A Closer Look at the COPS School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) Grant

Get tips on the five main sections in the RFA.

“Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding,” according to Brian Greene, physicist. This rings true when researching and writing most federal grants. The following tips can help guide you through the SVVP grant process and lead you to writing an award-winning grant.

As with any grant preparation, always review and read the grant request for applications (RFA). The SVPP Grant is chunked into five main parts: 1) School Safety Planning Efforts; 2) Funding Request and Integration; 3) Management and Implementation Plan; 4) Sustainability Plan and 5) Budget Description.

Dissecting the School Safety Planning Efforts section reveals planning is of utmost importance. It is time consuming, and it drives this grant forward. To begin, applicants must have internal risk assessments completed on all schools, bus routes and personnel (students, teachers and staff) prior to applying.  Risk Assessments can take months to complete, so advance planning is a must. Risk assessments examine who and how people might be harmed, identify existing precautions and list actions to eliminate the hazards. Once a hazard is identified, a solution targets hazard elimination.

Funding Request and Integration is the solution that eliminates the hazard. The funding request must be derived from evidence-based research. Once completed, match the research and solutions with the allowable cost list. This is where confusion begins -- there are conflicting terms under allowable and unallowable costs. Access control doors are an allowable cost. However, you cannot install them because construction and renovation costs are not allowed. Likewise, an emergency call box is an allowable cost while a non-emergency call box is unallowable. These are both push to talk devices.  Contact the grant program manager to clear up any confusion.  Tip: “Unallowable Cost Requests will NOT be Funded.”

The Management and Implementation Plan is the oversight for the SVPP grant and occurs post award. To ensure SVPP success with limited bumps in the road, assign a skilled program overseer. Procurement can be a tricky portion to maneuver. Oversight includes purchasing, receiving, installing and maintenance. With the world economy and market at our fingertips, awardees should tread carefully when purchasing equipment, technology and services. Per the SVPP RFA, “all equipment and products purchased with these funds must be American-made.”

“Ugh,” is the term used when grant writers and applicants see a request for a Sustainability Plan. One steadfast way to sustain school safety efforts is by having new school board members elected every two years. These elections allow for minimal stagnation with direct administration oversight. School board members, along with administration, staff and teachers, have a fiduciary responsibility to help oversee the security upgrades as well as other aspects of the school. To bolster a sustainability plan, the program manager should make a continuity binder containing security related items; this will include new and past efforts. This continuity binder will allow for seamless transition when new staff arrive and when older staff leave.

Finally, the Budget Description is straight forward. First, describe and link each purchased item to the SVPP project. Per RFA guidelines, “include item proposed for purchase, their purpose, and how the item relates to the overall project. “

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