Frequently Asked Questions

For detailed information on the current grant cycle, see the Request for Applications (RFA) available at http://www.cafiresafecouncil.org/2015-grant-program/. The RFA contains program descriptions, eligibility information, application deadlines and other resources.

How do I access and apply to the California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) Grants Clearinghouse?
The CFSC Grants Clearinghouse is an online grant program. Prospective applicants must first create a free online account in ZoomGrants, our new online grant software, to begin the process. To create an account, choose “Apply For a Grant” and then “2015 Grants (ZoomGrants login)”. You will be prompted to create an account if you do not already have one. It is strongly recommended that you download and read the Request for Applications (RFA) and the Grant Application Training handbook available on the website. These documents outline the many rules and requirements of the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse and offer insight into developing a competitive grant application.

How can I get help?
Refer to the contacts page in the Grant Application Training handbook for grant manager contact information, call California Fire Safe Council at (866) 372-2543 or go to http://www.cafiresafecouncil.org/contact-a-grant-manager/ for additional contact information.

What is the difference between the “2015 Grants (ZoomGrants login)” and “Closed Grant Programs” ?

Use the “2015 Grants (ZoomGrants login)” to apply for the current Grant Clearinghouse cycle. In 2014, CFSC transitioned to ZoomGrants, which will be used for grant cycles 2014 and later. The ZoomGrants system enables the application to be submitted completely online with a feature for uploading the required documentation to your application. The “Closed Grant Programs” is still being used for the 2013 cycle grantees, and remains open so that account holders can login and download applications from previous cycles.

 Can I move my old clearinghouse grants into the ZoomGrants system?

No. Applications from the previous clearinghouse system cannot be moved to the ZoomGrants system automatically. You may login to the old clearinghouse system and download a pdf of your previous applications for reference.

 Can my organization have multiple accounts?

No. Accounts are based on your organization name, so each organization may only have one account. Multiple email addresses can be linked to one account if you wish to have multiple people notified of account activity.

 How will the information I submit online be protected?
Your user name and password limit who can see your information. It’s your choice whether to share your user name and password with others. Only those with your username and password can access your account.

 Why does the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse exist?
The CFSC Grants Clearinghouse is a program of the California Fire Safe Council. It is an online grant application process that makes it easier to find and apply for wildfire prevention grants to support community projects. Originally, federal agency members of the California Fire Alliance and CFSC Board of Directors spearheaded the development of the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse to assist in the achievement of the National Fire Plan by facilitating an open, collaborative process for grant funding. The CFSC Grants Clearinghouse expanded the playing field to more organizations by making it easier to find and apply for grants. It increased the collaboration among agencies because shared information and facilitated planning across agency boundaries demonstrated California’s needs and accomplishments to Congress.

Why does the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse only accept grant applications online?
Online applications control costs and reduce the amount of paper involved in grant writing. The CFSC Grants Clearinghouse also reflects the federal government’s focus on electronic government and simplifying the grants process. The Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act calls for improving the effectiveness and performance of Federal grant programs; simplifying grant application and reporting requirements; improving the delivery of services to the public; and facilitating greater coordination among those responsible for delivering such services.

 What is the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse process?

Under the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse, there is one deadline each cycle for all available funding. The applications give CFSC’s review committee the information they need to make preliminary funding recommendations.  Projects that are selected for funding will move on to second phase where applicant organization must provide additional information about their organizational capacity and eligibility. Projects that are not selected will remain on a hold list for consideration if additional funding becomes available later in the year.

 How does the CFSC Grants Clearinghouse help government agencies?

The CFSC Grants Clearinghouse provides an efficient process by which agencies can meet their grant program objectives.  CFSC manages the grant application process, funding process, documentation and reporting which reduces the need for agency staff and resources to be focused on grant management.

What is the funding cycle?
Although there is one deadline for grant applications, funding organizations have different funding cycles. Applicants whose projects are selected for funding will be notified of the appropriate cycle. In general, CFSC manages grants that last between 18-24 months. Applicants should be aware that funding is contingent upon congressional appropriations for federal grant programs. In some cases a project may be selected for funding, yet if appropriations are lower than anticipated, CFSC may not be able to fund that project or reduce the funded amounts.

What are the scoring criteria and who makes the funding decisions?
An initial review will determine if a project can be considered for funding based on the initial screening and scoring criteria contained in the Request for Applications (RFA).

Applications completing the Initial Screening will then be reviewed by the grant review committee—an independent, volunteer panel of experts with varied backgrounds who have expertise in reviewing grants and in wildland fire protection issues.

During the review process, the grant review committee uses the scoring criteria listed in the RFA to score the projects, but that is not the only determining factor. Program requirements, budget, the need for a competitive process and reasonable geographic distribution are also used in the project selection.

The grant review committee recommends projects to the CFSC Board who approves a list of projects to move forward in the pre-award process. At that time, applicant organizations and fiscal sponsors must provide certain documents and certifications and undergo an organizational capacity risk assessment prior to receiving final approval of their grant. Until they receive a grant agreement from CFSC, they have not been officially approved for a grant award.

For more information on capacity see the grant pre award process resources in the grant application handbook.