be used to meet your matching
requirements for the grant. Or, you could describe grassroots support for your
application by teaming-up with others in your community- demonstrating that
request will be well leveraged. An example would be teaming-up with Hispanic
organizations to assist in the development and/or delivery of a Hispanic fire
These suggestions are just the tip of the FEMA funding iceberg. But the USFA
considers each of these items important to the success of last years grant
awards. Review the successful FEMA narratives on the Dragonfly web-site and
identify where these five items appear in each request for funding. The
successful applications will reveal one or more of the items from the list
above. When you review these successful narratives imagine how you could have
made the application even better by using some of these insights. You should
have no doubt that this years round of FEMA funding is going to be fiercely
competitive. So don't wait to get started on building the most persuasive case
for your grant request.
Keep your eye on up-coming Dragonfly newsletters. I will reveal more successful
insights as the grant deadline gets closer!
About the Author: Rodney Slaughter is President of Dragonfly
Communications Network. Rodney has provided grant training to emergency service
organizations for 10 years and offers free grant resources on his web-site Rodney’s
grant writing success rate is holding steady at 85%. He has secured over $2 million
in grants and interagency agreements for the California State Fire Marshal’s
Office. Rodney is currently working on successfully funded grant programs of his
own. Dragonfly Communications Network is a training consulting firm and does not
offer grant writing services outside of his own popular grant training program,
but does provide free advice and guidance.