States Jump on Stimulus Grant Train
By Mikel Chavers, CSG Associate Editor
State grants staff may be a little busier than usual these days.
And even though a lot of the federal government agencies haven’t gotten many specifics about available grants out yet, that hasn’t kept some states from lining things up to seize the opportunities once details are out.
“The process is different for each grant program,” said Linda Barth, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment. “A lot of these programs haven’t gotten the main details out yet—we’re waiting.”
But in the meantime, Wisconsin is lining things up for various projects around the state so the state can apply for as many stimulus grants as possible as soon as the details are out. The Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment is coordinating the whole effort and working with other state agencies to make sure applications are turned in on time and deadlines are met.
“We can continue to work on designing the projects and getting them ready to go,” Barth said.
For example, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle wants to phase out coal at the Charter Street Heating plant in Madison, Wis., so the plant runs entirely on biofuels instead of burning coal, Barth said.
Doyle announced in February his commitment to stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“We’re working to put in new boilers that burn biofuels—we think that we might qualify for a grant, but in the meantime, the project takes a lot of design work,” Barth said.
The Charter Street Biomass Project using the new biomass boiler will be capable of burning up to 100 percent biomass—which includes sources such as wood chips and switchgrass pellets, according to the press release. The plant will eventually burn an estimated 250,000 tons of biomass per year, the press release said.
There are three types of grant funding through the stimulus: formula, block and competitive, according to Ericka Harney, fund development coordinator for The Council of State Governments and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Association of Grant Professionals.
Information is available for grants with funding from the Recovery act is available at www.grants.gov.
“The competitive, which is what is the majority of the postings on grants.gov, is not first come, first served,” Harney said. “If you apply by the deadline, all those applications that are complete and have correct information go to peer review panels for scoring against criteria. The applications with the highest scores get funding.”
But, she said, a state could still receive a high score and not receive funding.
And because local governments are often eligible for grant funds from the Recovery Act, another state—Washington—updated its recovery Web site to provide links to sources of stimulus money and contact information local governments can use to find out how to apply for funds.
According to a press release from Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office, the contact information local governments can use to apply for money is especially important.
“Because each fund source will have unique criteria that must be met by the applicant, local projects will need to follow the application process each agency has established to be considered for funding,” Victor Moore, director of the state’s Office of Financial Management, said in the press release.
“Since the timelines for distributing funds are generally very short, I encourage organizations with projects to contact the relevant agency as soon as possible to find out what you need to do to apply.”
For federal agencies that have released details on available stimulus grants—and there are a few so far—go to StateRecovery.org and click on grants.