Too often, inexperienced non-profit and local government groups wait until the last moment to ask for help navigating HUD's competitive grant programs. The desperate requests frequently come from groups and communities with genuine needs long after HUD's SuperNOFA is published - when many other grantees are completing and preparing to submit applications.
Anticipating problems is one of the tasks HUD field offices are taking more and more seriously today. This year, frustrated calls from inexperienced applicants are down in the Mid-Atlantic region because potential grant applicants got a "leg up" on the process through a pre-NOFA workshop hosted by the Pennsylvania State Office in mid-January. Nearly one hundred potential grantees from four states heard from HUD staff and "serial winners" - consistently successful groups and communities - about the key ingredients in a successful application for HUD funding.
|The seminar began with a general session introducing the participants to "Writing a Grant Application 101." After they learned how to prepare a quality grant application, two successful HUD grantees then presented - in candid fashion - their actual experience with the HUD Grant Writing Process.|
Thirteen workshops were offered in all and provided an overview of the Super NOFA process, public housing programs, multifamily development programs (811 & 202), housing asset management programs, fair housing programs, housing counseling, lead based paint, colleges & universities program, CPD programs including homeless, youthbuild, economic development, AIDS housing, technical assistance, Self Help Homeownership, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
|Interest was so high in this pre-application seminar that registration had to be closed early when every available room in the Pennsylvania State office was used. Over 140 people attended. Next year's approach to shortening the grant application learning curve will consider steps to help more if not all of the interested but inexperienced applicants.|
|Responses from the seminar's evaluations included comments like: "Great idea to pull people into the funding process earlier;" "The successful grantee speakers were an important part of the event with their hands-on-experience tips;" "Good job. Overview made the SuperNOFA make more sense to get the big picture and start thinking about how all of HUD's funding could be used."|
The success of the event was the result of strong partnership between Community Builders, program staff, and several successful HUD grantees. Now that the NOFA has been released and satellite broadcasts are being actively hosted, HUD staff in Pennsylvania and Delaware are confident that their communities are better prepared to put together truly competitive applications.