Thursday, September 21, 2006

#17: OJJDP Provides Updated Juvenile Statistics

Writing a grant that targets at-risk youth? Any youth, for that matter. Need statistics? This OJJDP report deserves your attention.

"Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report"

The report offers a wealth of statistics on juveniles. The first chapter sets the stage with a good overview of all children and adolescents including state comparisons.

You can use it to put together a good baseline to compare with your target population.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

# 16: Does Anyone Around Here Read?

Long ago, I gave up expecting grant prep team members to read the RFP. Yes, some conscientious individuals will. But most won't. They're busy running programs, as they should be. Grant applications get sandwiched in. Why be disappointed or frustrated with them? Compensate.

I start the grant writing process with a 1 or 2 page (max) summary which includes the funders goals and requirements followed by bulleted questions for the team to consider, or the program content already under discussion. I aim to make the document one someone can scan in less than five minutes.

It's worth the effort. It helps fix the funder's agenda in my mind. It guarantees we have easily referenced requirements in front of everyone as we plan. And it serves as the basis of the background material we provide to people who agree to provide letters of support. (More about those letters another time.)

Does Anyone Around Here Read? Not the RFPs! But why worry?

# 15: 'To Be or Not ...' - How to Avoid 'To Be'

I always learn a lot I can apply to grant writing when I read Daphne Gray-Grant's e-newsletters. Avoiding forms of 'to be' has been etched on my brain, but I never thought to use this editing technique she recommends.
I use "control + F" to help me find BAD things in my writing, and eliminate them. For example, I go on a search and destroy mission for all forms of the verb "to be." To do this, I hit "control + F" and type the word "is" in the handy-dandy little box. Then I hit, "find next." The software then takes me methodically through my story or article, highlighting every time I've used the word "is." One by one, I then try to replace each "is" with a more interesting verb. And then, if I'm feeling energetic, I do exactly the same thing with: were, was, are, will be.
If you're interested in subscribing to her newsletter, you'll find it here. She sends short, useful tips wrapped in good stories.

# 14: Apply the KISS Principle to Grant Writing

It's a great temptation to reach for long, scholarly words to impress grant evaluators. Anything to prove our clients are smart and worthy. But, STOP!

Daniel Oppenheimer, at Princeton, says,
"Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers' evaluations of the text and its author."
His research,
Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly, found people rated the intelligentce of authors who wrote in simpler language, using an easy to read font, as higher than those inserting unnecessary complexity. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology 2005

His conclusion-
"One thing seems certain: write as simply and plainly as possible and it's more likely you'll be thought of as intelligent."
So, colleagues, Keep It Simple, Smarty!

'ScienceDaily: The Secret Of Impressive Writing? Keep It Plain And Simple: