Insight Grants

A Short Break

The bad news is I have to take a break from posting to the blog. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to our readers, but the good news is I’m taking the break because Insight will be launching a new main website soon and the blog will become part of that site. The new site is currently under development and already looking great. I will continue to post information on Twitter (insightgrantspe, insightgrantsed, and rosaliecrandall) and will be sure to Tweet when the new site is ready. I believe it will have the same address as our existing site (, so feel free to check for it yourselves, too. If you prefer email and would like to be notified that way when the new site is available and I am posting to the blog again, please send an email with your request to Thanks! The break should only be a few weeks long, but I know you have many other demands on your time. Don’t forget about us!! ;o) We’ll be back soon.

What Do You Want to Know About Grants?

It may surprise you to learn that I read Chris Brogan’s social media blog ( pretty regularly these days. My attempts at implementing his ideas may not always be evident, but I’m a regular reader and ponderer nonetheless. ;o) Chris knows his stuff!!

Yesterday, Chris wrote a post about designing websites, other tools, and the way services and tools are used around the customer. Blog readers are not necessarily customers, but I’m thinking this idea is still really applicable.

So, with that in mind, what do YOU want to see on this blog? What questions do you have about grants? What topics do you want to read about? What types of posts have you seen on here so far that you liked or didn’t like? Our main focus will still be grants as they relate to PE, physical activity, obesity issues, health and safety, but within that broad scope, please provide me with some ideas about how I can make this blog more useful to you. I’ve got a list of topics to cover and some partially drafted posts waiting in the wings, and I also try to address “popular” issues as they come up via phone or email, but I’d really like more feedback from readers. So please fire away!

PEP Update: When Will We Find Out Who Won?

Most 2009 PEP applicants are now anxiously wondering when the awards announcement will be made. Several folks have emailed in the last couple of weeks asking whether I know of schools who have learned their results yet. No, I do not know of any schools that have received their results yet, but yes, I do have some idea of when the information should be available.

About a week and a half ago I emailed the federal program contact to check to see if the originally anticipated timetable for awards (originally discussed in the RFP as June or July) was still the anticipated timetable. She confirmed that ED expected to make awards “late June/early July.” As today is June 22, awards could be made any time between now and the next month. Exciting stuff, right? :o)

Many folks are also asking how they would find out their results. There are a few different ways that could happen.

Prior to announcing any grant awards, ED provides Congress with the list and allows the members a brief period (anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks) to be the first to notify and congratulate any winners within their constituency. Many members take advantage of this opportunity, but others do not. If your Representative or Senator is among those who enjoys making the announcement, you might hear from him or her directly (probably via phone or possibly fax) and/or you might see a press release from his or her office in a local paper. Remember, though, not all members do this, so not hearing from a member does not necessarily mean your application was not a winner.

ED will make its public announcement via a 2009 awards list of winning schools and their contacts at and/or via a press release posted at Additionally, ED will send out letters with instructions for “next steps” to winners via mail. While these packages are technically supposed to be sent prior to the public announcement being made, winners rarely receive them before learning they won through either their Congressional members or ED’s public announcement.

Following mail notification of all winners, ED will send out mail notifications to all non-winners that include reviewer scores and comments. (You should have THREE sets of reviewer scores and comments!) With so many people to notify, sometimes it takes weeks or even months for the non-winner packages to arrive. If it’s been a couple of months and you haven’t received anything, though, you should email the PEP contact ( and request that your scores and comments be resent since several do seem to get lost in the mail every year. If you weren’t fortunate enough to win in 2009, use your reviewer scores and comments to improve your application in 2010. Please note, however, that you will still need to adhere to the newest RFP and that your application will NOT be read by the same reviewers.

Insight monitors many press release channels for PEP daily, and we frequently check both the PEP and ED Press Release sites, so we often know very soon after the winners list is posted. Additionally, using press releases from Congress and information from Congressionally-notified schools with which we are in contact, we begin compiling a “tentative” winners list of our own and then compare that to the final list. We’ve been able to learn of as many as a third of the winners prior to the official announcement this way, however only the official list will concretely name all winners. Insight will send out emails to all applicants that worked with us on PEP once the official announcement is made, as well as sending out tweets from our Twitter accounts (insightgrantspe and insightgrantsed). Certainly, if you have questions in the interim, let us know. If you didn’t work with us but would like to receive an email when the PEP awards list comes out, leave your email address under comments or email us at (If you send an email, please be sure to note that you are requesting a PEP awards notice email and provide your full contact info.)

Sunflower Trails Grants

If you live in Kansas and have been looking for funding for a new or existing walking trail, you’ll want to be aware of the Sunflower Foundation’s Sunflower Trails Grants ( The Foundation’s aim is to “serve as a catalyst for improving health in Kansas.” To that end, the Foundation offers the Sunflower Trails Grants annually most years to provide Kansas communities with increased opportunities for physical activity. Applications are now open and are due September 10, 2009. Awards are anticipated by October 31, 2009.

Grants may be for up to $25,000, but within that amount there are limits on how the money can be spent: up to $15,000 for building materials, up to $5,000 for enhancements such as security items and signage, and up to $5,000 for tree-scaping. (Note that the $5,000 for tree-scaping can only be used for trees. General landscaping is not covered.)

Applicants are required to have a cash match of $1 for every $1 received from the foundation. Operating, overhead, and staff costs may not be funded with matching dollars. If you are in the process of seeking matching funds for a larger trail project to be funded by the state or federal government, the Foundation requests you contact them to discuss your situation prior to applying.

501(c)(3) organizations or state or local government organizations (such as schools) are eligible to apply provided they can meet the matching requirement and do not already have active Sunflower Trails Grants. Organizations that have not received Sunflower Trails Grants in the past will receive preference in the selection process.

Requirements for funded trails are as follows:
· Trails are generally expected to be at least ¼ mile in length.
· The width of the trail will depend on the scope of the project, though a minimum of 5’– 6’ is expected, with 8’– 10’ preferred.
· Public access to the walking trail is required.
· Trails must be more than sidewalks.

The application is fairly straightforward but does require a detailed plan for your trail, evidence of all matching funds, and quite a bit of supporting documentation such as organization financials, evidence of land ownership, and copies of bids for the work and materials. Hence, while the deadline seems like it’s far off, now is definitely the time to begin working on developing your project plan, securing matching funds, and gathering documentation. Good luck!

If you’ve had experience with this grant or funder in the past, or if you choose to apply this year, let us know about your experience.

Where to Find Grants: Part 4: RFP Bulletin

Go to and click on the word “Newsletters” toward the end of the first paragraph. Then use the online form to sign up for the RFP Bulletin and any other free newsletters of interest to you.

Philanthropy News Digest’s (PND) RFP Bulletin is sent out via email every Friday afternoon. It typically contains 10-20 of the most recently-released, well-publicized, privately-funded grant opportunities. It has recently been revised and is now presented by topic area for more convenient browsing. This is a tremendous resource offered at zero cost by The Foundation Center—the major leader in the world of private grants information. Of course, the newsletter contains links for more information in addition to a title line (caution: the exact grant program title is not always contained here), brief summary, and posted and deadline dates.

As with the CHHCS and Grant Wrangler alerts, the RFP Bulletin provides you with an excellent means for staying abreast of some of the more widely known grant opportunities as they become available. Quick note, though, the RFP Bulletin will provide you with grants from a wide range of topic areas. Hence, some weeks you may find several physical activity or health-related gems, but other weeks there may be none at all.

If you’d prefer not to submit your email address, the RFP Bulletin is also accessible online at I would encourage you to take some time to explore because The Foundation Center offers a very wide range of services—some free, some fee-based.

The Foundation Directory Online ( is the largest database of private (that’s foundation and corporate) funders, with information on more than 98,000 funders. It is a fee-based service, though. Unfortunately, the cheapest levels, which limit access to just the 10,000 largest donors in the nation, do not tend to drill down enough to meet the needs of most schools or smaller local organizations. Those organizations often require the more costly, higher-level subscriptions in order to access a broader listing of funders, but then the cost may become unaffordable depending on the organization’s budget. If you have the funds to subscribe, AND staff members willing and able to use the subscription regularly, however, it is a tremendously rich database.

Training is among the other services and products The Foundation Center offers. While there are a range of fee-based options, the Center also offers a FREE Proposal Writing Short Course which you can access here: The content is aimed at writing strong private funder proposals. It’s important to note that while there are often major similarities between the way private and government grant proposals are written, there are also significant differences. Hence, not all of the information in the course may be transferrable to government proposals, and some key elements needed for writing government proposals may not be included. That being said, The Foundation Center is both highly and widely regarded for its expertise in the private funding arena, and I am certain this course is worth you time if you’re looking for some writing tips.

If you’ve had experience with The Foundation Center and/or used its resources in the past, please share under Comments! Your insight is very valuable to us! :o)

Where to Find Grants: Part 3—HHCS Listserv

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools ( provides a significant amount of resources related to schools and health including but not limited to research publications, news, and a grants database.

The best feature of the grants database is probably that it is separated into two major categories: Active and Expired Grants. Active grants are grants that are currently open. Expired grants are opportunities for which the deadline has past. Aside from that, the database is useful but not outstanding. It is relatively small, but the database managers make a sincere effort to stay “on topic,” which is very useful and saves time if indeed the opportunity you need falls within the “schools and health” topical area. The summaries are brief, which allows for quick review. The deadlines and links to funder sites are also provided.

The most valuable grants information service CHHCS offers, however, is its FREE twice-weekly grant alert emails. I highly recommend readers of this blog sign up for this service. While the days occasionally change, presently the alerts are coming out on Mondays and Fridays. They typically include one to four names of grant opportunities with a concise summary (one to two sentences) of the grant opportunity’s purpose. Each title in the alert is hyperlinked to the associated CHHCS database entry, so recipients can easily click for a slightly more detailed summary. If at that point interest or need warrants further research, the reader can click on a link within the database entry to the grant program’s official website.

The service is not always inclusive of all opportunities out there, but it does include quite a few. Also, folks may aid in making it more complete by visiting the database site ( and using the form on the right-hand side to submit information on grant opportunities.

While the other free services we’ve looked at to this point provide great places to actively research grants in a more proactive, planning-aimed manner, this service allows for passive and/or ongoing grant research. Subscribing to CHHCS’s Grant Alerts (also known as the HHCS Listserv) will provide you with a means for keeping abreast of grants that are active WHILE they are active so that you can quickly jump on them and apply. The Grant Wrangler bi-weekly newsletter provides some amount of this, as well, but its less frequent nature and broader topical scope mean the CHHCS Grant Alerts are a bit more timely and pertinent for folks looking for physical activity, PE, and health grant opportunities

Visit to sign up for this terrific resource. Let us know your thoughts on the alerts, database, or other resources offered by CHHCS, too!

Where to Find Grants: Part 2—Grant Wrangler

Grant Wrangler ( is a great site to frequent if you are looking for funding to be used for a school-based program, because the site is aimed at providing information on grants for K-12 schools in a user-friendly format.

This database is relatively new—initiated in 2006 or 2007. It’s come a long way in a short time, though, and provides a very nice listing of grants for many topics of interest to schools, including a more recently added categorical search for “Health and Physical Education (PE).” The categories by which you can search are fairly unique and do not adhere to the standard federal topic areas used by most databases. The upside to this is significantly greater flexibility for searches. The categories include academic topic areas, expiration month (deadline month), school level (such as Middle School), and many other topics, as well, like “Professional Development” and even “Home School.” You can also do a key word search or a calendar-based search. The entries found in response to your search will be summarized in two to four lines with links to more information. The links take you to summaries that include the grant program name, deadline, funding source/funder, program website link, and brief program overview.

The grant summaries on this site provide less information than is provided by some other databases, but the information is of fairly good quality, and the succinct format allows for faster “skimming” for the grants that seem best suited to the applicant’s needs. For an experienced grant researcher familiar with most programs out there, this is a handy time-saver because the researcher is typically just looking for a “reminder” of what’s out there and can easily dig deeper for information on the grants that are most ideal. For an individual new to grants research, the short format used on this site is less overwhelming than more extensive summaries may be. Since the program website link is also provided, the researcher can easily click for more details on any grant of interest.

Grant Wrangler has a few other handy tools, as well. For example, the grant summaries also include “Discuss this Grant” links that allow you to participate in an online discussion on the grant topic area. The discussion links will take you to an area where you have an additional top tool bar that allows access to a wealth of other resources, including blogs, a member community, and links to videos and other sites. Grant Wrangler also sends out a bi-weekly email bulletin highlighting a handful of key time-relevant opportunities. You can sign up for this right on the site by clicking on the “Subscribe bulletin” link on the left side tool bar on the Grant Wrangler homepage or any of the summary pages.

As with the RAC database, Grant Wrangler is entirely FREE. If you haven’t already guessed, our focus for this series on where to find grants information is free resources! :o) There are several more resources on our list, but we welcome your comments and notes about your favorite places to find grant information at no cost.

Where to Find Grants: Part 1—RAC Database

Folks often ask where to look for grants and wonder if they should pay for subscriptions to database services. My typical answer is that it is neither necessary nor cost effective for most organizations to pay for grants database subscriptions because so much of the information is available online for free. Insight has elected not to create its own grants database for the same reason. Doing so would really only mean increasing our immediate and ongoing overhead costs essentially for a reinvented wheel.

Here is a link to one of my favorite databases—the Rural Assistance Center’s grant database: Theoretically, this is a database aimed at providing grants information for rural organizations, but the reality is rural organizations are eligible for many, many grants beyond just those specifically aimed at rural organizations, so this database contains quite a wealth of information on a wide range of grants. It is entirely free and the information is as good as, and in many cases better than, most of the subscription-based grants databases I have seen. I’ve yet to see a grants database that is completely comprehensive and 100% accurate at all times, but this one is more reliable than most and does include both government and private grants information. Additionally, it is more easily and accurately searchable than most subscription-based databases.


The Impact of the Economy on Grants: Part 1—Cancellations

In previous years, cancellation of an announced grant competition was rare. Not so anymore. As the economy has continued to sink in the last year, cancellations have begun to surface. While they still certainly aren’t common, they’ve strayed far from unheard of.

Here are a few examples we’ve come across in our work in the last year. South Carolina Department of Health’s Prevention Partnerships Grant, designed to leverage community partnerships for health prevention efforts (including obesity and obesity-related chronic disease prevention and reduction) was cancelled just a few days prior to the deadline. The reason cited was that the money simply wasn’t there to make awards as expected due to the economic challenges facing the state. Goody’s Good Deeds for Schools, a grant created through a partnership between Goody’s Family Clothing stores and Ashley Judd, was cancelled at some point after the grant deadline had past, again due to an unexpected lack of funds. It seems now, unfortunately, this grant aimed at funding a wide range of needed school projects, has been ended permanently since the website ( is no longer active.

We’ve heard stories of other programs—both state and private—that have been unexpectedly cancelled after a competition announcement was made, as well. Since funding available for foundations is often linked directly to the profit margin of a corporation, many more foundations have continued to make awards but have been forced to make fewer than they’d like or than they’ve made in the past. These trends are almost certain to continue until the economy becomes stronger. That said, even though the risk of program cancellation and competition for grants that do move forward have increased, I do not advise shying away from applying for anything (and nearly everything) that feels like a strong fit for your organization’s needs, goals, and resources. You’ll never see a check if you don’t apply! :o) Plus, while cancellations have become more of an issue in the past year, they are still relatively rare. Most organizations know prior to RFP release that at least some funds will be available for grant awards, so your risk of investing time and effort into a grant competition that is ultimately cancelled is still reasonably low.

What has your experience been this year with this issue? Please share!!

VT Heart Rate Monitors Grant

It’s exciting to see states stepping up to the plate to encourage schools to improve physical education (PE) programs to increase student activity and decrease obesity! Especially considering the tough economy. Yesterday we discussed PA’s new program for middle schools. Today we look at the Vermont Department of Education’s 2009-2010 School Wellness Grant Application for Implementation of Heart Rate Monitors in High School Physical Education—fondly referred to (at least by me :o) ) as the VT HRMs grant.

This grant surfaced in 2007. Lindsay Simpson (802-828-1461 or at VT Department of Education is the program contact, and I can’t say enough good things about her. She is extremely committed to improving PE across the state and to this program in particular. My professional communications with her have revealed her to be a very helpful, responsive contact who is ready and willing to support PE programs in her state in any way that she can. This year’s late May application release is just one more example of her ongoing efforts to make VT schools successful. While the program has historically had a pretty short application period (just a few weeks to a month), this year schools have been given several months to prepare their applications: the deadline is September 18, 2009.

Any Vermont public school serving grades 9-12 may apply for this grant, provided the school has not already won this grant and/or has not already won a Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. Three applicants will be selected to receive awards of up to $9,000 for the purchase and implementation of Polar heart rate monitors ( to ensure objective assessment of time spent physical active in PE. Awardees will be notified by October 9, 2009. (I love the quick turn-around this program provides! It’s a rare treat to know the results of your grant efforts so soon after submission.) All project activities, expenditures, and required reporting must be completed by June 30, 2010.

As found on page 2 of the RFP, the goals of this program are to:

  • Document and increase the amount of time high school students spend engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during physical education.
  • Develop student self-knowledge, personal goal setting and fitness planning skills for lifetime physical activity.
  • Develop students’ 21st century skills of tracking, interpreting and evaluating personal physical activity effort with objective, technological measures.

The RFP is clearly written and easy to respond to, but you will need time to gather information and form the required project committee (see page 4 of the RFP), if you do not already have one in place. The committee verification DOES require signatures from ALL members—in addition to your administrator—to evidence commitment and support for the project. Hence, I recommend taking full advantage of the additional time the Department of Education has allowed for this year.

What additional thoughts or questions do you have? Good luck to all applicants! Be sure to let us know via comments on this blog or if you win an award!

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Insight Grants