06 Nov Cashing in on grant opportunities
Maybe you are a small Wisconsin business, a Wisconsin health care company, a state agency or even a university researcher and would like to glean some of the largess from the federal recovery act. Or, perhaps you have a timely project that could use funding from a state agency or a private foundation. If so, what would you give for a 55% success rate in securing these highly competitive dollars? Over the last six years, an Ohio-based company has been providing this grant success rate for a wide range of national clients.
The company, Strategic Health Care, actually has been around for 16 years, specializing in congressional, state and regulatory affairs, public policy analysis, and association management within the health care industry. However, after many of SHC’s clients requested help in finding and securing federal funds, the company established a Federal Grant and Fundraising Division, hiring Gwen Mathews as Senior Vice-President to run the endeavor.
In the beginning, after Mathews was hired away from her own consulting business, there was just Mathews and two part-time grant writers. Today, the division boasts three full time employees and a stable of 35 professional contract grant writers, editors and account managers who are scattered across the US.
While the initial focus of the new grant writing division was to help existing health care clients secure federal grants, the division’s success soon resulted in an expanded role including finding and securing grants from state governments and private sources such as the Avon, Kellogg, Krestge, William Randolph Hearst, Bill and Melinda Gates and Robert Wood Johnson foundations. Furthermore, as word of SHC grant-writing success spread, clients outside the health care industry also began seeking their services. While SHC still emphasizes health care fundraising, the company also has successfully written and obtained grants from a wide range of federal departments and agencies, including NIH, DoD, DoL, DoE and the USDA. Since this summer, SHC has written grants for a Houston-based energy company, for a systems biology research project and for the Universities of Tennessee and Cincinnati, among others.
“Business has mushroomed each year since (setting up the division)…We’re seeing a lot of non-healthcare people taking an interest (in what we have to offer),” explained Mathews. As an example, she said that SHC is in the final stage of negotiations with the state of Delaware to help all of that state’s agencies identify and secure federal grant dollars, most of which would not be healthcare related.
Mathews, who splits her time between SHC’s Columbus and Washington, DC offices, went on to say that SHC has worked on “hundreds” of grant applications over the last six years and that the grant writing division currently has 25 active clients for which about 50 grant applications have recently been submitted and are awaiting funding decisions.
What is the secret for SHC’s success?
“We can help (clients) determine if a project is a good match for the funding opportunity they want to pursue. In terms of return on investment, the average grant is about $500-$600K, with a range of $250K-$3M. So the investment they make (in SHC) enhances the chances of being successful. We bring to the table a group of folks who are very, very skilled in what they do and understand, not just federal grants, but the grant world in general and (who) have a great depth of knowledge (in the grant application process) that the average client doesn’t have.” Mathews said. “In the long run, we really save (our clients) money. We have had many clients come to us who have put in multiple applications that have not been successful and we helped them develop successful applications, so we do save them money.”
Michael Stein, Executive Director of Government Affairs for Bassett Healthcare in New York, used SHC to successfully secure a federal Health Resources and Services Administration grant for a tele-health network system. He pointed out that it was a very complex project involving several partner organizations and had a very short lead time of less than three weeks. Stein searched online for a grant writing service, interviewing several and “…was impressed with the `grant game’ at SHC.” SHC put a team of grant writers on the project and made the deadline—normally SHC assigns one account manager and one grant writer to a project, but this illustrates the company’s ability to deal with granting tribulations that many businesses could not tackle.
Stein added that although the grant received the highest score of the many grants that were submitted, it was not funded since they were not in a healthcare shortage area, one of the preferred requisites in the RFP. Mathews, who was acquainted with the HSRA program officer, called and inquired about the grant’s status, which led to it eventually being funded. In fact, Mathews said she was close to calling in the government relations team at SHC to see if Bassett’s congressional representatives could influence the agency’s decision—which exemplifies the value of not only having professional grant writers, but also of being familiar with the federal grant system and being able to bring other useful resources to bear in order to address the all-too-frequent exigencies of federal grant funding.
In another example of a satisfied client, Rick Giecek, Chief Development Officer for the University of Tennessee Medical Center said that they have used SHC to apply for 6 grants from the federal and state governments and the Avon foundation, three of which were awarded. Their latest awards totaled almost $1 million for diabetes education and for digital mammography equipment. Giecek opined that “…Strategic does good work, they have a lot of depth and breadth.”
As this article was in preparation, SHC founder and President, Paul Lee, announced in an email that SHC had landed its largest grant for a client–$45 million dollars from the USDA.
That probably would be another satisfied client.
To contact the SHC grants division, email Gwen Mathews at: Gwen.Mathews@shcare.net.
For the purpose of fairness, the author discloses that he is a part-time contractor for SHC.
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