Public Safety Grant News and Tips by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant
During the past 10 years that I have been teaching grant writing across the country, I am consistently asked “Where do I go to find out all the information and statistics that you are saying needs to be included in my grant applications?” Here’s my answer.
This answer used to be a long, long list of various websites along with instructions on how to find the data that you needed. Over the last couple of years though, the Internet has provided a single resource for finding about 80-90% of the information and statistical data that you would need for most grant applications being filed by public safety agencies. That resource is called City-Data.com.
This edition of the Fund Finder will give you an idea of how to use this valuable research tool to assist you in finding some of the critical data that you will need for your grant applications. Follow along here as I explain the mounds of data to be discovered and exploited to your advantage on just this one site.
An Intro to City-Data.com
Are you trying to find information regarding your city, town, township, village or county? All you have to do to access this site is to simply go to a Google search bar and type in the name of your city or county, state, and >City-Data.com (e.g., Lakeland, FL city-data.com). Look in the Google returns until you see something like this:
Once you are on that page you will scroll down below the couple of photos that will appear your area. You will start to see the statistical data and information on your screen like in the screen shot below.
Explain Your Community and Establish Financial Need
In this area there is a myriad of statistical data that can be used in your application to help explain your community, assist in developing your financial need statement, etc. such as:
Population of the area from 2012 US Census. You will need this in describing your community and how many people you serve. It is also needed to calculate the cost benefit of your project.
Estimated median household income and how it compares to the state average. This is a demographic that needs to be quoted in your financial need statement.
Median value for the average home or condo. In the financial needs section you need to be showing where your income revenue is coming from. If your income is derived from property taxes then it would be wise to show what the average value of a house is so they can see how much property value is being taxed.
Per capita income. Once again a key demographic to show how “poor” your residents are. Be sure to look up the average per capita income for your state or the US figure for comparison.
Median gross rent being paid by your residents. This is also useful demographic financial data which depicts how much money the average citizen is paying out of their paychecks a month to afford housing in your area.
Population and Geography
If you continue to scroll down you will see the following data and information being displayed:
A map showing the boundaries of the town, city or county. Useful if you truly do not understand exactly where your jurisdictional boundaries are.
The cost of living index for the area against the US Average. Good information for financial need section.
The total land area in sq. miles. You need this when you describe the size and type of area you cover.
The population density per sq. mile. Essential in describing how many people are concentrated or spread out across your area.
A chart showing the home sales for 5 or 6 past years. Good for financial need section showing if growth is occurring or declining in your area.
Median real estate property taxes being paid. Gives a reviewer reading your financial need section an idea of how much tax revenue you have access to for income.
Geographic reference to larger well known cities. Geography is the #1 subject now failed by high school graduates. It is important to geographically orient your reviewer to exactly where you are located. Most reviewers will not even be from the state that you are in so it is important to give an accurate depiction of exactly where you are.
Single-family new house construction permits for last 10-15 years. Is your area growing in size and outpacing the ability of the department to keep up with that growth? This is a good way to show that in your financial need section.
Daytime population change due to commuting. Are you a bedroom community that is empty during the day or do you double your population in the daytime hours from schools and workers coming to your area.
Employment Statistics and Natural Disasters
Continue scrolling down and you will find the following information:
Current unemployment rates locally and for your state for comparison. Important financial need demographics. Unemployed people cannot donate to you and frequently they don’t pay their property taxes.
Most common occupations and industries charts. What drives your economy? These two charts should give you an indication to be able to state what the primary economic factors are in your area.
Tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Is the equipment that you are asking for going to have a bearing on disaster recovery or response? This would give a reviewer a good indication of the frequency and historical probabilities that you are going to need such equipment for a response.
Medical, Transportation, and Education Facilities
Hospitals/Medical centers. Hospitals are critical infrastructure so it is important to list the medical surge capacity available in your area.
Airports, heliports with pertinent information. Airports can also be considered critical infrastructure so this needs to be listed if it is moving commercial passenger or freight traffic through them or if they have military ops going on there.
AMTRAK location. Finding a listing for this should trigger that you need to find out how many miles of rail lines that you have and how many passengers and freight cars are moving across that line daily or annually. Needing to be prepared for a train derailment is a big issue and rial lines are critical infrastructure.
Educational institutions with student enrollments. This is an indicator of how many citizens you are covering at any one time and colleges and universities frequently do government sponsored research with radioactive materials and or other information critical to national defense. It could be a justification for the need for CBRNE related equipment.
Adult obesity rates and diabetes rates. If you were an EMS agency trying to justify a bariatric ambulance or hydraulic operated cots, this figure is a critical piece of information for you.
Media and Communications Infrastructure
Local radio and TV stations. Commercial radio and TV antennas located in your area, are critical infrastructure as this is typically how most emergency broadcast message would be sent.
National Bridge Inventory. Major bridges over water which if they collapsed would cause catastrophic loss of life or disruption of public safety services and economic commerce are critical infrastructure and should be listed.
FCC registered radio communication antennae. Many communication antennas (not cell phone towers) but microwave transmission, maritime or aviation navigational antennas and public utility or public safety antennas are critical infrastructure also and should be listed.
A Better Way to Build a Comprehensive Picture of Your Community and Needs
As you can see this reference resource can be extremely valuable and save you huge amounts of time when trying to research information you need to supply in a grant application to DHS or many State type grant programs.
The difference between this site and Wikipedia is that Wikipedia is “user contributor” driven. In other words, anyone can post something into Wikipedia and it is not independently verified. On the contrary, >City-Data.com gathers its data through a web crawler that seeks the data from official federal, state and local government websites. The reliability factor is much, much higher here on this site, and I have every confidence in using it for my clients.
Use of this resource can make your quest for this type of data much easier. It can also add extra points to your grant application, in allowing you to take credit for what you protect or have responsibilities for.
Remember: most failed grant applications present a black-and-white photo, when an 8×10 color glossy is what they need to succeed.
City-Data.com provides you vital data to put together a big, glossy picture of your community and situation. Draw heavily on this resource to include data to back up your case for financial need, and you will build a much stronger, more competitive grant application.