2019 is coming to a close and we are reflecting on some of the lessons we have learned from the last year and celebrating the accomplishments of our team and partners. We sat down with a few of our team members to ask them what they have learned over the last year, here is what they had to say:
Nikki: Many grants require data collection and performance reporting, which have the potential to be tedious and time-consuming. We have found a handful of key strategies to reduce this burden on grant recipients:
– Efforts should be made on the front end to plug into existing datasets, so to not duplicate work for staff involved with the grant.
– If there is not an existing data source, it may be beneficial to spread primary data collection efforts out, minimizing heavy lifts to any specific person.
– Simplifying data collection and input by using a survey or similar tool, instead of a paper form, drastically reduces the time it takes to enter data.
Using these strategies to minimize the data collection burden ensures that the maximum amount of grant funds are used to provide direct services to people.
Chris: There’s no such thing as over communication in a regional planning process. Frequent outreach using numerous channels to individuals and groups at all levels in a community is necessary to assemble a vision the reflects many different voices. Hard work on the communication front pays major dividends when making the case for supporting an emerging vision.
Robin: Prospecting and staging ahead of the official release of a grant program positions organizations for a smoother program development and writing process. Identifying and analyzing needs, defining communities, and creating strategies with outputs can be accomplished beforehand and then tailored to a specific request from a possible funding source. A pre-designed grant matrix can determine funder alignment quickly, and internal document storage can ease the process of recreating standard grant templates and forms. All of these techniques can save valuable time, especially on those grant programs with quick turnaround deadlines.
Kaci: Career Technical Education (CTE) provides a strong foundation for students to transition into career pathways after graduating from high school. The best programs work dedicated industry councils to align the technical curriculum with the needs of the labor market. While CTE provides local employers with a qualified pool of entry-level and skilled workers, the scale of programs is not large enough to totally fill the hiring needs of some industries. Recognizing this limitation, companies must work not only with CTE programs, but other community-based education and training providers to build their talent pool.
Floyd: Sometimes you chase the bunnies and sometimes the bunnies chase you.
This year we had a lot to celebrate! We partnered with organizations across the country to successfully apply for over $36 million in grant funding. We also worked closely with MJ Crocker and Associates and Manufacturing Works to develop a report on the State of Manufacturing Focused Career Technical Education in Greater Cleveland. Finally, we worked with partners nationwide on 10 program evaluations. We are looking forward to the new year and the new decade. 2020 here we come!