Increase Your Readiness for Grants

By Stephanie L. Jones, AWS grants leader for justice & public safety

When pursuing a grant, the details may make the difference between receiving an award or being denied.

With two major grants that are or will be available to your agency this year, it’s essential to prepare now for the best chance at success.

Executive Order 13929

As a reminder, you must be compliant with Executive Order 13929 to apply for most Department of Justice (DOJ) grants.

A new detail that agencies should be aware of is that to be eligible for any DOJ discretionary grant funding, your law enforcement agency must have been certified by an approved independent credentialing body or have started the process by January 31, 2021.

To become certified, you must meet two conditions:

  1. Your use-of-force policies must adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
  2. Your use-of-force policies must prohibit chokeholds except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.

If you fail to meet these requirements (or prove that you meet these requirements), your agency will not be funded.

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)

JAG is one of the oldest grants available to law enforcement agencies, but did you know there are two JAG programs? There is a local program and a state program.

Local JAG programs:

The application guide and allocation list for FY21 are now out, so check the local allocation list to see if your city or county is listed. If so, research who within your city or county currently applies for the grant and how you can get your share of the funds.

Before you apply:

  • Have a project in mind
  • Estimate the project’s cost
  • Know why the project or purchase is a critical priority for your jurisdiction

You may be competing with other public safety agencies, so the more details you can give about your project, its impact on the community, and its cost, the better position you will be in to compete for these dollars.

Note: The local solicitation will be applied directly to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

State JAG programs:

If you don’t see your city or county on the list, you’ll need to check your State Administrative Agency (SAA) for application information and deadlines. These will vary by state.

If you have to apply to the state, build a relationship with the person managing the JAG. If they are open to a phone call to chat about projects, take the initiative to get on their calendar.

If they are not open to a meeting, find other ways to build a relationship. For example, attend informational webinars and follow up with a thank-you note. If you had previously funded projects, send them a follow-up to let them know how the grant you received benefited your community.

For the state application, pay attention to the eligibility details and what the grant aims to fund.

There is nothing worse than applying for a grant you are not eligible for or putting hours into an application only to have your project denied because it does not align with your state’s priorities for grant funding.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

With many organizations losing considerable funding due to the recent decline in revenue, one of the newest grants may be able to fund your project.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds were approved through the American Rescue Plan, and those dollars should already be flowing to your city or county.

To capitalize on this grant, you first need to evaluate how your programs align with the priorities for funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Remember, details matter.

The three areas most likely to align with law enforcement needs are:

  1. Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harm to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector.
  2. Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to make up for the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic.
  3. Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who continue to bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.

Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, the technology you wish to purchase, and how it might align with one of the three priorities above.

Next, if you don’t already know, figure out who is responsible for controlling the funds. Do they have a process for distributing the dollars, and if so, what is their timeline for funding requests?

Draft an overview of your project, making the case for why your need is critical in protecting and serving your citizens. Be specific. Use data. Describe in detail current shortfalls or safety issues that are likely to arise if you don’t have the requested solutions.

You must advocate for your department. Make sure you have a seat at the table and a clear understanding of what is required to successfully secure funding.  

Be ready when your city or county starts distributing the funds. You don’t want to be last to the game or be caught without the details of your project.

Other grant programs

If your project doesn’t align with the priorities of these programs, don’t give up hope. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) release new grants consistently.

Go to their websites, scroll through the grants (both open and closed), and see if one aligns with your project. Download the grant solicitation and pay attention to the details of what BJA or COPS are seeking when awarding funding for the program.

If you’ve missed the deadline to submit, don’t worry. It’s never too early to start working on your next grant application. Pay attention to the required details of the proposal narrative, partnerships that need to be in place, and data that make a case for your need.

In the end, no matter which grant you are seeking, you’ll have better chances of getting funding if you provide data-driven details, are specific about your need, and connect it to solving a problem in your community.

Stephanie L. Jones
Grants Leader, Justice and Public Safety

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Posted on Jul 1, 2021