The gift: How does the Federal Government Shutdown affect the grant programs?

The Fund Finder News

by Kurt Bradley, Senior Grants Consultant

Our Federal government is now in the longest shutdown in our country’s history. Concerned departments nationwide have been calling me and asking the same question: “Is this government shutdown going to affect grants?”

No simple answer

I wish there was a simple answer to that question. Unfortunately there is not. I will, however tell you what to expect. The news here may be a little better than what you expected, as long as you look at it from the right perspective.

First, everyone needs to take a deep breath. Remember, this is not the first time the government has shut down. Nor will it be the last.

Shutdowns have happened before

Partisan politics aside, the government has endured several past shutdowns (or “spending gaps,” to more accurately label them). In fact, there have been 18 government shutdowns since 1976. Each one has lasted anywhere from several days to several weeks.

Key point: Not one shutdown has resulted in any incidents deemed catastrophic in nature.

I personally have been a taxpaying adult, either employed by the government directly (military service), or in local government, or the private sector. I can say that none of those shutdowns ever affected me significantly either professionally nor personally.

How the shutdown is affecting federal grants

So, what is the shutdown doing to affect the grant programs? Well, I can tell you that the staff at FEMA, in the offices that cover our primary grants, are operating on a skeleton staff. Historically, during these shutdowns, several things will be or are occurring:

  1. They are operating with a skeleton staff, so emails may not be answered, phone calls are probably not being returned, amendments may not be moving through approval/disapproval status, EHP reviews are on hold and, certainly, no new grant programs will open while the shutdown is in effect.
  2. Drawdowns of awarded money may be delayed.
  3. Previously stated opening dates for programs will be pushed back.
  4. Peer review panels for the 2018 AFG grants will be delayed (as of this writing the 2018 AFG peer review panel has been moved to Feb. 24, 2019).
  5. SF425 and semi-annual performance reports will continue to be due on their respective dates.

The gift you’ve been given

Now, as soon as the shutdown is resolved things will get back on track and return to business as usual. But the news is not all that bad here folks, if you take a different perspective.

You have been given the gift of time!

The one thing that you have the least amount of control over as a public safety employee is your time. This shutdown is affording you additional time to prepare for 2019 grants. Remember, if you fail to prepare, you can prepare to fail when it comes to grant applications.

What to do with this gift of time

The question is, though, what should you be doing with this gift of time?

You should be making use of this time to plan out your upcoming projects for 2019 and 2020. Here are a few ideas:

  • Do some better research on your critical infrastructure
  • Dig into your data deeper
  • Update your department and community description
  • Develop and send out those surveys you need to win a Fire Prevention and Safety grant
  • Find out exactly how much putting a new fireman on the payroll is going to cost
  • Try to figure out where additional money can be identified that could be used to offset SAFER money and give you a stronger sustainability plan
  • Dig in and figure out how many times you are or are not complying with NFPA1710-1720

You should also be thinking about getting yourself and your department properly trained to incorporate proper grant strategy into your overall financial planning. Pick a school and go find out what the other folks are learning so your applications win more often. Explore the possibilities available to you by consulting with a true public safety grant consulting firm. Doing so can truly make a difference in your overall outcomes.

This too shall pass

This government shutdown will be over before you know it. In the meantime, take advantage of the extra time that it is affording you: Use this gift of time to get ready for upcoming grants in 2019 and 2020.

First responders and public safety agencies, get ready for 2019 grants

Once summer gives way to fall, we all know how close we are to the holidays… and then to another new year. As we head into the final months of 2018 and look ahead to 2019, there is lots your department can be doing right now to prepare for next year’s grant opportunities.

Conduct a needs assessment

Proper planning involves a myriad of things, one of which is assuring that you have proper manpower and equipment to carry out your basic mission for your citizens. A needs assessment gives you the facts you need to know about how well prepared your department is to carry out its primary function.

How to do a needs assessment

What grants will you go for?

Each year, public, private, corporate, and non-profit organizations provide thousands of grants worth billions of dollars. What programs are out there that your agency could benefit from? What program will you try for for the first time? What programs have you tried for and gotten rejected, but you’re determined that this year be the year you get to the winner’s circle? Remember: Lots of grants open for applications during the first quarter!

Don’t miss another grant

Know and practice the 4 things grant winners have in common

Over the years we’ve looked at thousands of grant applications, and we have seen it all. The good. The bad. The ugly. And there are things that consistently set the winners apart from the losers. Put our 4 tips to work in your grant efforts, and you will be far more likely to celebrate a grant award in 2019.

The 4 things grant winners have in common

Let the numbers do the talking

You can make a well-stated case for why your department needs a grant more than another, but you also have to back up your story with hard data. Luckily, there’s lots of that out there. Demographics, critical infrastructure, economics, you name it.

Get the numbers and facts you need with our resource lists

Train

Just as you train for different incidents, it takes solid training to write a good grant too.

Check out our online training and national training options for what’s right for you

Need help with all this?

Our expert Senior Grant Consultants are a phone call or an email away.

Contact us today

4 things grant winners have in common

Law Enforcement, EMS, Emergency Management, Fire Service. You name it, no matter what part of the Public Safety sector an agency is in, when it comes to winning grants those winning agencies have 4 things in common.

1. They all got an early start.

Winning agencies don’t wait till the last minute. They tend to start their application and narrative 3-6 months ahead of the grant program’s opening date.

2. They all know the NOFO backward and forward.

The number one reason grants are rejected is that the applying agency committed “failure to follow directions.”

Know where these directions are?

Every single direction is in one document, known as the NOFO or RFP, the Notice of Funding Opportunity and Request for Proposal. This vital document spells out every detail of a grant program. Losing agencies sometimes barely open or skim the NOFO.

Winning agencies read, re-read, and re-read these documents again, and keep them close at hand for further reference throughout their application process.

3. They know what they need and why they need it.

Winning agencies have conducted a “needs assessment” in order to identify the highest priority item not just for themselves, but that also falls into the high priority category defined by the grant funding source.

In order to be competitive, you have to know the difference between a “need” and a “want.” They are distinctively different. Only seek “high” priority projects to go after in your grant.

Be sure you have thoroughly vetted your project with agency administrators and command staff. That way, prior to you even starting the grant application, everyone is reading from the same page and knows exactly what you will be writing for and why.

4. They seek out professional training, advice, and consulting.

Winning agencies know that you don’t just train for incident response. You train for writing grants too. They get the professional expertise they need to understand the grant process. They seek professional advice and assistance to guide their efforts and check their work for mistakes prior to submission.

As an example, the wrong answer to a single question can result in lowering your grant’s priority from a “high” to a “medium or low” priority. As such, your grant would end up rejected by the computer as not being competitive enough to go further through the vetting process. All because of one error.

While no one person or no amount of preparation can guarantee a grant’s success, these 4 steps can make it far more likely that your grant will make it to the winner’s circle.

How can you put these 4 things to work in your agency’s grant efforts today?

Firefighter jobs: How SAFER grants can help you staff for compliance with NFPA 1710–1720

Firefighters

 

The Fund Finder News, by Kurt Bradley, Senior Grants Consultant, First Responder Grants

Firefighter jobs: The need is there—but do you have the funding to bring on the personnel?

NFPA 1710 and NFPA 1720 lay out guidelines for staffing levels for fire departments to maintain proper fireground safety during responses to structure fires. For example, if you’re responding to a structure fire at a 2,000 square foot, two-story, single-family home, here’s the staffing NFPA says you should have:

  • In an urban area (>1,000 people/square mile), at least 15 staff should respond within 9 minutes, 90% of the time
  • In a suburban area (500–1,000 people/square mile), at least 10 staff should respond within 10 minutes, 80% of the time
  • In a rural area (<500 people/square mile), at least 6 staff should respond within 14 minutes, 80% of the time
  • In a remote area (travel distance greater than 8 miles), at least 4 staff should respond, 90% of the time

Are you now looking around the fire hall and thinking, “Well that’s nice, but where am I going get the people to fill those boots?”

The SAFER way to staff fire jobs

Every year, fire service organizations around the country recruit and hire personnel. That’s not because they all suddenly discovered gold in the back of the bunker gear lockers either. It’s because they received SAFER grants, ranging from a few thousand dollars, to millions of dollars in direct grant funding to the department.

Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the annual Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants make it possible for fire service organizations, like yours, to add personnel.

Before you apply for a SAFER grant

The SAFER program accepts applications once a year. In the meantime, that gives you ample opportunity to get ready for when the gates open.

Career, volunteer, and combination departments will all have to take different approaches in their grant application and narrative. (If you want to know more, you can contact one of our Senior Grant Consultants for advice.)

If you don’t have the numbers, you have the need

Take these early steps to figure out if you might be able to make a case for adding firefighter jobs with SAFER grant funding.

  1. Examine your current personnel levels and past personnel levels year to year.
  2. Review NFPA 1710 and/or NFPA 1720: Are your staffing levels in compliance?
  3. Analyze your call logs for the past three years. How many times have you had insufficient numbers of personnel responding to an incident?

Having adequate personnel decreases the time it takes to respond to an incident and get a fire under control, which also decreases the chance of harm to firefighters and the public you are supposed to be protecting.

If you don’t have the numbers, you have the need. Now you can build your case for why your department should receive a SAFER grant.

Make sure your SAFER grant application includes…

Remember, your grant application isn’t you asking for a handout. Your SAFER grant application’s job is to paint a picture of why your department is in need, and to offer a solution to the problem you’ve outlined. SAFER funding is just to help you carry the ball into the end zone.

When working on your SAFER grant, any solution you offer must:

  • Result in compliance with NFPA1710/1720 at least 85% of the time
  • Reflect that you reviewed records for the past three years
  • Determine how many times your department did not comply and what that percentage is

The lower the compliance rate, the better chance you have to get funded. Again though, remember that your solution must gain your department NFPA 1710/1720 compliance at least 85% of the time.

Keeping those jobs after SAFER funding is essential

SAFER isn’t a permanent solution to your staffing levels though. The intent of the program is to help get your department to better staffing levels. It’s your department’s responsibility to keep those jobs going after the SAFER funding period.

As part of your application, detail out how your department will continue funding these new firefighter jobs beyond the SAFER grant’s funding timeframe. You need to offer a sound sustainability plan, such as funds coming from:

  • Bonds retiring
  • Tax abatements from lured industrial facilities or new developments expiring
  • Attrition through retirement
  • Measured economic growth
  • Completion of projects that are already underway that will yield tax revenue upon completion. This cannot be “maybe projects,” though. Work must be underway, with a completion date prior to the grant performance period ending, in order for this to be considered a viable source of revenue to a proposed sustainability plan.

Better staffing and improved incident response

SAFER is a competitive program. But for a department that can demonstrate need and show a path forward beyond the SAFER grant, odds are decent that you just might be filling some more fire boots, complying with NFPA staffing guidelines, and improving your overall department safety and incident response.

If you wish to start considering a SAFER grant for your department for hiring firefighters, it would be beneficial for you to read the Notice of Funding Opportunity for last year’s SAFER grant. Typically the rules don’t change much from year to year.

Download a pdf of the 2017 NOFO for SAFER here

Or, copy-and-paste this link this into your browser:

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1520885778340-63be0643f104f6e5e598312a80caf2bf/FY2017SAFERNOFOFINAL.pdf

Needs and Capabilities Assessment: Why and How Do We Accomplish This?

Needs Assessment

There is an old saying that floats about and holds a special truth not only in how we conduct our daily operations, but also in how we go about applying to grant funding sources. That saying is:

“If You Fail to Plan, You Can Plan to Fail!”

Proper planning involves a myriad of things, one of which is assuring that you have proper manpower and equipment to carry out your basic mission for your citizens.

Get the facts of what you need to know about your department’s ability to respond to incidents

One of the tools that you should be using in that planning is a needs and capabilities assessment. It is one of the first things that you need to do, especially if you are the Chief of the Department.

This report is what gives you the facts you need to know about how well prepared your department is to carry out its primary function, whether that be a Fire/EMS or Law Enforcement agency. It gives you a “State of the Union” report, so to speak, about your department.

So, just exactly what is a “Needs and Capabilities Assessment,” and how do we go about doing one?

Inventory all the equipment the department has

The first thing to do is a complete inventory of all equipment the department has. This inventory should include the following:

Personal Protective Equipment

  • What is your PPE? Whether that be structural turnout gear, wildland gear, ballistic protection equipment, or specialty haz-mat suits, inventory and assess all PPE
  • How many coats, pants, fire hoods, boots, helmets, goggles, gloves, etc., do you have?
  • What are the ages of each piece?
  • When was it purchased and to what national standard/edition does it comply with?
  • What is the condition of the equipment exactly?
  • How do you clean and repair it?
  • Where is it stored it when not in use?

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

  • How many SCBA sets do you have?
  • Describe them well?
  • When were they purchased?
  • How many spare bottles do you have, and what is their age and NFPA standard/edition of compliance?
  • When are your bottles going to expire?
  • How many facemasks do you have? When were they purchased, and to what standard/edition do they comply?
  • What is wrong, exactly, with the SCBA or bottles?
  • How much money have you expended in the past 2 years repairing or inspecting these bottles?
  • Do you have a compressor-fill station to fill bottles with? How old is it? What is it costing you to maintain? If you don’t have one how do you fill your bottles now?

Hoses

  • Do you have enough hose to meet NFPA1901 compliance on each apparatus?
  • What hose testing have you done, and what were the results?
  • How much hose has been taken out of service and needs to be replaced?
  • What size and lengths are needed?
  • What appliances or nozzles and attachments do you have? What is wrong with them?
  • Are your hoses compatible with surrounding mutual aid departments?

Apparatus/Vehicles

  • You should obtain a complete list of each apparatus by year of manufacture, manufacturer, pump and tank size.
  • Number of seat belted positions?
  • Number of SCBA carried onboard?
  • Mileage, hours on pumps and engines?
  • How much money in maintenance has been spent during last 2-3 years?
  • Is each apparatus passing its tech inspection for pumping capacity or aerial operations?
  • Are they all properly equipped with emergency lighting and properly marked to NFPA standards?

Miscellaneous Tools

  • How many vent saws, PPV fans, ceiling tools, flappers, axes, pike poles, ladders, hydraulic rescue tools, generators and scene lighting equipment do you have?
  • What condition are these tools in?

Assess all personnel, training, and certifications

The next thing in completing the Needs and Capabilities Assessment involves personnel.

  • How many members do you have?
  • How many are active FFs?
  • How many are strictly support staffs or fire police?
  • How many are trained to the equivalent of or certified at FF1 and FF2?
  • What about EMTs?
  • How many hold dual certification, and to what level?
  • Are all of your people compliant with NIMS?
  • How do you staff?

Facilities

  • What about your station houses?
  • How many stations do you have?
  • How are they staffed?
  • What is the condition of each?
  • Do any need major repairs? If so, how much is it anticipated to cost to repair?
  • Do you have living quarters in them?
  • Do they have an auxiliary emergency generator supporting them?
  • Do they have Vehicle Exhaust Removal Systems?
  • Are they ADA compliant?
  • Do they need expansion in terms of living space, admin offices, training rooms, wellness and fitness rooms etc.?

Call Volume & Incident Response

Next, you need to do an analysis of the past three years of your department’s call volumes.

  • Are you seeing increases in certain areas and why?
  • Are you staying level with call volume, or are you increasing or decreasing?
  • What kind of critical infrastructure are you exposed to exactly?
  • How much mutual aid are you calling for or responding for?

What to do once you have the data

Once you have gone through these questions and gathered the data for them, you should be able to sit down and do a comprehensive report delineating data and statistics for them all. This now becomes a planning tool not only in budgetary matters, but in looking toward the future operations of the department. It also becomes a sheet you can turn to in deciding what you might need to be asking for in your grant applications.

Knowing where shortcomings are helps you to develop a “wants vs. needs” list, and there is a distinct difference between the two.

A “wants” list is items or equipment which would make your tasks easier to perform or give you additional capabilities, but it is not a critical piece of equipment for you to perform your basic mission tasks. It’s good to know what your department wants, but wants won’t help you get grants.

Identify the needs and seek grants to fill those needs

When you are dealing with federal grant programs, you want to be looking at your “needs” list and seeing which items or equipment on that list are listed as a priority of the funding source to whom you are applying for.

Most of the federal grant programs (including AFG, FP&S and SAFER) pretty much require you to make your request based upon the results of a “Needs and Capabilities” study you have either had prepared or accomplished on your own.

When you read the RFP/NOFO of the grant program, it will always spell out what priority certain requests will have. Never go for anything other than a high priority on any grant program if you expect to be successful. This is where the document you are producing comes in really handy, as it will allow you to prioritize the wants and needs on your list according to what the program funding source’s priorities are.

Although it might seem like the proverbial pain in the backside to do, once you’ve completed your needs assessment it can be a guidance document for you in many different decisions involved in efficient and safe operations for your department. Having completed a needs assessment can also increase your likelihood of being funded, by assuring that you have formed the proper nexus between your needs and that of the program funding source. Many grant programs will give higher priority to those requests that are submitted based upon a “Needs and Capabilities” assessment.

3 steps to get ready for 2017 grants

Get ahead of the game

It’s time to look ahead to next year. How will your department bridge funding gaps, and acquire critical training and equipment?

Plan. Learn. Train. Here are 3 steps you can take now to get ready for 2017 grants.

Step 1: Plan

What grants will your department go for?

Every year, grants are available from public, private, corporate, and non-profit providers, and those funds can benefit Law Enforcement Agencies like yours.

Take Action

  • Review our list of available Law Enforcement Grants
  • Bookmark programs your agency should try for
  • Review each grant and its requirements
  • Do the work, write the application, and get it done

Step 2: Learn

Solid data and a strong narrative make a big difference.

Just as you need solid evidence to build a good case, grants need solid data and a strong narrative to give you a competitive shot at a program. We maintain comprehensive lists of data and statistical resources plus government websites that you can turn to get that critical information.

Take Action

  • Understand the grant’s requirements
  • Review our resources for the sites you need
  • Pull the data into your application and narrative
  • Follow the rules of the grant

Step 3: Train

Get the training to get the gear.

Whether you are writing your first or your hundredth grant, there is always more to learn and improve. Grants can also be confusing, but solid, “meat and potatoes,” down-to-earth plain-talk training can give you the skills and confidence you need to tackle any grant.

Take Action

  • Discuss with your superiors and administrators how grant-writing training can help your agency
  • Review available resources
  • Check our National Training schedule or take our Online Grant-Writing Course on your schedule and wherever you are

Good luck with 2017 grants!

Kurt’s 5 Fire Grant Tips for FY2016 AFG

With a $310,500,000 awards pool, America’s largest fire grant program, the FY2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), is open for applications Oct. 11-Nov. 18. AFG is expected to make 2,500 fire grant awards to protect firefighters, EMS and the public against fire hazards.

But with thousands of applications vying for this pool of grant money, how can your grant stand out from the pack? Kurt Bradley, Senior Grant Consultant for First Responder Grants, has these 5 tips:

Bring your A-game

Money is the same as last year, which will mean it’s going to be a very competitive grant. Your application and narrative will need solid data and a strong need to help it stand out from the pack.

There is very little funding for Vehicle Acquisitions

Out of the 2,050 applications funded under FY2015 AFG, only about 160 were for Vehicle Acquisition fire grants. Only 25% of total AFG money can go to vehicles, and AFG has pledged 10% of that money to ambulances. That gives you an effective 15% of the total AFG money going for new apparatus.

Since the grant money is now so low when it comes to replacing apparatus, and since so few apparatus are being funded, departments are wise to have a Plan B in mind for replacing their apparatus. AFG is a real long shot right now to win a vehicle. If you need apparatus, look at non-AFG ways to fund it, and focus your AFG application on a higher-priority need.

Alternatively, if you really need a vehicle, your application must scream and bleed with the urgency of your need.

High-priority projects only

There is absolutely no sense in writing your grant around a project that is rated as “low or medium.” Plain and simple, it will not get funded. Focus only on high-priority projects. Your grant will be far more competitive.

Haven’t won AFG in a while? That could help you

Departments not having received a grant in at least 3 years will earn extra points. That could help your application move up the ranks and increase your likelihood of getting funded.

Micro-grants are still a very good option.

FY2015 AFG saw many “micro-grants” under $10,000. These micro-grants are a good way to fund high-priority but lower-dollar projects. If the need is great but the cost is smaller than, say, replacing apparatus or procuring dozens of sets of PPE, write the grant and make a strong case.

Public Safety budget cuts and what to do about it

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Has your department been suffering from budget cuts?

We’ll just pause now that you’ve snorted coffee all over the screen.

Of course your department has been suffering. Budget cuts at the state level, local level, you name it. Public safety agencies like your have a tougher, more challenging job than ever-but all too often that’s been accompanied by cuts in the resources needed to meet those challenges and keep both the public and your personnel safe.

But… what do you do about it?

Here are some ideas.

Solutions are out there. We’re here to help with that too. Contact us anytime for a free chat about how your department has been suffering, and how we can help.

Image: Julie Kibler

27 Ways to Help Your Agency Understand & Get Grants

Kurt BradleyDid you know that our own Kurt Bradley is a retired law enforcement officer and administrator, with 25 years experience?

When Kurt talks about grants, he understands them not only as a grant writer, but as a public safety professional who understands the challenges faced by today’s law enforcement, fire service, and emergency management organizations.

That’s why Kurt brings his insight, analysis, and understanding to the Fund Finder News, his occasional columns and commentaries about all things public safety grants.

So far Kurt has written 27 Fund Finders, with more on the way. Each piece helps you understand the grants game-and what it takes to win.

So check ’em out. From convincing City Hall to how to handle rejection, how to get letters of support to how to write a grant, there’s a Fund Finder that can help you play the grants game.

The Fund Finder News »

Why Grant Applications Need Letters of Support

Public Safety Grant News and Tips by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

Image: slackorama - https://flic.kr/p/uPLKe
Image: slackorama – https://flic.kr/p/uPLKe

Why Should I Solicit Letters of Support for My Grant Application?

Departments frequently ask me, “Why should I solicit letters of support for my grant applications?” So let’s take a few minutes here and discuss letters of support (LOS). It’s an important but little understood part of putting together a solid grant application.

For Starters, Download This Template

Our simple Word .doc template below gives you what you need to write an LOS:

Do Politicians Understand Public Safety?

When departments ask me about getting an LOS, my first response to that question is usually “Why would you not want to do that?” Let’s face a simple fact here. The federal grant system is a political mechanism, plain and simple. We need to remember that when we elect a new cadre of US Congressional types and put them on the hill in Washington D.C., most of them have never held that office before and they really have absolutely no idea what makes this country tick.

It’s also pretty safe to say that most of the freshman Senators and US Congressman probably don’t have a really good idea of what their actual job entails. Quite a few of them probably find out the hard way that many of those political promises they made to get elected are in fact going to be impossible for them to accomplish singularly. Oh, they are well-meaning. Most of them “think” that they can truly make a positive difference. There is, however, a learning curve for many of them.

How many newly elected members of Congress do you think have any background whatsoever in public safety? A scant few. If we are lucky, maybe 1% could check that box in the affirmative. That means they literally have no idea what it takes to run a modern fire department or police department. All they pretty much know is basically what most citizens know about us: when their house in on fire or the burglar is kicking in the front door, when they pick up the phone and dial 911 they expect to hear sirens in the distance getting closer and closer to their abode, and they better be hearing it pretty darn fast too.

But do you think they know how much it costs to have those two fire trucks, with 8-12 FFs on them, to show up? Do you think they know how much a bulletproof vest, body camera and a squad car actually costs? Well, no. They haven’t a clue in most cases.

This is where seeking a letter of support becomes so important.

About More Than Just Your Grant Application

When you are seeking an (LOS) from a Congressional Representative of Senator, it’s not just about your grant application. It’s an opportunity to educate them about our profession, our communities and the challenges that we all face on a daily basis.

If you are soliciting your letter of support correctly, then you will have sent your request for a letter along with a complete copy of your grant. When you do that, you are now giving them a real chance to find out a little about what is going on in the communities and towns that they were elected to represent and support.

An LOS Lobbies Congress for Your Agency

Think about your grant application for a minute. What all is talked about in there? You usually have the following sections in most grant applications:

  • Community Information
  • Department Information
  • Financial Need
  • Problem Statement
  • Program Approach or Project Description
  • Project Budget
  • Cost Benefit statement
  • Impact or Statement of Effect

In a single document you have educated the reader as to who you are, where you are, what problem(s) you are facing and why you cannot handle this problem alone. You are asking the Congressman or Senator to support your effort to get back some of the Federal Income Tax money that you, and your citizens, have been paying every year.

Now, let’s think back to the campaign trail for a minute, when these Congressman and Senators were trying to get your votes. What is almost every one of them promising you at election time? No more tax increases. Now, if grant money comes from federal income taxes, are you not just giving the Congressman or Senator the chance to deliver on what they said they were going to do?

You also doing your part to effectively lobby for your particular career path, be that Fire, Law Enforcement or EMS.

If a Senator or Representative understands your challenges and needs better, don’t you think that just might have an influence on how they might vote when considering the appropriations for our grant programs? The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program was supposed to be funded at $1 billion dollars per year; in 2014 there was only $304 million available for funding. 75% of the money that should be there, is not there. Part of the reason it is not there is because there is very little advocating occurring for why that funding needs to be there, every year.

After reading your grant application, that Congressman or Senator just might think a little harder about what they approve or disapprove in the coming years as far as funding for grant programs for public safety agencies is concerned.

A letter of support can extend itself far beyond just your application this year. It just might have benefits for you and your department in future years as well.