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.