California Fire Safe Council Grant Clearinghouse Staff Activities
Members of the California Fire Safe Council staff administer and document the application and funding process for federal fire prevention funding that is made available through the grants clearinghouse.
The grants clearinghouse cycle:
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The Clearinghouse typically opens the call for applications in December of each year and closes it in February. However, this timeline is flexible as circumstances may arise that impact the information needed to prepare applications. Once CFSC releases a request for proposals, grant managers hold grant writing workshops to familiarize applicants with the application process and project guidelines.
Steps that an applicant should take during this time are:
- Ensure you have “legal standing” *, or if you don’t, that you have a “fiscal sponsor” that will accept the funds on your behalf.
- Align your project priorities with your relevant fire plan or CWPP
- Research budget costs and get preliminary bids if necessary; and
- Confirm your organization has the staffing, infrastructure, and “capacity” to manage a new grant or grants.
*Legal Standing: By definition, state and local government organizations have legal standing. If you are a Non-Profit, For-Profit, or Other organization, you must be incorporated to do business in the State of California and have a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you don’t, then you must identify an organization with legal standing that will act as your organization’s “fiscal sponsor” to administer the grant funds for you.
Applicants submit proposals by the application deadline, including any required accompanying documents such as letters of commitment and fiscal sponsor agreements. The clearinghouse administrator tracks the incoming applications and organizes them for comments by field reviewers and the volunteer review committee. The review committee selects the projects that will receive funding.
During this time, the executive director coordinates the application for master grant funding. Master grant funds from the federal land management agencies including the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service are used to make the sub grants to clearinghouse applicants.
The organizations with proposals that have been selected for funding are notified and prompted to submit a “grantee report” with additional information in order to be eligible to receive funds.
The information requested from grant recipients includes the following:
- Maps if your project is ground-disturbing
- Proof of Insurance (may be purchased with grant funds)
- Board of Directors Contact List
- Tax exempt status confirmation letter (if applicable)
- Copies of two years most recent tax forms
- Any recent audit reports and findings
- Copy of by laws (non-profits only)
During this time grant managers offer pre-award training to provide additional information on grant requirements such as periodic progress reporting, identifying allowable and non-allowable costs, requesting prior approvals for staff changes, scope changes or extensions, and documenting matching contributions.
Following receipt of the grantee reports the CFSC creates the sub awards for funded grants. This may take anywhere from 4-12 months from initial notification of funding status. Recipients can begin work on projects after the grant period start date once the sub award agreement is signed and the environmental review process is complete. Environmental review requirements must be met before ground disturbing work can begin. The grantee support coordinator assists with the environmental review process for federal grants, ensuring that maps for fuels management projects have been received from all recipients and submitted to the federal funding agencies, and that information from the federal environmental reviewers is communicated to the project managers.
Payments to recipients are requested by grant managers based on the payment and match schedule that is included with the sub award agreement. Payment depends on the receipt of funds from the federal agencies. The business manager assembles requests for payments to recipients and provides regular reports to grant managers on the status of grant payments so that recipients can be informed of when funds will be transferred.
Project work is completed during the grant period. As grant recipients complete progress reports online, the accomplishments are included in periodic reports that the information analyst submits to the funding agencies. Grant managers make site visits to the recipient organizations to meet with project managers, review the management of grant funds, and view project accomplishments.
When the grant period is complete, the closeout process begins. Documents that are submitted by recipients as part of the closeout process include the following:
- A final Progress Report
- A mandatory Grant Close-Out Report and an optional Confidential Questionnaire
- Photos from photo-monitoring work, if applicable
- Copies of all education and outreach materials created with grant funds
- Any unused surplus funds must be returned.
- Interest in excess of $250 must be returned ($100 if you are with a public/government agency)
- A CD containing the complete grant file, when requested
- Documentation regarding disposition of property, if applicable
When projects are completed recipients are encouraged to write success stories or news articles about their project successes that can be shared with the surrounding community, lawmakers, funding agencies, and other fire prevention organizations.