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Written by Law and Order Staff

Sterling Solutions & Systems specializes in assisting public safety agencies with technology acquisitions. Recently, Sterling introduced a program called GrantSmart, a program intended to make the small department just as competitive in the grant and nontraditional funding marketplace as the big departments with full-time grant writers and researchers.

The GrantSmart Money Plan is an analysis service that determines what the agency’s funding needs are going to be for the next three to five years on a rolling basis. The analysis doesn’t just cover present operating expenses extrapolated out and adjusted for inflation. Instead, the analysis takes into account new capital expenditures, planned acquisitions, and growth to meet the needs of the community being served.

The result determines the gap analysis between what funding is likely to be available and what new funding will have to be found in order to make these plans come together. This kind of analysis, which is usually beyond the budgeting expertise of the typical small agency administrator, is extremely useful in convincing the governing body of the needs of the agency while revealing the necessity of seeing unconventional funding sources.

GrantSmart Day Watch is a kind of information subscription service. The professional grant writers and analysts at Sterling maintain a close watch on grant opportunities from federal and state levels of government, and also from private foundations that provide funding to public agencies. As new opportunities are revealed, this information is provided to Day Watch subscribers so that they can act on the new prospects and take a proactive approach.

Sterling also monitors changes in statutes and case law that provide additional funding possibilities, or limit those already in place. Their experience is that the hot topics in grant funding can be foreseen for three to five years into the future. Presently, homeland security and communication interoperability issues are the prime targets for funding.

Funds Now provides an analysis of current operations to see where additional revenues can be generated locally without raising taxes. In most cases, this is done by identifying services that are provided at little or no cost, and converting them to a fee-based model. For most citizens, the process is relatively painless as they won’t pay fees very often (for example, by charging for copies of police reports), and it shifts the cost to the people that actually use the service.

Another example of a service where fees can be generated is to charge booking and lodging fees when prisoners are processed into a jail or kept there overnight. If the agency making the arrest is not the same one that “owns” the jail, the agency that does run the jail can recoup their costs, and then some, by charging for the service.

Finally, the Great Apps service guides the grant process from inception to award. This is more than just a grant application writing service. Great Apps first works with the community to identify needs and then develops strategies for how to address these needs. Once this is accomplished and an appropriate grant source has been identified, Great Apps prepares the grant application according to the guidelines of the organization issuing the grant.

Some grant requirements are so complex and specific that the layman has little chance of getting all of the details right on the first try. Sterling’s grant writers have extensive experience in this area with grants of all types, and have a very high success rate with their applications. Sterling also takes advantage of the network of contacts they have developed at all levels of government, to insure that the grant is fairly reviewed and that questions are answered quickly and effectively.

The GrantSmart Day Watch program is $200 per month, with an annual subscription required. Money Plan costs about $1000 (a one-time fee), but each contract is quoted individually, as different communities will have more or less complex needs. Funds Now has a $2500 price tag, payable one time, and is for an assessment of police-related activities. Finally, the Great Apps service is quoted individually, as the complexity of each grant application varies widely. However, for Day Watch subscribers, 50% of their Day Watch subscription fees can be applied toward a Great Apps package.

Published in Law and Order, Aug 2005

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