Find Your Funding: Part 3 of 3 – Tips for Grant and Loan Applications

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You’ve found appropriate funding avenues for your water project, now what? Here are some tips that can help you through your grant and/or loan application process.

  1. Watch the Websites. Application windows open and close throughout the calendar year. Contact agencies to identify expected schedules and then diligently check appropriate web sites to maximize the available time to prepare your documentation.
  2. Do your research. Ensure that your project, program and/or municipality meets ALL of the requirements for the particular funding mechanism. These can include economic, financial and environmental need; locale; completion date; and results. Make sure your goals are in line with the organization’s mission.
  3. Follow the rules. Make a checklist of all the specific requirements associated with the application. Include each form, attachment or piece of information and follow any formatting requirements. Note where original signatures are needed. Competition is stiff and disqualifications happen! Don’t waste the reviewer’s and your own time by missing a required piece of information.
  4. Determine the level of engineering required. Some application processes require conceptual plans as part of the submittal. Base engineering data and even preliminary material quantities for a project may need to be developed. Alternates may need to be considered and viable options documented and presented.
  5. Prepare necessary environmental documentation. To qualify for federal funding, all projects must include an environmental review in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, even if no impacts are expected. This review documentation should address land use, floodplains, wetlands, historic preservation, biological resources, water quality, coastal resources and socio-economics/environmental justice.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Consider that these organizations want to give away their money. In general, they’re happy to answer questions because they want your submittal to meet their requirements. Make a personal connection with the point of contact for your funding opportunity, because a relationship with the agency never hurts.
  7. Gather attachments as early as possible. Many applications require several years of financial statements as well as other fiscal information, some of which can take time to assemble. Census data, detailed scope, mappings, photographs, key personnel resumes and/or cost estimates may have to be prepared.
  8. Use compelling language. Explain clearly the need associated with your application and enumerate goals and benefits. Relate how your project or program supports the organization’s mission.
  9. Be specific and detailed. Reviewers are rarely familiar with the locale and technical requirements of your application. Being so closely tied to the project or program, applicants can easily gloss over pertinent details or write generalized descriptions. An outside peer review can help identify confusing or missing information.
  10. Identify and meet the due date. Be prepared to submit the application at least a day before the due date and confirm receipt. Things happen, delivery services lose packages, electronic files get lost in transit. Make sure you have time to resend the information if necessary.

Although the application process can be daunting and time consuming, the result is worth the effort when a project or program can move forward. KCI successfully secured a $383,000 grant with Clean Water Management Trust Fund for an innovative stormwater management project at a local community college campus. The school sought to take a leadership role in promoting sustainable development and environmental stewardship in part to foster students into their professional careers. Students helped identify the project and worked with the school and KCI to prepare the application for a regenerative stormwater conveyance—a technology at the forefront of storwmater management. The application process included an abstract, scope, mapping, timeline, potential results, budget, project value as well as roles and responsibilities. The budget and cost proposal also defined matched funding from both adding the college and KCI via in-kind services.