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It's Not What You Know...

...it's who.

At least that’s true in the world of public safety. Most folks in the public safety realm are well aware of the annually administered, direct federal grants, such as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and the Justice Assistance Grant Local Solicitation. These grants are a “straight shot” from applicant to funder—that is, the applying entity submits an application directly to the funding agency—no middleperson.

However, there are a myriad of programs from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) that are “pass through” programs. In the pass through process, funds go through the state, and possibly even a regional entity, before they are made available to the local entity.

States may still have to apply for these funds, and often keep a portion to cover administrative costs, but each state will maintain its own re-granting process, timelines, and priorities.

It’s important to be aware of whether or not you are directly eligible to apply to a particular grant opportunity (and receive funds from it), or if it is a pass through grant for the state, meaning you will need to follow up with the state to determine what you need to do to apply for funds for your project.

The question is: “Who do I need to contact to find out about these pass through opportunities?” In some cases it’s fairly simple; however, others may require some extensive digging.

For DHS opportunities, such as the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP), Operation Stonegarden (OPSG), and Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG), the State Administrative Agency (SAA) within each individual state is responsible for applying to the DHS and administering funds to entities on the local level. You can locate key points of contact (SAAs) on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/DHS website at the following link: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/28689?id=6363 .

A quick email or phone call to inquire about your state’s process, timing, and application materials to the SAA will usually garner you enough details about the pass through process for a specific program to indicate whether or not your agency can apply for funding.

Sometimes, such an inquiry is just the tip of the iceberg. You may be directed to another point of contact that your agency has to work through, such as DHS’s Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) . For UASI funding, the Urban Area Working Group (UAWG) is responsible for preparing the applicant for submission by the SAA. This means that there’s a whole other layer to work through. These UAGWs are a tight knit group that is usually comprised of law enforcement and emergency management officials. This group represents the UASI region and holds periodic planning meetings throughout the year. If your agency resides in a UASI area and you haven’t yet worked with your UAGW , it’s important that you make contact with them and take part in these planning sessions.

However, finding points of contact for UAWG’s can be somewhat difficult. I’ve compiled a list of contacts too lengthy to include in this article, however, if you are interested in that information feel free to email your request to me at dcasion@grantsoffice.com .

State administered Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) from the BJA are another pass through opportunity that can be tough to get dialed in to. This is especially true considering the difference in procedure from state-to-state.

It’s usually a state’s public safety department or the state police that administers this funding, but not always. A simple search in your preferred search engine will more often than not point you to the specific state agency that administers the JAG funding. If the agency is not listed, you may want to refer back to the SAA link provided earlier in the article.

In some cases, the folks who administer DHS funding may also be tasked with dispersing JAG funding, or will often times know who does. You may notice that your state’s website dedicated to the JAG program (if your state has one) is sorely out of date and/or doesn’t contain enough information for you to determine if an opportunity is viable for your agency. No worries, once you’ve identified a point of contact for funding, again, a quick email or phone call inquiring about your state’s process, timing, and application materials will help you procure the information you need to proceed as appropriate.

Taking some time now, to become familiar with your pass through points of contact will ensure that your agency is in tune to the various pass though opportunities in your state. Also, it will make certain that you’re not missing out on much needed funding for your agency’s important projects.