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Back to basics: The art of gathering grant data

Once you have researched and gathered the basics, the data required by the grant will seem much easier to approach

For most people, data collection conjures up images of clicking through the endless sources of information late into the night. We all know that getting the right data from the right sources can be daunting, so where should you start?

How about the data related to the reason you are applying for a grant?

Every grant requires data to validate the assumptions made by the grant writer to prove that what they state in the application is valid. You must paint a really good picture.

First, get yourself organized
After reading the funding announcement you must decide which facts or statistics are needed to support your grant project. Your data must be specific and offer a clear picture. You will need data to describe the problem, the target population, your police department and your community. You need to provide a balance between the data and the scope of the project.

Second, demonstrate what is working
You must give the reader hope that there are organizational services working on some aspect of the community problems. You want to avoid painting a grim and hopeless image of your community. Avoid overstatement and overly emotional appeals. Seek data that clearly defines the problem. For example: Youth drug and alcohol abuse is served by schools, civic organizations, faith-based organizations, and court systems as well as police departments. Outside of your police department, what other organizations are active in serving youth who have drug and alcohol abuse issues? A good place to start locating community data is your local Chamber of Commerce or your local community coalitions to get some of the data you need. They have already done the work for their own needs. Effective begging works faster and easier for data collection than clicking!!

Third, evaluate your approach
Review other community projects dealing with the same problem as you are planning and decide if your approach to the problem addresses the need differently or better than other projects within your community. Take a look at what other police departments in other communities are doing with the same problem within the same population. Make sure you select an approach that is approved or supported by the Federal Government if you are applying for a Federal grant. Much research and development has gone into the projects which offer grant funding. For these grants you will not be able to be completely creative. Best practices and promising programs are the most secure way to get funding.

Forth, avoid circular reasoning
When putting your data together you want to avoid presenting the absence of something as the actual problem. Avoid statements like all of your prisons are full so we need a new prison building. Define why the jails are full and then determine through a feasibility study if a new building is the needed or is there another more pro-active approach to the problem. Sometimes you will be surprised at the findings!

Fifth, identify the data
Once you have determined the scope and depth of the problem identify what types of clearly defined data you need to present a strong image of who is impacted. Compile a list of the data you need to gather. Determine what sources of data are reliable and valid for your use. Grant funders prefer data which is less than three years old. Use only enough data to define the actual problem. Overdosing the reader of your grant with too much data can cause them to lose sight of the reason the grant is being submitted

Data Resources
Start first with your local community contacts. Start with your county or city offices of health and human services, local chamber of commerce, drug free community coalitions, HIDA, gang task forces, drug taskforces have all gather and aggregated date which may be related to you department’s grant. Start there when looking for local community data. It is always better to check first, it will save you a lot of time. State resources vary within each state but the rule of thumb is that most of the state agencies mirror the Federal government. For example, if you are looking for justice statistics you would search your State Department of Justice

Federal Data Resources
The Federal Government has many libraries of data. Here are some easy to use data bases and websites you should know about.

Census Bureau Population Estimates Codebooks and Datasets

Crime and Justice Electronic Data Abstract spreadsheets
These are aggregated data from a wide variety of published sources and are intended for analytic use. Files are in .csv format which can be easily read by most spreadsheet and statistical programs, and many word processors.

Crime trends from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports
This provides custom data tables by State including U.S. totals (since 1960), and by reporting local agency (since 1985)

Data Online
This is a dynamic interface that allows users to construct custom data tables on: a) Crime trends from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports by State including U.S. totals (since 1960), and by reporting local agency (since 1985) b) Justice expenditures and employment for multiple activities (police, judicial, corrections), types of employment (full-time, part-time) and types of expenditures (direct, capital outlay, intergovernmental), since 1982.

Easy Access
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) data analysis tools
Easy Access is a family of web-based data analysis tools on juvenile crime and the juvenile justice system provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP. The applications provide information on national, state, and county population counts, as well as information on homicide victims and offenders, juvenile court case processing, and juvenile offenders in residential placement facilities.

Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics - FCCPS
Thiscompiles comprehensive information provided by selected federal criminal justice agencies ranging from arrest to reentry. The Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics (FCCPS) tool permits on–line analysis of suspects and defendants processed across stages of the Federal criminal justice system from 1994.

Homicide trends and characteristics
Provides statistics on the total number of homicides reported annually in UCR and characteristics of those homicides from SHR including: Age of victim (in age groups), Race of victim (White, Black, Other), Gender of victim (Male, Female), Race and gender of victim (White Male, Black Male, etc.) and Weapon used (Gun, Knife, Other weapon). The characteristics are presented as percentages of the total since not all homicides are reported in the SHR.

Justice Expenditures and Employment data query tool
Using this tool, customized justice expenditures and employment data tables can be generated for multiple activities (police, judicial, corrections), types of employment (full-time, part-time) and types of expenditures (direct, capital outlay, intergovernmental). Data is available since 1982.

Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS)
Provides statistics on Primary State law enforcement agencies (49 State police or highway patrol’s) and Local police and Sheriffs' agencies with 100 or more sworn officers and 50 or more uniformed officers assigned to respond to calls for service.

Prosecutors' Offices Statistics
Provides statistics on prosecutors' offices organized by districts (e.g. judicial districts) that cover one or more counties.

Finally, prepare early
Before you have a grant funding announcement, gather the basic data you need for almost all grant applications. Here is a suggested list of information you will need:

• History of you Police Department
• Types of services provided: community policing, gang taskforce, bicycle safety, etc.
• Basic Community demographics: population, educational levels, business and industry, etc.
• Crime Data: Part 1 and Part 2
• Internal Police Department Crime Data
• Grant History: types and names of grants, successes, amount, funder source

It takes time to gather the basic data. However, once you have researched and gathered the basics, the data required by the grant will seem easier to do. If you have any questions about grant data please contact me at Denise.Schlegel@policegrantshelp.com.

Best wishes with your funding endeavors.

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