Quick Take: COVID-19 grant funding success requires attention to detail

Lexipol Senior Grants Consultants Samantha Dorm and Jerry Brant answer questions about available funds for public safety agencies


As the global pandemic continues to disrupt normal work and life patterns, many public safety agencies are looking for ways to supplement their budgets as traditional revenue and fundraising opportunities dry up. 

In the Lexipol webinar "Ask the experts: COVID-19 grant funding for public safety agencies," moderated by Sarah Wilson, vice president of grants at Lexipol, presenters Jerry Brant and Samantha Dorm discusses available grant funding options for public safety at the state and federal levels.

Dorm, a senior grants consultant at Lexipol and columnist for PoliceGrantsHelp, discusses several available grants through the Department of Justice, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. Brant, a senior grants consultant at Lexipol and columnist for FireGrantsHelp, breaks down the specifics of the supplemental AFG funding, and what else might be on the horizon for fire and EMS departments. 

The consultants also discuss specific questions related to applying for COVID-19 funding and how funds will be disbursed. 

Presenters Jerry Brant and Samantha Dorm discusses available grant funding options for public safety at the state and federal levels
Presenters Jerry Brant and Samantha Dorm discusses available grant funding options for public safety at the state and federal levels

Memorable quotes on public safety grant funding

"Every grant is different. It is imperative that our departments across the country take the time to read the guidelines, really look at everything." – Samantha Dorm

"Don't assume just because you've worked with that particular grant in the past that it would be the same; there are many different variances across the board." – Samantha Dorm

"These grants are operating under different conditions than we have seen in the past. I know there are a lot of long and boring documents, but it may mean the difference between you being funded and you applying on the wrong site or for items that are not eligible to even be applied for."

"The virus does not know about municipal or county boundaries, and we really need to look at this in a comprehensive fashion."

Top takeaways on grant funding for public safety agencies

Here are the top takeaways regarding COVID-19 grant funding for fire, EMS and law enforcement: 

1. Cost recovery or grant funding? Some grants are eligible to be backdated, allowing for reimbursement for already-purchased supplies or gear, while others are restricted to future spending. 

Brant recommends that departments:

  • Check eligibility. Some grants prevent the disbursement of additional funds if an organization has previously received COVID-19-related funds.
  • Document expenditures. A thorough record of expenses is typically required for cost-recovery. 
  • Read all documentation. Reading the guidelines for each grant opportunity will help leaders make the best financial decision for their organization. 

2. Read all grant document guidelines. As federal funds are made available for this specific moment in time, agency and department leaders should read all included documentation and instructions before filling out an application. Some grants will allow for backdating and reimbursement while others will not; some have restrictions on what funding can be used for, while others allow for a broad selection. 

Grant application windows may also be very short due to the heightened need and concern for getting funds to recipients quickly. Research early and apply in a timely manner, making note of the due date. 

3. Track data. According to Brant, departments and agencies should be tracking everything possible, even if the related grant windows are closed, as the COVID-19 situation is currently open-ended. "Grant programs that are closing very shortly, you may need that documentation for a similar grant program that opens up six months from now that we're not even aware of."

Data-tracking should include all equipment and gear used on calls, staffing for calls, and any coronavirus exposure or deaths. 

Cooperation with neighboring agencies and local governments is also key, as some grants may be a better fit when applied for regionally. 

Final thoughts on public safety funding for COVID-19 costs

Dorm summarized how public safety officials should think about grant funding with three questions:

  • What do you need?
  • Why do you need it?
  • What will happen if you don't get it?

Watch the full webinar here

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