Wednesday, July 13, 2011

At a Glance: Planning and Implementation in the 2011 Promise Competition

Last week the Department of Education announced the final notices for the 2011 Promise Neighborhoods Program. For 2011, the Promise Neighborhoods Program was authorized $30 million:
  • It is estimated that 4-6 Implementation grants of $4-6 million annually will be awarded. Implementation Grant proposals should reflect a plan and budget covering 3-5 years.
  • An estimated 10 Planning Grants of up to $500k will be awarded for one year of planning.
  • $1.5 million of the Promise funds have been set aside for technical assistance, evaluation and peer review.
As with last year’s competition, the Notice establishes three absolute priorities for applicants. Absolute Priority 1 outlines the general requirements applicants must meet in their proposal to create a Promise Neighborhood. Absolute Priorities 2 and 3 invite applicants to submit a proposal that addresses all the requirements in Absolute Priority 1 but for rural and tribal communities respectively. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes. To receive a grant the applicant must be representative of the geographic area proposed to be served, currently provide at least one of the solutions proposed, and operate or propose to work with at least one public elementary or secondary school that is located in the geographic area to be served. Applications are due by September 6, 2011.

Overview of Planning Grants:

In the 2011 Notice, the Planning Grant requirements have been collapsed into five main categories. In the proposal, the applicant must:

1. Describe the geographically defined area and the level of distress in the target area

2. Describe how it will plan to build a continuum of solutions that is based on the best available evidence and designed to improve educational outcomes and support healthy development and wellbeing of children in the neighborhood. The plan should describe how the applicant will:
  • build community support for the plan
  • reach all children and youth in the neighborhood over time.
  • leverage and integrate high quality programs and related public and private investments and exiting neighborhood assets into continuum
  • identify federal, state, and local policies, regulations, and requirements that may serve as barriers to carrying out the project
3. Describe how it will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment with a segmentation analysis to ensure that children in the neighborhood receive needed and appropriate services using the indicators in the notice as well as any additional proposed indicators.

4. Describe experience and lessons learned and how applicant will build capacity of management team and director in areas of: 
  • working with residents and families, school district, government leaders, and other service providers;
  • collecting analyzing and using data for continuous learning and accountability, including developing a plan to build, adopt or expand a longitudinal database
  • creating formal and informal partnerships for purposes of providing solutions in the continuum as well as to attain and align resources in order to take the project to scale
  • securing and integrating multiple public and private resources to support the project
5. Describe commitment to work with DOE and a national evaluator

Overview of Implementation Grants:

The main component of the implementation grant proposal is the continuum of solutions the applicant must propose and the accompanying Appendix required by DOE. The continuum of solutions must be based on the best available evidence and applicants will have to include in their application an appendix that summarizes the evidence supporting each proposed solution. The appendix also has to include:
  • how and when the solution will be implemented;
  • the partners that will participate in the implementation of each solution;
  • the estimated per child costs, including administrative costs, to implement each solution;
  • the estimated number of children, by age, in the neighborhood who will be served by each solution;
  • how a segmentation analysis was used to target the children and youth to be served;
  • and the source of funds that will be used to pay for each solution.
In addition to describing how it will impact children and youth in the neighborhood, DOE is also asking Implementation Grant applicants to describe how they will improve systems and leverage resources. Part of the narrative has to establish annual goals for evaluating progress to improve systems – such as changes in policies that will improve outcomes for children in the neighborhood.  In addition, the applicant has to develop annual goals for evaluating progress in leveraging resources -- both public and private -- to sustain and scale up their work.

Some communities submitted comments to the draft notice about whether the Implementation Grant should be used for programming versus capacity building. In response, DOE states that it anticipates the majority of implementation grant funds would be used to develop the grantees administrative capacity and infrastructure while other public and private sources would be used to support solutions; however, the Dept believes that each applicant is best positioned to determine how to allocate funds.

Applications are due by September 6, 2011.  The 2011 Notice and application package can be found on the DOE Promise Neighborhoods website as well as other background and overview materials.

Other Resources:

CSSP's Guide to Successfully Preparing for Federal Grants
Promise Neighborhoods Institute

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