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Community Connectors: Lots of Great Changes for Round 4

This week the Ohio Department of Education is hosting the first set of regional meetings to share information about the next (and possibly final) round of Community Connector grants. Many thanks to Kimberlee Clark, Community Connectors’ Program Administrator for facilitating a great session. 

My greatest ‘aha’ moment was when Kimberlee said that this grant program has funded mentorship projects in more than 50 Ohio counties, but that the northwest and southeast parts of the state have been underrepresented. The Department would love to see strong grants from these regions. If you haven’t applied in the past, or have applied and not been funded, now is the time to apply!

This blog will highlight the key changes for potential applicants and partners. However, I highly recommend attending one of the regional meetings being held this week and then again in early January. The session is worthwhile to strengthen your understanding of the expectations, to hear strategies for success from past grantees, and to get to know the ODE staff who will support awardees in implementation. Click HERE for a list of all ODE Regional Meetings for Community Connectors.

Please note: The Community Connectors website (http://communityconnectors.ohio.gov/) right now only shows information for last year’s competition. ODE is working on revisions currently and anticipates that the revisions, including documents provided at the regional meetings, will be live early next week. At that time, ODE should also have the list of eligible schools available for review. In the meantime, keep an eye out on the Community Connectors Facebook page for updates.
So What’s New for Community Connectors in FY2019?
  • The program now will fund initiatives serving students in grades K-12. (In previous rounds, programs could only serve grades 5-12.)
  • The state budget allocated a total of $8 million for the biennium (FY2019 and FY2020), a reduction from the last two rounds which were about $10 million per year.
    • ODE is only holding one round this biennium, so all $8 million will be available in this round.
    • ODE has increased the maximum grant award from $100,000 to $150,000. (Grants will still have to have 3:1 match and will fund one fiscal year of programming. )
  • In addition to all previous questions from Round 3, applicants will have to respond to a new prompt about fostering financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurship skills in classroom settings. Priority will be given to programs that include these activities.
  • There are several new Applicant Certification requirements. These changes are being made to give ODE a stronger understanding of an applicant’s capacity to manage funds and comply with state and federal laws. In addition to the forms and assurances previously required, all lead applicants must include each of the following items as uploads with their application:
    • A signed Certification Form;
    • A list of board members, with term dates and acknowledgement that they serve without compensation;
    • An IRS Form 990 or a pro forma IRS Form 990 that includes June 30, 2016, or more recent;
    • A year-end internal financial statement to include June 30, 2016, or more recent; and
    • A copy of the organization’s non-discrimination/equal opportunity policy.
FY 2019 Timeline

ODE is extending both the Intent to Apply and Application periods in hopes of increasing the number and quality of applications.

  • Regional meetings: December 11 – January 18
  • Intent to Apply (required): December 18 – February 2
  • Application Open in CCIP: February 5 (8am) – March 16 (4pm)
  • Award Notification: By June 15
  • Grant Implementation: July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

As noted in our recent blog “Upcoming ODE Grants: To Write or Not to Write?”, the Community Connectors competition will be open during the same time period as competitions for Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grants and 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants. It is very important to determine quickly if this grant is a good fit for your organization. If your organization moves forward with more than one of these grants, Community Connectors can be written as soon as the application is available online and then dropped into CCIP in early February. That strategy would leave plenty of time to work on the other, more complex applications.

Last, but certainly not least, only 61% of the applications submitted in Round 3 were funded because there were almost double the number of applications as in the previous year. We anticipate the same competitiveness this round. The EnvisionEdPlus team is available to assist you in writing any of these applications.  If you have questions, need a quote for services or just want to brainstorm, please contact Tricia Moore, director of Partnership and Outreach, by email or phone (614-357-4439).

Happy Holidays!

~Michele Timmons, President (michele@envisionedplus.com or 614-893-7341)