2007 Kids Count in Indiana Conference
Sponsored by Indiana Youth Institute
Indianapolis, IN
Foundation and Federal Grant Writing, University of Missouri- St. Louis


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Glenda’s note: Since we have different writing styles, I don’t attempt to alter a writer’s style when I review a proposal, but overall, this writer could improve hers by shortening the length of sentences and breaking information into more paragraphs. Also, make it part of your standard operating procedure to conduct a check for spelling and grammar before sending your proposal to foundations


Summary: The writer introduces her agency, the project, and states the amount of her request, as a well-written summary should. But, she’s also included information that fits more appropriately into the project description (see below.)

We can strengthen the summary by answering these questions:
(1) How many youth will be served by the project? (240)
(2) What is the project timeline? (It’s a one year project with an October 1, 2006, start up date.)

Later in the proposal we also learn this is a pilot project. Since pilot projects are generally of interest to foundations, let’s draw their attention to it at the beginning of the proposal.

The foundation’s going to be curious about how their $50,000 contribution will be used. So we should tell them in this paragraph that it will be used to purchase horses and sponsor 20 youth in the program.

Lastly, it’d be easier to read this section if we break it into more paragraphs.

Summary: The Colorado Equine Therapy Institute is requesting $50,000 from the GO Foundation to develop an equine therapy program for juvenile offenders, high risk youth, and students in grades 8-12 in Boulder County School District.  This equine self awareness program, called Equine Therapy for Youth, will assist and support other community resources in reducing the involvement of high school students in delinquent behavior and violence and assist with gang resistance and academic improvement. I’m moving the last sentence in this paragraph here: The project will support already existing community resources available for our youth offenders and at-risk youth by using horses to assist with personal growth, accountability, anger management, and conflict resolution. I recommend we end the summary here and forward the rest of the information to introduce the project description.

See what a difference it makes when we break the rest of the information from the summary into two paragraphs instead of one…
Using horses to assist individuals provides in-depth observations of the natural environment and reflections of self that serve as metaphors that offer practical applications.  By developing sensitivity to a horse in the natural world, youth can enhance their life skills. Intimate contact with a powerful animal affords people a higher degree of empathy and awareness that can be transferred to others.  

The program will equally support community development for enhancement of their continuum of services for youth and contribute to meeting the overall goal of the judicial initiative. This goal, as published by Cities with Concerns for Youth in a 2003 study, says that community based sanctions can reduce recidivism at lower cost to the community and with greater effect than incarceration. High risk youth and juvenile offenders require comprehensive community services.

Agency Description: The writer introduces her organization and gives us some background information. This, too, is the section where the writer should, and does, introduce two standard attachments: a list of board members and a copy of the organization’s tax-exempt status letter.

We can strengthen the agency description by answering these questions:

  1. How many people are served by the organization?
  2. What other programs and services does the organization provide?
  3. Does the organization collaborate with others and how?
  4. Does the organization have any accomplishments, awards, or success stories to share?
Agency Description:  The Colorado Equine Therapy Institute (CETI) was established in 1993 in Cancun, CO, to provide services for people with disabilities, for individuals in need, and at-risk youth.  The not for profit organization is governed by a 10-member board of directors. (Please see appendices for tax verification letter and list of governing board members.) Jason Onhart, CETI president and founder, has received local awards for his volunteer services with special needs individuals in the community.  In 2002, CETI opened a doughnut shop in downtown Cancun to employ special needs individuals and each year provides a summer camp experience for at-risk youth and individuals at need.  The organization continues to expand its programs to assist individuals in developing the life skills necessary to assist  them in reaching their highest potential, finding and maintaining job placement, and providing housing for those with special needs. End here and move the following goal to the project description section. The goal of the Equine Therapy for Youth pilot program is to offer individual and family strengthening and support services, and become part of a task force to promote community involvement in mental health and juvenile issues.
Need for Project: The writer describes the problem with juvenile offenders in her community but stops short of identifying the problems of at-risk youth and high school students, two other populations this project will serve. The writer has documented the benefits of equine therapy, which is important to do. Since this is a proposed pilot project, we should also build a case for it by documenting studies about what others are doing to address the problem, and how their efforts have been successful or not. It’s important to state what’s been tested and tried to date so we understand how the proposed project will address the problem differently.

Need for Project:  ‘Colorado Citizens for Youth 2004’, reported 50.1 (per 1000) youth aged 10 – 17 were referred to the judicial system for juvenile law violation in 1998. By 2005, numbers increased to 88.5 children per 1000. In a 2004 demographic area study of Boulder County, CO, an average of 12% of youth was placed in the judicial system.  A national concern is how to effectively address the needs of the increasing number of youth already in the juvenile system and to identify and assist those at-risk youth currently in the school system.  Failure to do so threatens the success of the nation’s educational objectives and limits life-long opportunities for many individuals.
There is a complex mixture of factors that contribute to youth behavior problems, including developmental and psychological factors, care giver and environmental influences, effects of trauma and abuse, mental illness and the impact of the service environment.  Mental health services address the physical behavior as it is which allows for youth to manipulate the system by portraying only evidence and information which they feel will serve them.  Equine Therapy for Youth utilizes horses to assist in exploring a deeper level of communication within each individual that brings out the core issues and shows daily behaviors and the belief systems that drive them.  As these factors are explored in depth, participants respond with effective, non-coercive approaches to their common behavior issues.

Project Description: We’re going to move information from the summary to this section, and include the goal for the project that the writer inserted in the agency description.

We can strengthen the project description by answering these questions:

  1. Who are the key personnel and their roles, including volunteers?
  2. Have the judicial, mental health, and school systems bought into the project? How have they been involved in planning the project and what are their roles in implementing it?
  3. What is the plan for expanding the project to other counties and then nationally? When will this occur?
  4.  What are the (measurable) objectives of the project? Information in the summary section indicates that we should expect to see reductions in delinquent behavior and violence and that the project will assist youth to resist gang involvement and improve academic performance. The results should be specific and measurable.
  5. What actually takes place during the equine therapy sessions? How are staff and volunteers involved? How many high school students will be served during the project? How many youth in total will be served?  The writer says that 20 youth in the judicial system and 20 at-risk students will be served, but we have to move on to the evaluation section to see that 200 high school students will be served. We should state that a total of 240 youth will be served during the project so the reviewer doesn’t have to do the math.
  6. Why do we need to buy more horses? We’re asking the foundation to use their money to buy them, so we should provide an explanation.

Project Description:  Equine therapy programs have been partnering with mental health  agencies for more than 50 years. CETI’s programs are an extension of other equine therapy programs using horses to facilitate healing because CETI focuses on the horse as an equal partner to the client. The horse is a social prey animal instinctively in tune to its natural environment. They react to their physical surroundings and perceive subtle shifts in energy, movement, and emotions. As part of this project, clients will have an opportunity to select a horse to work with. With this approach clients mirror their inner state by the horse they pick because it usually represents their own personalities. Using ground exercises with a horse and client, the horse will immediately mirror back exactly what the human body language is telling it and amplify the energy, reflecting back ones inner state. This facilitates self awareness in a deep and profound way because the horse has no expectations, prejudices, or motives. Each moment during this process the clients are able to open up and reveal themselves in a safe manner, observe their behavior, and receive direct and immediate feedback while uniting unconditionally with another living being. The self discovery individuals experience with a horse provides them with more knowledge and accountability than if the knowledge had been presented by a therapist.

The key subjects to be addressed in this program are (1) juveniles already in the system, (2) at-risk youth who will be identified by counselors in the school system, and (3) high school students in grades 8-12 enrolled in the Boulder County School District. This pilot program will initially take place in Boulder County, expand to other counties in CO, and then nationally as it works with strategies using horses to capitalize on our youth’s strengths and resilience to create positive change in their lives. 

The youth enrolled in this program will learn prevention and self intervention techniques to decrease behavior problems, while increasing motivation, well being, and self confidence. Twenty youth currently in the 29th Judicial District will participate in a one year Equine Therapy for Youth pilot program to begin October 1, 2006. The youth will be individually scheduled to receive a one-hour session weekly for 8-weeks as they work through circles of self awareness and accountability, developing relationships with the horses and themselves. Each youth will receive sessions for 8-weeks followed by a 4-week break, then resume again for 8-weeks. During the 4-week break, youth will be asked to participate in equine care and supportive peer mentoring and to document their personal experience. They will receive a total of eight months of active equine counseling and four months of assisted positive peer culture and training in equine care. 

The program for at-risk youth will operate on the same time frame.  Twenty students will be selected from the school system based on counselor input in the following areas: those at high risk of dropping out, those who have consistently low and dropping grades, inappropriate behavior, truancy, negative influence of peers, personal and social responsibility, and economic and family support outcomes. 

In addition, an equal part of this pilot program is a prevention component that will aim to heighten the awareness of children by providing more effective responses to their needs. During the teenage years, young people make decisions that affect their transition to adulthood. Youth are more likely to make a successful transition to adulthood when they choose to stay in school, delay sexual activity or use contraceptives, and avoid excessive risks, like driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

The curriculum for the high school youth will take place on Saturdays and one day after school. The goal of this prevention program is to identify the leaders in grades 8 -12 and assist each one to harness the positive peer culture for the interest of the youth, the school, and the community. Leaders enrolled in positive peer culture create a ripple effect and have a large impact on all students that they identify with.  Counselors and teachers will assist in selecting five leaders from 8-12th grade levels who will participate in an 8-week session which will take place on Saturdays.  After the initial 8-week session each participant, with the aid of staff and counselors, will be asked to select five peers who could benefit from positive peer support. These students will then participate in the next 8-week session.

Evaluation: This section can be strengthened once we have developed measurable objectives. The evaluation plan to test the outcomes on participants is acceptable, but we can strengthen it by answering these questions:

  1. How are the youth involved in the evaluation process?
  2. Do you already have baseline data so you can compare pre and post-data?
  3. Who is responsible for conducting the evaluation?
  4. When will evaluation occur?

Since this is a pilot project, it’s also important to evaluate the collaboration of mental health agencies, the juvenile justice system, the school district, and equine therapy in addressing youth problems. These agencies are combining resources to solve a community problem, so we need to evaluate the effectiveness of the process as well as testing the outcomes on youth.

Furthermore, how will the organization disseminate information about the findings so others can replicate the project?

Evaluation: Two hundred high school students, 20 students in the juvenile system, and 20 at-risk youth will be participating in this one year pilot program. Equine Therapy for Youth will issue a survey to high school teachers to collect information regarding students overall improved behavior, grades, outlook to education, and changes in detention, accountability, effective communication, and relationship to peers, family, educators, and self. The 29th Judicial District probation officers, social workers, and family members will meet every three months during the pilot program to analyze and evaluate the progress of the youth participating in the model, with an overall evaluation at the completion of one year. In addition, Equine Therapy for Youth will combine forces with other supportive services in the community to establish a collaborative research program. The mission of the program is to develop, validate, publish, and disseminate research in the area of positive practices designed to enhance service quality in the field of assisted youth services and education. The Equine Therapy for Youth pilot program will be the first to be evaluated and tested as to the limits of the equine assisted therapy model as a framework for research, training, and practice.

Financial Information: This section usually references two attached documents: a project budget and a copy of the agency’s most recent audited financial statement.

We can strengthen the financial information section by answering these questions:

(1)Who is the contact person (name and phone number) in case foundation has questions?

(2) How does the organization plan to continue the project beyond the grant period?

Answering these questions will help to build the foundation’s confidence in the agency’s ability to manage their funds:

(1) What is the agency’s total budget?

(2) Does the organization administer other grant funds?
Financial Information: The total budget for this program is $175,000.  In addition to this grant request, CETI is seeking money from two private beneficiaries and two other foundations. A grant from the GO Foundation for $50,000 will be used to purchase 10 horses and sponsor 20 juveniles in the judicial system to participate in the project. CETI also has a planned fund raiser black tie function in October to raise money for this program. 
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