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Preparing for FEMA Mega-Competitions

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Breaking news came from the FEMA website last week. The FY 2013 Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) application period was announced. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin accepting applications today, February 18. The submission period will close on March 21 at 5:00 p.m. EST. This mega-grant competition is the first in 2014 and will eventually be followed by announcements for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.

What Makes This a "Mega-Competition"?

Congress appropriated $320,920,083 for AFG in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2013 (Public Law 113-6). As required by statute, FEMA has made available 10 percent of this funding for the FY 2013 FP&S Grant Program. This means that there is $32,092,008 up for grabs by hopeful eligible grant applicants across the country (including U.S. territories).

Historically, several thousand applications are submitted for funding consideration. And, we all know the rest of the story—fewer than 10 percent are awarded a FP&S grant. You can review the list of previous grantees here.

Who Are the Eligible Applicants?

For Fire Prevention and Safety Activity, the eligible applicants for this activity include fire departments, national, regional, state, local, Native American tribal organizations, and nonprofit organizations that are recognized for their experience and expertise in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. Both private and public nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity.

For Firefighter Safety Research and Development (R&D), the eligible applicants include national, state, local, Native American tribal organizations, and nonprofit organizations, such as academic (e.g., universities), public health, occupational health, and injury prevention institutions. Both private and public nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity.

Key Areas and Tips for Success

1. Vulnerability Statement
  • Research and clearly summarize the vulnerability that the project will address.
  • Reflect on and compassionately write about the steps taken to determine the vulnerability and how the target population was identified.
  • Make sure to research recent statistics that support your project’s need and the audience that you’re targeting for services.

2. Implementation Plan 

  • Clearly and correctly write your goals and objectives and discuss the methodology and steps to achieve them.
  • Include strategic planning partners in your marketing efforts implementation narrative.
  • Present project milestones to illustrate how the materials or deliverables will be distributed.

3. Evaluation Plan 

  • While goals are not typically supposed to be measurable, this grant application does ask you to identify measurable goals and to determine the effectiveness of the project. Remember, to insert numbers and percentages into your goals statements.
  • Write about the methodology for measuring the success of your project. Think about how you will collect the evaluation data and how the outcome that you anticipate is directly related to your project.

4. Cost Benefit 

  • Your project must demonstrate a high benefit for the dollars that you are asking FEMA to invest.
  • The costs must be reasonable for your specific target population.
  • Finish this narrative section with a credible justification for the budget line items.

5. Sustainability 

  • Critical to the entire application is your ability to sustain the FEMA-funded project beyond the grant performance period. Talk to your governing body and come up with a solid plan for maintenance on equipment, or starting a capital fire services equipment fund or seeking private sector grants to maintain what FEMA has started.
  • Write about your project’s potential for long-term benefits including details on how this sustainability goal will be accomplished.

6. Financial Need 

  • You must be able to explain in great detail why you are unable to fund your project without federal assistance. This is also the narrative section where you write about how the critical functions of your agency are affected by this financial crunch.
  • Have a funding plan and be able to strongly present your efforts to secure funding from other sources. Provide details about your operating budget and discuss how similar projects are funded.

If you follow the tips for success, your agency may be in the list of this year’s grantees!

2017 Update

 For those that will be applying for the 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, here are some specific tips from Washington's The Ferguson Group to put your best application forward: https://blog.ecivis.com/afg-2017-tips-for-success


Building a Grant Funding Strategy for Cities and Counties