Bringing Home the Bacon: Maximizing your "D"LT Score
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The scoring criteria for DLT is broken down into two main portions, objective and subjective. While an applicant's subjective score is more difficult to anticipate because it is partially based on how the application compares to others, the objective scoring is very straightforward and should be maximized as much as possible to raise your score. Of the 220 points available, 125 points are based on objective criteria, so working to get the highest objective score possible can significantly increase your odds of receiving an award. While it is crucial to write a well-though out, compliant narrative, we will focus here on the objective scoring criteria, which are easier to control. Missing out on objective points is avoidable, and can be detrimental to your chances of pulling down funding.
Four factors can contribute to your objective score. One of these factors is whether or not your end-user sites are located in designated Empowerment Zones. Up to ten points are available based on this criterion. EZ designation is based on federal funding received by communities participating in the Empowerment Zone program. For more information on this program, see the USDA Rural Development website, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.
The three factors that are most malleable are the rurality and poverty levels of end-user sites and matching funds provided by the applicant. Rurality scores are based on the population levels of the hub/end-user and end-user sites included in your application. Applicants must qualify for a minimum of 20 points in the category to apply at all. However, up to 45 points are available based on this criterion. If your score in this category is not as high as it could be, you might want to consider adding additional end-user sites in exceptionally rural or rural areas (populations under 5,000, and between 5,001-10,000, respectively) or removing some more highly populated areas to increase your rurality score. This score is determined by calculating the mean of the rurality scores of each hub/end-user or end-user site, so including more rural areas or removing more populous areas can help to raise your score.
Poverty levels are determined based on National Student Lunch Program eligibility and scores in this category also are reached by calculating the average of each hub/end-user and end-user's NSLP percentage. Similar to adjusting your rurality score, you may want to consider including areas with higher NSLP percentages or removing areas with lower NSLP eligibility to increase your poverty level score. Up to 35 points can be awarded based on this factor.
The fourth objective scoring criterion is determined by the amount of matching funds the grantee will provide if awarded funding. Determining your points in this category is very simple; the more funding you can contribute, the higher your score will be. Although a minimum of 15% is required, if possible, providing a higher match can not only increase your objective score, but will also demonstrate your commitment to the project. Up to 35 points can be awarded based on the percent of matching funds.
It is highly recommended that you attain an objective score of at least 90 points before applying to DLT. Applicants with scores below this range very rarely receive funding, and because the objective score can be easily determined and potentially altered, working to raise this score can greatly increase your likelihood of a successful DLT application.