Grant Writing as Storytelling

I realized the other day that one reason I do not have quite as much free time for creative writing is because I have done so much other writing the past eighteen months. The bulk of the writing has been communicating with my congregation, but some of it has been grant writing. Lutheran Disaster Response decided to disburse COVID relief funds through the synods. In 2020, I wrote a grant to help four Trinity New Hope families who had been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Later, I wrote a grant for direct assistance for the Nampa schools Family Community Resource Centers (including the one at neighboring West Middle School). But the proposal for this last grant cycle may have been the most out-of-the box. Here is the narrative portion:

Description of Ministry/Project and goals: type of program and how long has it been in existence, who are your community ministry partners, how many paid staff and volunteers, where located/housed, etc.

Trinity Lutheran Church, and our affiliated nonprofit Trinity New Hope affordable housing, are applying for funds for the Region 3 Housing Coalition (“the Coalition”). The Coalition serves as the Idaho Homeless Coordinating Committee for Southwest Idaho, except Ada County, (Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley, and Washington Counties). 

The Coalition has existed for many years under the Treasure Valley Community Resource Center (TVCRC). 

In fall 2019 we moved out from under the TVCRC because of someone stepping down from leadership. We elected a great new chair, Natalie Sandoval (Homeless Education Liaison, Nampa School District) who led us through Zoom meetings beginning in March 2020. In May 2021 we resumed in-person meetings. 

In 2020 we adopted four focus areas: Network Improvement, Community Engagement, Resource Development, and Participant Experience. Website/Social Media Presence, the focus of this proposal, falls under Community Engagement.

How many people or families are being served and how many more are estimated being served due to impacts of Covid-19; what demographic groups does it reach? (ethnicity, family stats, income level, at-risk or vulnerable groups, etc.)

I honestly do not know how to answer this question. The Coalition currently includes the following: CATCH, Jesse Tree, Trinity New Hope, Salvation Army of Nampa, Hope’s Door, WICAP, Valley Women’s and Children’s Shelter, Catholic Charities of Idaho, Nampa Family Justice Center, Advocates Against Family Violence, the VA and several school districts. Collectively we serve thousands of families annually. The goal of this grant proposal is not necessarily to impact more people, although that could happen, but to impact them more effectively by being even less siloed. 

Describe any hardships that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused for your ministry, congregation, volunteers and community members? 

From Natalie Sandoval, “during COVID, families that were already experiencing homelessness were even more limited with shelter options.  Friends and family who may have let them stay with them were fearful to do that.  Families that were living out of their cars were much more vulnerable to getting COVID due to not having basic needs met.  Shelters were scrambling on how to keep people safe within the shelter system which initially caused some people to go without shelter.”

Consider also this data from Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA): 

What the “Out of Reach” report says about Idaho: There is a shortage of rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely low-income Idaho households whose incomes are at or below the poverty guideline or 30% of the area median income. Many of these households are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. Severely cost-burdened and poor households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities like healthy food and healthcare to pay the rent and to experience unstable housing situations like evictions.

What the ALICE data says about Idaho: In 2018 (the most recent study), 40% of Idaho households struggled to make ends meet. While 12% of these households were living below the Federal Poverty Level, another 28% were ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed

What HUD’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data says about Idaho: Only half of the state’s rental units are affordable (30% of monthly income) to Idaho residents. There are more than 41,000 renter households that are housing cost-burdened. The largest group is those earning 0-30% of the Area Median Income. There are nearly 52,000 homeowner households who are housing cost-burdened.

An Idahoan working at minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) has to work 72 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at HUD’s monthly Fair Market Rent ($680), according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

The Treasure Valley of Idaho was already experiencing a housing crisis before the pandemic. Federal Cares funds have helped many people but what we talk about at every Coalition meeting is, what happens when those funds run out and moratoriums on evictions end? The median home price in Canyon County, home of Trinity New Hope, is now $410,000 and a three-bedroom rental in Nampa ranges from $1,600 to $2,300, if you can find one. 

How is this ministry/program being funded presently? (Include information on current and anticipated funding needs for staff time, supplies, building, other operations)

We receive funds through IHFA based on the annual Point in Time Count for our region. Point in Time is the statewide event in which we try to count the homeless population across the state on one day each year.

How will grant funds be used to achieve your goals?

We have never had a fully operational website to tell the story of homelessness in Region 3 to the larger community. We had only one page on the TVCRC website. To begin with, we will need  Home Page, Who We Are Page, Get Involved Page, Education/Data Page, link to an email, link to Facebook page, and a Donate button. We would someday strive to have something like Ada County (Region 7): We will pay a web designer $750 ($25 for 30 hours) to build the website. We will then use funds from Point in Time Funds to maintain the website. [We will be awarded $1000 for this project–got the news May 28.]

What measures will this ministry/program use to evaluate success and/or results?  

We will measure visits to the sites. We will survey Coalition members for feedback as we finetune it. We will watch for how quickly the new website and our monthly meetings lead us to better advocacy in our cities and counties (for example, mobilizing for council and planning and zoning meetings). The ultimate success will be when our network helps bring about more joint private/public housing solutions, like the existing Our Path in Boise or upcoming Canyon Terrace in Nampa.

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2 Responses to Grant Writing as Storytelling

  1. JT Chapel says:

    Hi, I was doing some search on grants and grant writing and came across your post just now. I recently published a book about grant writing with the same title as your post! I am in complete agreement that grant writing is telling a story.

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