Fast Track Learning to Write Federal Grants with FOIA
Learn about the best kept secrets to writing and winning federal grants. You can strategically use the Freedom of Information Act to get copies of past successful grant applications.
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Here is the transcript created by magical unicorns:
So before we get rolling make sure you're hydrating and drinking, lots of water, and then any questions you have just drop them in the chat box. And I'm going to either interrupt Tara as she goes, or we'll grab them at the bottom. So that's how we'll, we'll roll with it. And then we will be sharing a replay. So take notes, but still recognize you will be able to watch the replay. And we have an aggregated list with all the resources we're referencing today that I will also email out in a PDF. So if you're feeling like your hand is cramping, it's all good. Cool. Well with that, let's cover the best kept secret to writing, winning, and federal grants. Tara, I'm going to pass this over to you.
Excellent. So thank you very much, Meredith for having me here today, we're going to talk about what the freedom of information act is and why you might use it in a grant writing you know, aspect of your life and how that would work, what it would look like and a few other considerations that you might want to think about. So my name is Tara O'Hanley and I am Alaska born and raised. I've lived lots of other places, but I keep on coming back home. I'll tell you a bit more about my history through the course of the webinar, but in general I have a training in science mostly biological and medical science, but also some social and psychological science. I've also worked as a director of business development, mostly for engineering firms. And now I'm a grant writer for rural communities for the most part in my free time. I like to dance and I'm learning how to drum.
Cool. I actually just learned something new then about you, because I did not know about the drumming details. We have weekly staff calls and so I think Tara, you're going to have to be, you know, show off your skills tomorrow at our call. Okay, awesome. And then just for anybody to that, we are actually opening this up. Usually these webinars are only for students of the program grant writing from start to fund it, but we thought this topic was just too hot, not to make available to everybody. So if you haven't really interacted with me much this is some quick background. So founded learn grant writing because I did not have anywhere to learn how to do it and how to be self-taught and wasted a lot of time and lost a lot of money, learning everything the hard way won about $42 million in grants. I now work remotely in Valdez, presently in a tent. I was raised as a cattle rancher in Wyoming. And when I'm not doing all of those things, I am definitely skiing and bicycling, but that being said, had shoulder surgery a couple of weeks ago. So that's actually why Tara is stepping up and doing this. Cause I didn't know how functional I would be, but just so everyone knows I'm pretty functional. So
So you yourself are in the right place. If you are working on federal grant applications and you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, it can certainly be Extraordinarily overwhelming. And it's also quite confusing. It's hard to know exactly what they're looking for and what they're asking for and your final product is generally can be 100 or 200 pages. So if you make certain mistakes in those 200 pages, your application might get thrown out entirely. They do have resolvable deficiencies, but not everything is a resolvable deficiency. And sometimes you don't know why you're not getting funded. And it takes a lot of time to put these grants together. The kind of general rule of thumb is that it takes about 200 hours to put them together, especially your first time. We don't want to waste time like that. We don't want to waste money. If you're like me, you're working with organizations that don't have a lot of resources and you want to make it as efficient as possible.
This is what you can use. The freedom of information act for. You can get copies of past successful applications. And this isn't as much of a cheat as you might think at first glance, because really what you're looking at is how a proposal is laid out and organized and how it's formatted. Again. Sometimes this is more confusing than it shouldn't be. The requirements can be very confusing. What are they looking for with such and such matrix? So just those nuts and bolts aspects of proposals is extraordinarily helpful to look at. You can also get a bigger picture idea of an overall strategy. What strategies are working with this funding agency or for this particular opportunity. And sometimes we're not winning because we simply don't know how to measure our outcomes at the end or our outputs. So looking at how other people have designed their projects is extraordinarily illuminative. Honestly, this is not easy. And we are often up against large corporations that have whole teams of professional grant writers who focus on these things full time. We'll touch on this a bit again later in the webinar, but the point is that this is not easy. You shouldn't feel bad about using this resource to begin, to try to level the playing field.
Question number one, what is the freedom of information act? And first of all, let me just apologize in advance. I am undoubtedly going to call the foia PFOA, which is a funding opportunity announcement and a word that we use all the time. FOIA is not PFOA. foia is the freedom of information act. And also I'm probably going to end up using this noun as a verb, like I'll say, Oh, just follow it, which we're given our probably annoyed people as well.
And so yeah, again, apologies in advance, but basically the freedom of information act exists to give us insight into what's happening with the federal government and to hold the government accountable for the ways that it spends basically taxpayer money. And it allows anybody to request information from any federal agency, there's also state level laws. There are nine general exemptions, but those are pretty specific. We'll touch on them a bit later in general, you really can request a lot of information from the government. It's a very important legal tool. It's used all the time with journalists and it does help increase the transparency. It's a fundamental tool of our demo.
For example, if you are curious how much money the city of Chicago spends on a holiday parade, you can file an open records request with the city for the details or say, you want to know how a college president spends his or her time. As long as that person isn't government official, you can ask for their official calendar. Why do we have the full FOIA?
So for this, let me just throw out a quick, thank you to the electronic frontier foundation. These people are great. If you're not familiar with them, we do have a link in the document that we're sharing with. You check these guys out. They're the ones who gave me the rundown on the history of the foyer and it was
So the foyer came to be not because of some like altruistic feeling from the overall federal government. In fact, it has come up against a lot of opposition for its entire history, but it was originally conceived of as a check on the federal government,
Check, again, worried, many members of the executive branch and presidents of both parties throughout its history have tried to defang it. So it's something that we really should be thinking about and constantly vigilant about it sometimes comes it can be controversial and some people are very down on it, but keep in the back of your minds, that there are very useful and helpful and important reasons why we have this law. It all began after world war II. So this really is a story of American patriotism. And after world war II, you know, the United States were kind of like prancing around. We thought we were everything. We just won. Two world Wars where the new world super power, but the lessons of the Wars were not quickly forgotten, including that of totalitarianism. And there were agents, you know representatives within our government who didn't want to see us fall down that slippery slope.
There was an appreciation for transparency and accountability in government at the same time that there's the steep rise in government secrecy and spending. They were really amping up the spending after the war for things like you know, nuclear war, all sorts of things like that. So a couple of stubborn people really dug their heels in and that's what gave us the freedom of information act. The person who I initially conceived of it was John Moss, a representative from California. And he was joined by another person who was Donald Rumsfeld. This is a name that might kind of ring some bells having to do with the Reagan and Bush, both Bush administrations. At this point, he was a representative from Illinois and these two teamed up in kind of a bipartisan way. And for the next 11 years, fought to try and make the foia law.
Meanwhile, every federal agency and department at the time, completely opposed it, they were really up against a lot of opposition and unfortunately president Johnson opposed the bill. But by that point, the Senate had passed their version of it. And it was very clear that the American people weren't going to accept anything less than this becoming a law. The house ended up passing the bill unanimously by a vote of 307 to zero. And at this point, Johnson knew that he was going to have to deal with it. He still drug his feet when he signed it into law, he actually did it in private. He retreated back to his ranch in Texas. He did sign it on the 4th of July in 1966, but in his signing papers, he went into quite a bit of detail about how he felt that it was unconstitutional at the end, though, he did include a line about how it's fundamental to an open society that we know what our government is up to.
So everything's good, right? No, that was not actually, it was a huge step forward, but what they came up with, wasn't a law that put enough teeth into actually being enforceable. So the government agencies basically just didn't have to comply with the law in the way that it was written. And it wasn't until 1974, which is an era that might kind of ring some bells in your brain, wherever you store information about the foil, because that was the time immediately after the Watergate scandal. And apologies for these screenshots. I know that the quality's not that great, but it gives you an idea of what a scandal it was, how much it really did impact people's faith in the federal government. And it was at this point that the foil became what it is today. So the Senate and house both introduced many new requirements and timeframes. They put in sanctions for wrongly withheld information. They waived fees for journalists and for public interest groups. So by now agencies only have 10 days in order to respond to a foyer request. They can't just drag it out forever with endless rejections. There's a formal process of appeals and it is actually quite a straight, straightforward and strong law.
Nevertheless, it continued to be kind of amended and modified. Like I say, every president has has tried to weaken it over the coming decades. President Ford in particular. So mr. Donald Rumsfeld was actually serving as Ford's chief of staff at the time. And his head of the justice department office of legal counsel was a gentleman by the name of Antonin Scalia, who you may have heard of both these people strongly opposed the bill and they encouraged the they encouraged for, to veto it. And ultimately he did veto it, but the Congress was having nothing of it and they overrode the veto.
And again, presidents continued to try and weaken it over the decades. Finally in 2016, the Obama administration did pass of the foyer improvement act, which created an online kind of central repository for requests, which we'll look at today. It also required all the agencies to update their outdated foia policies and put a 25 year limit on the withholding of any records that describe historic agency decision making all these things are very important. Still. Obama and Bush were both considered to have some of the most secretive administrations in history. So it's not a perfect law, but it does help a lot. That's the foil in a nutshell.
Awesome. Tara, I had no idea about all that history don't if you guys found that helpful history lesson, ask questions or comment that give a thumbs up, if you thought that was a good history lesson. That was really, really cool. Thank you for sharing that.
Yeah. Thank you. Okay. So how does it work? And for this, I think what we'll do is just go through quite a few examples. This is going to be a very practical webinar and I'm going to err, on the side of being general,
There's a message in the chat box and Meredith can tell me to unmute you if I have muted you and you don't want to. Yeah. Sounds good. Okay. So again, it's going to be more of a general conversation. One because honestly submitting a foyer request is pretty self-explanatory, it's not that complicated at the same time. It's very agency specific and there are a ton of agencies. They all do it differently. Sometimes even the departments within agencies will do it differently from each other. So it's kind of just a exercise and research where you're going to go down some rabbit holes. You've got to come up with questions. So I'm going to take you through about four examples showing you in general, what it looks like and how you can maybe circumvent some of the roadblocks that you might run into. And these examples are going to be less and less specific as we go on. So if it feels like I'm dragging us into some rabbit hole, just hold on. I promise I'll pull us out of it quickly and we won't go back into them.
I I'm going to head on over to foia.gov, which is where you're going to start most of your searches. And so for our first example, I'm going to go through, I've actually only used the foia one time, which was to, to be honest with you Meredith for that ICD BG, with the HUD. As I thought about it more deeply, those, I think I found online just from various resources online, I download it all remarkably open. I think in ways, because they're working with a lot of native Americans, they're really trying to teach people how to apply for grants. Other departments, such as the department of energy are a lot more secretive about things. And so that was where, what happened was a few years ago I transitioned into working with rural Alaska villages and mostly on large infrastructure projects to try and help communities become less reliant on diesel and install things like huge wind turbines and solar arrays to kind of integrate renewable energy into their systems. And the thing about rural Alaska communities and probably elsewhere in the nation and the world is that there just simply isn't a large enough economic base. There aren't enough people and those people do not have enough money to support very expensive things like healthcare, education, energy. And for those reasons, these places are often very underfunded. They're working really hard and they have to go after grants from foundations or from state and federal agencies. So,
Whereas I had worked on a lot of proposals in the private sector. This was really my first foray into large federal grants. And We were asking for was a lot, we were asking for millions of dollars to install 50 foot tall wind turbines in the middle of nowhere, with huge rotors at a place where they were never, the department of energy was never going to be able to check it out. So they're right in asking for all this backup, all this information, they really want to know that you have your ducks in a row. So we put a lot of time into filling out this is, this is the funding opportunity announcement, the PFOA from this year's DOE I've only printed out half of it because I'm familiar enough with it that I don't need the second half. But as you can see, there are a lot of rules and regulations. And we, I spent a couple of months with really very hardworking and talented colleagues.
And we put together what we thought was an excellent application. We had plenty of funding match. We could do our cost share. Everything was good. And we were pretty shocked when we didn't win and we didn't understand why. So, so we went back to the DOE and I highly suggest doing us. We went back and we said, why didn't we win? Can you give us any insight into that? And within a day, they did turn around and they sent a letter that was quite detailed. It was only about a page or two, but it did say what were our significant and minor strengths and weaknesses. This is very helpful, but still somewhat vague. So for example, one of the things they said was the technical volume fails to adequately address the economics of the project, leaving the financial sustainability of the project in question, and the project description is incomplete.
Specifically, the methodology is not described. The operation and maintenance plan is not discussed and barriers to success are not discussed. Okay. So good. Thank you. That's helpful. But we had thought that we'd done, done all that. So we started talking, talking with some people a little bit higher up in the DOE. One of whom gave us the genius idea to use the freedom of information act, to find out what other applications looked like. And we thought that was brilliant, but they're in B game began the challenge of how in world do we do this? I had no idea. So the first thing you're going to do is a Google search, right? Which will probably take you to foia.gov. This is really the first place Provides a bunch of information in terms of how to research, how to find the right agency. What happens next? We're going to go straight down to select an agency.
They say, okay, well, that's a little complicated. Which agency do you want? Which office now I know just from working through it that I want the full golden field office. But what if you didn't know that? What can you do? And where are you going to go from here? Right. Also once you, okay. So let's say you want to submit a foyer request to mr. Jason, you're going to go to the website. You're going to start your foyer request. What are you going to ask for you? Can't just say, Oh, give me every funded application for the past year. That could be a massive amount of work. And you're not going to be making any friends with this agency that you're trying to make friends with. You need details. What exactly do you want? So what you're going to do to find that is go to a place called USA, spending.gov. These guys highlight that in last year, the federal government spent nearly four and a half trillion dollars. This website is dedicated to showing us where those money's got spent. You can find out so much information here. This is really a great website. What we're going to do is start an advanced search.
I care about what's happening in Alaska. Those are the projects that are most relevant to me. And what I really want to know is not everything that the DOE has funded in Alaska. I can tell you that is a lot. What I want to know is what have they funded in relation to this particular funding opportunity? So again, from your FOLA, you're going to find the CFTA number every fall we'll have this. So the CFTA number for this opportunity, 81.087 renewable energy research. Yes. Thank you. So we're going to submit this search and it gives us, this is not correct. Let's see, I don't want 1800. What am I missing here? Two, two, two Alaska. Oh, I know what I missed. What I care about also is who the recipient was. I work specifically with government tribes.
This is still not exactly what I was looking for because we don't want city of Austin. So let's go to recipient location. Oh, shell Shaundra actually just called it out. She said there's a pull-down under governor. Oh, except it wasn't working. Yeah. Yeah. Right. You weren't getting the pull-down dork. Right. Very odd. So weird.
Shandra, have you used this before? Just curious. It's very weird. No, but it's amazing. Cool. Yeah. Just following along. Nice. Cause she works, works with the tribe too. So this will be really helpful for her programs.
Yeah. This is where you're going to find the information of, there you go. There you go. Cause you just have to hit the dropdown first. Yes, you do government. And then our CFD eight. So this is where you're going to find the information of other awards that have
One thing you might back up though, is people might not know where the CFTA number is. So you might describe like you, you know what grant you're going after, that's in grants.gov. It's in the fund guideline. So you have it on the front page of that funding guideline, right?
Yeah. And I'll talk a bit about grants.gov later when we wonder but might as well just do it really quickly now. So if you're wondering what the CFDA number is, let's just say You know, the name of the opportunity.
Yeah. I hit that second one. That's a good one. The energy technology deployment. That one should be good. There you go. That's it. Yeah.
So right there is where you find that CFDA number. You'll always be able to find that on grants.gov and I think we'll go through that again too.Okay. So this is kind of a treasure trove of information. It's pretty cool to bounce around and look at
Let's just for example, take a look at a gig village. So they received a grant from these people. You click on aggregate village, the recipient, and you can see how much money they've gotten over time, what those funding patterns were, which agencies have given them money which programs, which CFDAs they have received money under and things like that. So that's really interesting, not entirely helpful to us because it's still not enough information to insert into your foyer request. So going back, still staying with [inaudible], but go over here to be award ID, because that's going to be specific to this CFTA this funding opportunity. Okay, cool. Now we see you can get village received $2.7 million. They also contributed $2.4 million in order to create this next generation river power system, which is built for sustainability and durability. This is plenty of information with that description, these, this CFTA number, and It's helpful to include a recipient's DUNS number. This is plenty of information where you can then take this to the department of energy and say, I want more details on this. I would like to see what their grant application looked like.
So I encourage you to go through your list of results and really look at which programs, which projects are most similar to what you're working at, working on trying to narrow it down because you're going to end up paying for your foyer requests to get filled. And it can be pretty expensive. So I submitted on five and I ended up paying about $500. So you want to get it as kind of as specific as you can. So you find that information and then you go again, so let's just start [email protected] They tell us, Oh, department of energy is really confusing where you're going to go. Let's see. So at this point, Oh, I know, sorry. Okay. So back under your award ID, they have information about the agency that this, these are the links that you're going to use usually, especially for the department of energy to submit your foyer requests. So I'm going to the website here in general, everything foil is at the bottom of a webpage, all these types of like about us foia. And then you start reading through this. So basically what it's telling you is that you can mail in your request. You can submit it electronically and that's what we go through.
So, you know, you put in your name, all this information and then to describe the specific records that you see. The description that I'm going to put in is basically please provide copies of the grant applications and this won't be perfect, but submitted by recipient. You can get village Include their DUNS number Or funding opportunity, which again, you can get off of grants.gov, the funding opportunity number, or you can get it off your funding opportunity announcement. That's not entirely accurate actually, because this is the current funding opportunity number. Instead of doing that, I would say, go ahead and put in CFDA number. That makes sense. So for maybe you can say like under CFTA dada for project, I think that they have numbers. They've got like
Yeah. I'm not there anymore. Believe that they have project numbers in, This is your project number right here. So here in USA, spending.gov, basically just finding as much specific information as you can and put all of that into your request for project that, to the say, titled XYZ,
You're going to tell them what, what preferred format you want, whether you want it faxed to you emailed. So I'm going to say electronic, they'll communicate with you before they actually fill it. But then you have to tell them what type of request are you are? This is part of the freedom of information act law. Because like I say, certain groups like journalists and public interest groups don't have to pay fees. So if you're an individual seeking information for personal use and not commercial use, that's not really us. I'm using it for commercial use because I'm writing grants. I'm also not an educational facility being used for scientific purpose. I am actually affiliated with a private corporation seeking information. So this is going to be what I select because I'm not a representative of the news media because I'm affiliated with a private corporation.
I have to tell them who I am, who I'm with. And then you say, do you agree to pay fees? If you need expedited processing, this is again, part of the law. You can get expedited processing, but you have to prove that, or, you know, you have to submit evidence that this, you have a reason for it. Like it's an imminent threat to the government or to physical safety of an individual. Most likely you're not going to need expedited processing for our purposes. And then you submit and again, they'll get in contact with you. They'll email, you they'll say, Oh, actually this is going to be quite expensive. Do you want paper copies? Do you want, they ended up sending me. I only requested electronic copies, but they ended up sending me a thumb drive as well as all the hard copies. And it took approximately four months.
Go ahead and talk about the cost. I know that that was, I think that's in the slide deck, but we've got some questions about it. Yeah. so I may have taken out that slide, basically what it comes down to is how basically how many pages slide 29 it looks like, and this is not a great resolution, but you're either you're probably going to pay by the page and also by the hour. So it's not like people from the department of energy can just snap their fingers and suddenly have all the answers to the questions that you're looking for. It's going to take them some time to find it. That's why you want to provide as much detailed information as possible. Because if you don't provide enough, they're going to bounce it back to you. They're going to say you haven't given us enough.
They can maybe try and steamroll you through that. Once they have enough information, they're still going to charge you probably by the hour for their time researching it and putting it all together. And then once you print it out or even for the electronic documents, you can also get charged by the page. This again, depends on what type of request or you are. So this is from DBA. I can't remember what agency that is. Some federal agency called DDA is where I found this. But for example, they charge an average rate of $42 per hour. Basically it's the hourly rate of the employee plus their indirects for whatever takes duplications 10 cents a page. So that's for commercial. If you remember the news media, they're not going to charge you for searching or research but they will charge you to duplicate it. So this is, again, going to be very specific to whichever agency that you're looking for or information from, but that's kind of in general, how it works. Does that answer?
Yeah. Super answers. The question question though, would a nonprofit be considered educational institution or are they considered a commercial use? That's an excellent question. Let me see.
Yeah. I just wanted to look at what the options were here. I guess I've gotten out of it. What are the options individual? No. Yeah, I think we're going to have to follow up on that one. I don't know. I would say, I don't know. What do you think Meredith? And you can always try it and they can bounce it back to you if they don't want to do it for free. Yeah, totally. One question too is like, does the price change based on the formatting, you know, electronic versus receiving it in paper format? Do we know?I don't know. I can't imagine that I would have asked them for paper copies, but I got paper copies and that was expensive. So I would, I would say like in general that it is going to cost more, if you want paper copies, that's the 10 cents per page duplication.
Yeah. And maybe even just including like no paper copy, like explicitly, no paper copies required only digital needed or something could help clarify that. So you don't get stuck with a charge. And then what, so people have an idea. What did you pay for your most recent four request?
Right. So the other aspect of this in terms of the pages, even if you're not getting a hard copy is that they still have to go through page by page, by page and often get with the applicant original applicant to see what information needs to be redacted. And again, we'll talk about this later, but that's part of the reason why they are charging you by page. So for my foyer request, like I said, I, I asked for specific parts of five different grant applications, this total of approximately 500 pages of information and it costs about $500 with all the search and all the all that time.
Okay. Did everyone catch that? So just as sort of an example, so it's not cheap for sure. So you want to be really strategic about it and make sure that you're really, really putting in a specific request for exactly what you want with all of those details. One last question, before we move on and then I know we need to, it's just, I presume that what's being charged changes a little bit depending on the department, or is that a base standard that set There, as far as I know, there's not a base standard,Right. Because it's always based on the hourly rate of the person doing the work. Right. So it's going to fluctuate based on who they assign that to. Exactly. Yeah. Okay. So what I thought sweet carry on.
Moving on to our next example. This won't take as long, but I've been procrastinating. I really need to submit a report through the U S department of agriculture because they fund a big program for high energy costs that I apply to each and every time they offer it
Because this is, I've been kind of putting it off because I know that the department that does this is rural development. I know the woman who runs the project, I know that she's working extraordinarily hard. She's really, really busy. And I'm worried that my request is going to put more burden on her. So I definitely don't want to ask when she's in the midst of collecting applications or when she's in the midst of reviewing them, I want to be somewhat strategic about when I ask her to put in her time doing this. And so that's a big part of the reason why it's taken me awhile, what I'm going to do when I do it is again, I'll go to foia.gov. I'll search for the department of agriculture, foia.gov is going to tell me, Oh, they don't actually use foia.gov for this agency. You can go directly to their online submission form.
And the reason I point this out is because I'm very impressed with the USDA. I think it's a well-run agency for the most part, from my experience, they have some pretty interesting information here. And again, in the handout that we're providing you, there's a link to a video it's just a nice seven minute video that gives you a good overview of what the foyer process looks like for them specifically. But it's also interesting on a general level. So always take the time to read what these agencies are telling you about what they want you to do before you go submitting your application. One of the reasons is because almost all of them have foyer reading rooms. They have libraries where you can find all sorts of information that they've already posted. You don't want to make them mad by making them go after it again, here again, there's the foia fee schedule. Let's see what the USDA has for that. Yeah. This is some antiquated
So you can go through that if you're interested, but what was the point that I wanted to talk to you here? There is they have a really cool library.
Doubt will be how you actually submit your request. The records you seek may already be here. So, yeah, sorry if I'm taking this down another rabbit hole, but what, there was something here that,
It takes us all back to this. So yeah, basically what I wanted to point out was just the occupational hazard of the fact that you want to be sensitive to the time of the agency that you're asking for information from. And but once you do submit it, you're going to sign in with their particular system. You're going to go back to USA spending.gov
And try and find, I don't know if it's worth going through this again. There were a couple of points that kind of became interesting, but I don't know if we have time for that right now. So yeah, I think we're running out of time, but it is good to know. I think emphasizing just that there is difference in every department and so really take your time making sure you understand the department that you're pursuing. Exactly. Okay. So for our third example, let's say that you don't know a lot of details. You've never really applied to this program. You've just heard that there is that there is something being offered for native Americans, but you don't have any idea where to start. One of the other websites you're going to find on our PDF is usa.gov, which is this kind of centralized clearing house for any question that you might have about the federal government and in the interest of time, we're going to go straight to government agencies and elected officials, this business about grants. Not very interesting, but here you can find under government agencies, you can find an a to Z index of agencies. Oh, okay. So looking through here, we see cool. There's an associate administration for native Americans. Again, this is just the process you're going to go through. If you don't really know what you're looking for, you have very broad and general search, so let's go check those guys out.
Again, go down to the bottom to see what you can see. They do have a link on foil, but they also have program areas. And since you're kind of new to all this, you might click, what is the social and economic development strategies, computers moving slow,
Or the native language strategies that you just did a grant for lots of time doing. Yep. It's cool here. Like I say, this is a, it's a HUD agency. They have active grants in social and economic development strategies. So this is awesome because they're not, this is not exactly a page that's giving us the total proposals, but it is telling us who won what they're doing. What their period is, how much they won. So this is the information that you can then submit into your foyer request. You can say, Oh, this, that, and the other is really relevant to me. These are the ones I'm going to ask for. So that just saves you a bunch of time. These, this agency HUD also has on your PDF, you'll see a link tool. They have examples of their highest scoring proposals for certain years. So if you're looking for HUD money, you're kind of in a good place, you have a lot of support for those grant applications on the other end of the spectrum. What if you're looking for information from the national institutes of health, this is where things start to get a little bit hairy, right?
Okay. So we're going to go to foia.gov Type in agency name national institutes of health.So I can tell you from experience that academic medical researchers are very detail oriented. They're also very competitive this along with the department of energy, these are places where we're really starting to get into patents, trade secrets very, very competitive funding opportunities and a lot of big money. So over the past 10 years, the NIH has received over 13,000 requests for grant proposals and about 20 to 30% of those in 2015 and 2016 came from requests for other academic institutions. And this is even higher at the NSF, the national science foundation. They're about, they've gotten fewer requests, but about half of them have been from academia. So the reason that that's important is yes, some people are looking for what a successful grant application looks like, but some contingent of these people are, they want to go through the grant proposal in detail to see what their competitors are up to.
So that's why things really kind of start to get a lot more sensitive when you're dealing with the NIH, the NSF that's the bigger picture. I lived in this world for about six years. I was a in a fully funded PhD program. I had a scholarship that I did research assistantships. I was a researcher at the Harvard mind body Institute and also was a coauthor on several peer reviewed studies with the heart, with Harvard medical school. So I can tell you from firsthand experience that you really want to tread lightly when you're dealing with these things take your time, think long and hard about whether you can possibly get this information in another way. Ideally find the grant researchers that you're interested in working with and reach out to them, become friends. The reason I say that is because when NIH gets your requests, what they're going to do is go directly back to the person who wrote that proposal.
And they're going to say, Hey, this person, Tara, O'Hanley, they're going to give your name once a copy of this proposal. And that researcher is probably the hair on their back of their neck is probably going to stand up. Like, why are they asking for this? They're going to take their own time going through and redirecting as much information as they possibly can. Any thing having to do with numbers, anything proprietary. They're going to take that out of there. And they're not going to forget your name, right. So do you kind of tread lightly when you're going through this, but
Yeah, there, that is so valuable and I'm really glad that you brought that up. Not to just be like freewheeling this tool, because I always advocate for making the ask because the worst thing that could happen is someone says, no, that's it. Or they don't, they ignore you. And we've always had a lot of luck getting people to share proposals, especially when we're like, Hey, if we're pursuing anything that you want, we're happy to provide a copy as well. Absolutely. And especially if they've already been funded it's like, Hey, you've already been awarded it feel, you know, sometimes that helps as well. And so just being kind of unapologetic about, or don't be bashful, just reaching out and making that ask first is always going to be cheaper and faster and more friendly than necessarily going down this route. Absolutely good topic to bring up.
Yeah. so if you do want to look into the NIH, you're going to search for it and they are going to tell you to visit the agency's website. From here, the other thing is that the NIH and the NSF put a ton of information online. So it's very possible. You don't even need to submit one of these things because you can find it out on your own for the NIH. Their awesome tool is report. No, I said, we're not going to go down a long rabbit holes here. It's only because we are appearing into the largest rabbit hole in existence. This thing is awesome. You can go through and that's awesome. Let's say for the NCI, which I don't even know which Institute that is 2020, you want to know what they did that year. Very simple submit, this takes a minute. I did it earlier. Oh, it's not going to let me do it from earlier. So
It already came up. Cool. So this is everything that the NCI has funded in 2020. Look at this information that you can find. So just taking this first example, understanding the influence of bone metastatic prostate cancer. Okay. Yeah. That is very relevant to what I'm doing. Cool. Look at this very detailed abstract text. There's the type of things that you're going to get when you look up the journal citation, right? Any results that have come out of it will be posted here. This is where you're going to find the DUNS number, which you can search on things like USA, spending.com to find out what people from this DUNS number have gotten funded in the past. You can also find similar projects, people who are coordinating with them, look at this long list of similar projects, find out exactly how much money they got dr. Lynch. So, like I say, rabbit hole of all rabbit holes, you really can find out a ton of information. And I believe it also has contact information for those researchers. So it might be exactly how you just want to reach out and say, listen, this is very related to what I'm doing. So I think that's about all I had to say about that. What questions can I answer?
There's not any presently, but we've, I've been asking them as we've been going. So yeah, if you guys have been holding on to any questions, be sure to throw those in the chat box And specifically about the NIH. What what is it that you are? What kind of information are you looking for if you're into, if you're Brandon Hill. Got it. You got a specific question. Happy to take it. I, yeah, I don't have a specific question, but I was just in the rabbit hole of NIH writing grants. And I definitely took a lot of value out of the, the thing that you just pulled. And that's how I was able to find different kinds of POS for my, that actually
Have been awarded and how helped out those organizations and scientists. So it's definitely a really good source of research. Awesome. Yeah. Sweet, cool. Well let's, should we pop to we're four minutes from top of the hour. Should we see if we missed anything in slides, slides, yeah. Hand. And while you're doing that, does any department come to mind for what would be helpful for historic preservation perhaps using that lit that, that list we just went through where you had all of the different us agencies and going through their historic preservation, what do you mean? What would be a department that's helpful for historic preservation? There are, I don't know. We would have to, what was that website that you literally just had up that you linked to the Ana with? Yeah. So that's called usa.gov.
Yeah, that's right. So yeah, that's what we'd recommend. There is just go, go there and just kind of cruise through that list to see what you can find that's related to historic preservation, right. With the a to Z index of,
So the only other thing I'd say is yes. Be careful what you, what you ask for because you are swatting, the hornet's nest. Another thing to think about is you can be on the other side of that. So be conscientious as you're writing your own grant applications to not put in a lot of proprietary, confidential information that you don't want shared with other people, any information that you do put in, be sure and include a footer. This is on our PDF that just says, this is confidential. This is sensitive. That will kind of flag those pages to be sure that the agency contacts you before they release that information. So make it very clear if you don't want to use also, like I say, be aware that it takes a while. It can take several weeks for these to get fulfilled. And if you're already staring down a deadline, it's really not. You're not probably going to be able to get this information in time. Right. For the next time it's offered, you know, build up your own library and yeah, it can be expensive. So I think those were my main points to talk about.
Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. Can you pop to the slides real quick? Just so we can make sure we got them all, but that sample language of email that you can send is included in the PDF and sample language to put in the footer of your narrative, if you don't want it to be, if you want to be flagging it as confidential information. So all that stuff you guys will get soon. Awesome. See, yeah. So I think we got through those. How long does it take? How much does it cost? We get did all that. Cool.
Yeah. How common is this? Lots of people do it. They could be, have good intentions or not. And again, if you don't want to go through all this, look through your surgical databases ask friends and colleagues go to the agency websites. They can have a lot of information and there are grant consultants who specialize specifically in this. So feel free to do group Google search of those grant consultants.
Yep. A hundred percent. And for whatever it's worth, our culture around here is to share, because maybe we'll have a proposal that we need to do that you've done before. So if you get the chance to help each other out as part of this community of grant writers please do I know that I, I have an open, transparent, like mindset towards things. That's actually kind of how Tara and I got connected and you can actually click in that cool little clock will show up one more swipe. One more click. Yeah. Yeah. Isn't that cute graphics. We had way too much fun.
Meredith open, transparent attitude was transformational for me again, coming from academia, coming from private sector and even the very competitive nature of the grants that I'm playing for now, people can be so, so secretive. But Meredith just had this very open attitude, which has seriously, it's transformed my life. It's made me want to work with her and have more openness in my own grant writing. So I encourage you to ask the questions of your agencies, ask questions of your peers, and don't be afraid to share because nobody's going to steal. If they, if you've had the idea, you've already written it all out, you've written your grant application. Nobody's going to be able to steal that from you and run with it, right.
No one is going to have the passion for what you do than what you guys do. That's just all there is to it. Yeah. Totally sweet. Any questions in the group? Chat, throw them in there. If you have any lingering questions. I would say that it's hard to say if there's a backlog of requests bill since coronavirus hit, but I would think we could speculate. There might be because it's just, they're not in the office and they're having to do it virtually. So I suspect there could be somewhat of a backlog. Yeah,
That's exactly what I've found on the agency websites. A lot of them say that our staff are working from home is going to take longer than that. Right. So always just getting ahead of it. And I think that's why it's so important when we preached putting together a funding strategy and knowing exactly what grants you want to pursue ahead of time. So if you are going to go down this path, you've got that runway. You know, you're not applying for six to nine months and you can take care of this now, strategically. So right on quote, well, everybody, we will get this recording posted online and email you out the replay. I know I had a couple of people that dropped in a little bit late and wanted to catch the first part and that PDF. So be sure to save a copy of that when you get that email from us and a little bit, and I think that is it Tara, you rock. Thank you for all of the education.
It was so fun to be a student, not the educator loved it. We're blowing you up in there. Thank you in gratitude. So that's that Carol says, thank you. Great presentation. Bonnie says thank you as well. Lots and lots of gratitude, right on sweet. Well, that's it. If you all have a topic request, please feel free to hit us with that because I'm always looking for stuff that's relevant to you. And we do this the last Wednesday of every month. So right on, well, everybody have an awesome rest of your week and we will catch you later. Thanks for joining us. Thank you so much.