Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A look ahead at 2010

I received a calendar this year for Christmas, and while the last days of the 2009 linger I am already planning ahead for grant opportunities in the coming new year.

What federal funds can we expect? Well, we know all the funding outlined in the farm bill will cover another round of the Specialty Crop Block Grant. That is a great program that specifically targets the fruit and vegetable commodities. Also the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program will be out in the spring and give markets a chance to apply directly to USDA for funding.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is now open year round for all your bio-energy and energy efficiency needs. I anticipate more funding this coming year for biomass and solar as well.

For the folks in conservation there should be another round of Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education (SARE). As well as the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) through NRCS which is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development of innovative conservation technologies; funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations.

May 2010 bring you many new resources, opportunities and….. grants!!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thinking Outside the "Grant" Box

One piece of advice I always give to groups who are starting to search for grants is that sometimes you have to think outside the box. There may not always be a grant out there that is a perfect fit and meets all the needs of your group. In those cases you have to be open to start looking for workarounds.

One example is when there is a grant to do the project you have in mind but only schools are eligible applicants. Ask to partner with the school on the project and offer to use your groups assets and resources to enhance the outcomes of the project. (See my blog post from two weeks ago on the value in establishing partnerships for more benefits.) Granted the school will have to be the applicant and will receive the funding but, your project will get accomplished. This scenario can be replicated with; businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.

Next, lets say your group wants to do Project A, but can’t find a grant. However, there is a grant that funds a project (will call this one Project B) that you are already doing and is currently funded. Why not go ahead and apply for the grant for Project B and use the funds that you had for B to now accomplish A.

Finally, let’s say you found a grant but it requires a match (cost share) and your group does not have the cash on hand to meet this requirement. Sometimes you can use in-kind contributions to meet your match. The dollar amount of people’s time, office equipment, supplies and various other resources can be applied to your matching requirements.

As long as you are willing to be flexible and creative you can make grants work for your group.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Plug for ISDA’s Biofuels Grant Program

This week I wanted to give a shout out to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) Biofuels Grant Program. This program is a way to increase the access to, and usage of, biofuels by Hoosier consumers and therefore move Indiana’s economy forward. E85 is an 85 percent ethanol fuel blended with 15 percent petroleum fuel.

This program awards funds (up to $20,000) for the installation of E85 refueling infrastructure at public refueling stations. The equipment purchased and installed for an E85 refueling station should be compatible with E85. Commercial refueling facilities or local units (defined as: cities, towns, counties, or townships) are eligible to apply. Those who own or operate multiple locations are allowed to apply for more than one location; however, each location needs to be on its own application and each will be scored separately.

Costs that are eligible under this grant program include: biofuels equipment, installation and site preparation for biofuels pumps only, and signage. Under the equipment category, only tank, pump, canopy and lighting expenses directly related to the dispensing of biofuels will be considered eligible costs. Eligible projects must apply commercially available technologies. Biofuels grants will not be awarded to fund research projects.

This grant has an open application period and more information about this grant along with an application can be found on ISDA’s website at:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Foundation Funding Focusing on Youth and the Environment

This week I have two random foundations that have funding available for young people (ages 5-25) trying to address issues in their local communities that focus on environmental sustainability through a service oriented type of project. These types of foundation funding are ideal for the local 4-H, FFA and Young Farmers groups to take advantage of. The applications are relatively simple to fill out, and the funding on the two I have identified ranges from $500 to $25,000 which could address both small and large projects. Think of a project your group could do in your community and apply. It’s that simple.

Starbucks Foundation-Young Social Entrepreneurs
No due date, funds range from $10,000-25,000.
More information can be found at:

Youth Service America-Global Grants Program for Young Volunteers
Due: February 22, 2010. Grants are $500 each.
More information can be found at:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Value in Establishing Partnerships

I’m going to cover two topics this week. Firstly, to inform you of funding the EPA has available to address the Great Lakes ecosystem through their Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. While restoring the Great Lakes has become a priority at the national level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $120 million in grants available to State pollution control agencies, interstate agencies, colleges, universities, and other public or non-profit private agencies, institutions, and organizations. Please note individuals and “for-profit” organizations are not eligible. Applications are due January 29, 2010 and more information can be found at Funding is to be used to address five major focus areas: 1. Toxic substances and areas of concern. 2. Invasive Species. 3. Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution, including watersheds and reducing polluted runoff from urban, suburban and, agricultural sources. 4. Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration 5. Accountability, Education, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication and Partnerships.

The last word of the previous paragraph brings me to my second topic; partnerships. While this size of a project may be a bit large for a small organization to take on, it is important to remember the effectiveness of partnerships in a grant application. Many successful grant applications mention various groups they will work with to ensure their proposed projects success. Any time you can tap into more resources, staff time, expertise, technology and/or dollars you should. Use those assets to showcase the dynamics of the relationship and tie that back to the importance of achieving the end goal of your project. This will set your application apart from those with fewer resources. Partnerships demonstrate to a grant review committee that you have done a lot of homework in reaching out to others either in your area of location or area of interest. It gives the reviewers assurance that grant funds will be used on the actual project instead of using funds to gather the tools and information needed to start the process of working toward the project.

Granted one organization will have to take the lead and manage the grant, but the assistance of extra hands and additional resources should pay off in the end.

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