New tool shows winning grant proposals

CrimeSolutions.gov provides a listing of “effective” and “promising” programs

Every time I teach a grant writing class, someone asks: “Where do I find funded grant proposals to use as examples to write my own?” Most police departments are not willing to share their grant applications with other departments.  And while the federal grant makers post who received the grant; the contents of the application belong to the awarded department.  The Bureau of Justice has recently created CrimeSolutions.gov to help answer the question of what gets funded.

Replication of programs which have a track record of success is highly encouraged. (Making a copy of someone else’s grant application is not!!) CrimeSolutions.gov provides a listing of “effective” and “promising” programs on this site. All of these postings have be evaluated through an eight step review and evidence rating process

For Law enforcement, each program reviewed must demonstrate an aim to prevent or reduce crime, reduce delinquency or address related problems such as gangs or school issues. A full literature search is completed to identify any and all relevant information needed by the review team to support the program evaluation.  Each grant program must be evaluated with at least one randomized field experiment or with a comparison condition. That means it meets the criteria of a scientifically-proven evidence based program as required by the grant funding notice (also RFP).

A lead researcher then screens the program using predetermined criteria. Strength of research design, breadth of documentation, type of analytic procedures used, sample size, independence of evaluator and year of publication to determine of the program is evidence-based. Once the lead researcher has satisfactorily completed the research, certified study reviewers begin the program evidence review using a scoring instruments (Scoring Instrument)   The scoring instrument consisted of two parts : the conceptual framework by which the program was developed and the quality, outcomes and fidelity of the program.

The score for each of the four categories above is calculated separately and used to assess each program studied. Each program is rated by a 1-5 scoring.  The program is then ranked into Effective, Promising and No Effects rating.

As this is only an overview of the entire, rather complicated process, please go to the CrimeSolutions.gov and read about the entire evaluation system. Unless you had some college courses in research and program evaluation, you may find much of this language and process foreign. For the grant writer and the police department it means you might want to consider having an outside evaluator assist with your grant program development process. It has been my experience that most colleges and universities who teach Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Psychology etc. have departments who are able and willing to assist with the research, monitoring and evaluation of the grant program. Many are willing to assist with this process in return for the permission to use the program has part of their research for publication. This is a sound win-win partnership for both the police department and the post-secondary institution. This will also strengthen the scoring of your grant request. This provides a sound independent evaluator score under the CrimsSolutions.gov scoring process.

Fidelity is critical when selecting a program to replicate. You must assure that you are using the same specific procedures, policies, personnel and client characteristics. It is advisable not to try to develop your own pathway for materials, curriculum etc.  Perform a complete in-depth search and then work to adapt as possible what fits your community data and issues. Assure that you will not re-create the wheel.  There are many evidence-based libraries at this site,

Many policing strategies and methods to combat crime are listed within the law enforcement section of CrimeSolutions.gov.  All of these programs originated in a grant request. Details about each strategy may be found by clicking on the program name. Once into the Program description you will find information about the program goals, target sites, program components, key personnel and program theory.  All of this will assist in developing your related grant application/

This site will provide you with a complete understanding of the depth of knowledge it takes to create a sound and fundable grant application to the Office of Justice.  Programs published for your review are not an exhaustive list of all grants funded by the OJP. They are however, the best indicators of success and should be reviewed carefully to assist the department in understanding how to best approach their next grant application.  The components and criteria met by the best promising practices should help you understand what it takes to successfully obtain federal funding.

Law enforcement is only one of the fields reviewed by CrimeSolutions.gov. Also included are corrections, Crime and crime prevention, Drugs and Substance Abuse, Juveniles, Technology and Forensics and Victims and Victimizations.  As all of these topics are interrelated, you may also want to share this site with your community partners for use for joint partnership applications for funding.

By the way, there is a lot to be learned by reviewing the programs which did not have outcomes or evidence based practices as a result of the grant.  Learning what does not work can prevent your police department from falling into the pit of no return on investment (ROI).  Every grant is intended to provide a return on investment in new ideas, new innovations, new policing strategies, reduced or prevented crime. Without that the grant funding becomes dust in the wind.

Happy New Year and Best Wishes with your grant endeavors in 2013

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