For the first time in a near century, communities have access to more funding mechanisms than ever before to improve emergency preparedness, response, and resiliency. It is quite a unique opportunity for unprecedented times. Whether from a federal, state, or private entity, grants are providing critical opportunities for our communities. And, in seeing the first final draft of the federal omnibus, grant programs and opportunities for addressing emergency management issues are not only here to stay, but rapidly expanding.
Rave Mobile Safety has dedicated resources to assist prospects and established customers in looking for funding opportunities to assist with purchasing Rave’s Critical Communication and Collaboration Solutions. In our experience, organizations, and governments, large and small, are looking for ways to access these opportunities, but two questions consistently come up: how do I get started and what can I do to have the best chance of getting funded?
Our newest Raver, Government Affairs Communications Specialist, Lauren Gonnelli, has extensive experience working with the federal grant process, helping dozens of communities garner millions of dollars to address the needs of first responders and critical community services. She brings this subject knowledge to Rave to bolster our efforts to further educate her fellow Ravers and our customers on best practices when engaging with the federal grant process. In her experience, she saw these fundamental questions come up over and over. In this post, we take her guidance and past grant-winning experience to address the three most common questions when starting the federal grants process:
- Where to start when applying for a grant?
- How does Rave fit into these programs?
- What best practices should an applicant to increase my chances of getting my project funded?
Chris Pavasaris, Rave’s Government Affairs Specialist, has spoken previously about how Rave customers have previously taken advantage of grant programs such as Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative and the DOJ’s COPS and STOP School Violence programs to enhance communication with public safety agencies and emergency services.
Accessing Grant Opportunities
Grants are everywhere in the federal government. There are dozens of agencies, and subagencies at that, that offer programs for communities across the country. However, this is exactly what is intimidating about the process to smaller communities – it is too much to process.
Here are Rave’s five steps on how to start submitting a grant application for a federal agency:
- To find grants, get guidance on applying for grants, see webinars on how to apply for federal grants of a specific Agency, your best first step to stay up to date is to subscribe to individual Agency email updates. These updates provide the first alert to the public about when a program will open for applications, host webinars to help applicants with their questions, and resources to better your application.
- As of April 4, 2022, organizations will not be asked to obtain a DUNS number as a part of any federal grant application process, therefore, start by activating an account for SAM.gov. During your registration, you will fill out forms to be assigned a Unique Entity Identifiers (UEI), which will act as your organization’s identification number. For more information on this process, see the General Service Administration’s (GSA) update. Please note, this process is FREE. Do not pay a website claiming you need to pay for a SAM account and/or UEI. Once the paperwork is submitted, it typically takes 3 weeks to get the confirmation email.
- Next, create a Grants.gov account. The confirmation for this will be faster than your SAM confirmation.
- If you are applying for a FEMA grant or a Department of Justice (DOJ) grant, you must also sign up for their grant management systems, FEMAGO and JustGrants, respectively.
- Once all your accounts are accounted for, you are ready to apply for a federal grant! When a grant opportunity opens, you can use your grants.gov account to fill out and submit the initial application. As soon as these documents are completed, for grants from FEMA or DOJ, you will be directed to the Agency grant portal to submit additional paperwork for your application.
Grants to Accelerate Emergency Responses
Rave’s former West Coast State and Local Account Executive, Kristin Ruth, was also a K-12 specialist. In a Rave webinar, she explains that one of the most commonly used capabilities of the platform is the Rave Panic Button because it accelerates emergency responses.
In the context of funding school safety initiatives via grant programs, one of Kristin’s most relevant points is that the Rave Panic Button app integrates with existing common alerting protocol-compatible school safety technology. Therefore, schools can apply for funding to strengthen school safety rather than replace it, which will increase the likelihood of an application being accepted.
Advice from a Grant Recipient
Jennifer Coronel – the Program Manager for Student Support at the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is responsible for implementing school safety initiatives in the San Diego school district, and last year she and Kristin worked together to successfully apply for a COPS school safety program grant.
Prompted by Kristin’s questions, Jennifer explains how the school district identified gaps in school safety, developed plans to increase threat awareness, and then created goals to improve relationships with local police forces, develop district-wide threat assessment protocols and staff training, and fill gaps in school safety technology that could support the protocols and training.
Because most school staff had their mobile phones with them at all times, Jennifer found that mobile panic button apps were the most effective way to meet her goals; and, after evaluating several solutions, she settled on the Rave Panic Button app due to its capability of enhancing non-emergency internal communication.
You can watch our Funding Your School Safety Initiatives in 2021 webinar on demand. However, as it is an on-demand recording of the webinar, you will not be able to participate in the closing Q and A section. Therefore, if you have any questions relating to funding school safety initiatives via grant programs, do not hesitate to get in touch and speak with one of our school safety teams.
For more questions about how Rave qualifies for grants, please contact us!