3 top questions about EMS grants

Learn how grant funding can help meet the challenge every EMS agency is facing

Funding is the common challenge facing EMS agencies across the United States. Very quickly most conversations about funding turn to EMS grants. Here are the top three questions asked about grants for EMS agencies.

1. How do I get started?
The idea of grant writing or bringing your agency through the process can seem overwhelming and daunting. It is unknown territory for most EMS agencies and an added responsibility for most overburdened EMS administrations. The simplest way to get started is to get your agency grant ready by learning the grants lifecycle and gathering documentation.

These are the stages in the Grants Lifecycle.

Stage1: Plan an opportunity by developing a program based on your organization's mission and goals. Always plan your project prior to applying for grants!

Stage 2: Search for grant opportunities from government and private funders that have similar goals to your project. Make sure your agency meets eligibility criteria.

Stage 3: Submit an application or letter of intent for the grant.

Stage 4: The award stage or phase is when the application submission process is completed and the review process has begun. The funding agency notifies the applicants whether or not they have been awarded a grant. The funder also begins working with the award recipient(s) to finalize the legal framework for the funding agreement. Following this, the funds are disbursed.

Stage 5: This is when the true hard work begins — after your agency has been awarded and the funds have been disbursed. This is when you will begin your project and you are responsible for meeting the administrative, financial and programmatic reporting requirements of the award.

Stage 6: The final stage or post-award phase mainly involves reporting compliance on the agreed upon deadlines.

Most grants require a common set of documents. Gather these in advance of beginning the application process.

  • IRS determination letter
  • Financial statements from the past 2 years
  • Common statistics and demographic information
  • Quotes if equipment is being purchased or payroll information if personnel are involved
  • Letters of support if regional or multi-agency effort
  • Board of directors approval if necessary

2. Where do I find the money?
Once you’ve established your agency's eligibility, completed your project’s goals and funding needs, and familiarized yourself with the grant process it is time to look for opportunities. But where do you start? There are two major grant sectors to research. The first sector to search for EMS grants is foundations and private corporations. The second sector to search for EMS grants is federal, state and local government agencies.

Foundations and private corporations
The grant makers that have the highest probability of funding your project will be local. Local foundations and businesses already have a vested interest in the service you provide. Look toward local charitable trusts that have been designated to help the community you serve or your local community foundations. Often private corporations that rely on your presence for safety and service have corporate responsibility programs that give back to the communities in which they are located. Research corporation websites and ask those with deep roots in the community if they know a good starting place.

Federal, state and local government agencies
Tracking new federal funding opportunities can be a long journey. However, there are a few annual federal grants that the majority of EMS agencies are eligible for including Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) and Emergency Management Performance Grant Program (EMPG).Up-to-date Information about federal grant programs can be found on grants.gov.

Search for state government grant funding on state government websites. Departments that may fund EMS projects are Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Department of Public Health. If the information is not easily found on the state websites, contact a state government grants manager to help you find open opportunities. This person may also know the funding landscape for future fiscal years.

3. How long until I get awarded?
The answer to this question is dependent on the grant maker. While private foundations can give you an application response as quickly as 1-3 months others may take up to 6 months to respond and then award.

Foundations and private corporations typically have much quicker responses and award timelines than government funders. Government funding typically takes at least 6-8 months for a notice of award with upwards of a year for funding. It’s no surprise that government funding takes longer since the applications are complex and thousands of agencies are competing for grant awards.

Though these are the most common questions about EMS grants they only scratch the surface!

What questions do you have about grants for EMS agencies?  

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