10 Tips for Applying to the Capacity Fund Grant

10.01.12 | 9am | Grant Opportunities

Over the past few years as grants coordinator at Partnerships for Parks, I’ve seen quite a few applications for the Capacity Fund Grantcross my desk. I want to pass on some tips to help

you make your application stronger.

PfP staff share skills with fellow activists through the Partnerships Academy

1. Be sincere and let your passion show.

This grant is at its core for community groups run by volunteers, and sometimes, groups that are just starting out. One thing that groups run by volunteers have going for them is the drive to make great things happen in their park. Don’t be shy about letting your passion shine through.

2. Make sure the grant guidelines fit your group’s mission and organization goals.

Read the grant guidelines carefully, and if you have any questions, ask us. If you propose a grant project that falls outside the grant guidelines or is tangential, this will raise questions.

3. Call us to discuss your project idea.

Some funders welcome questions before the grant deadline; some don’t. At PfP, we definitely want to hear from you. I strongly encourage you to contact us as you start to plan and develop your project idea, or when you have some ideas in mind. This is a quick and painless way to determine whether your project is eligible for our grant, and I can also point you in

the way of other resources we offer. You can reach me at (212) 676-1929 or Grants@CityParksFoundation.org.

You should also contact your local Outreach or Catalyst Coordinator to discuss your ideas. They can provide project support and connect you to local groups, Parks agency staff, and help you overall to navigate the agency.

4. Strengthen your group

Be clear how the grant will help your group become stronger. Think ahead six months or a year from now. What kind of impact do you want to see on your group? Will it have stronger leadership? Will your group be able to do better outreach? Recruit more volunteers, or have more people attend your events?

5. Engage the community.

Does your project offer clear and well-publicized ways for community participation? Make sure your application lets us know how!

 

Staten Island OutLOUD puts on a popular Jazz-poetry parade in Tappen Park inspired by Wallace Stevens' “The Emperor of Ice Cream”.

6. Make sure your grant request doesn’t include items we cannot fund.

This goes back to reading the guidelines carefully. I’ve seen applications asking us to fund the very things we don’t fund: staff time, items sold for profit, overhead costs, travel or transportation, and capital improvements.

7. Be specific.

You’ve already explained the potential impact and reach of your project. Now, equally important: the details. Be clear about what specific events or activities you are planning, including outreach and timeline.

8. Make sure your project budget is complete.

Be specific and include estimates. If you are asking for project supplies, don’t just say $300 for supplies. Explain what the supplies are and get estimates for each item.

9. Connect to Parks staff where necessary.

If your project involves some changes in the park’s landscape—gardening plans, signage, or visioning plans for the future—make sure you get approval from your park manager. Your PfP Outreach or Catalyst Coordinator can help you with this.

10. Recruit someone with an eye to detail to review the application.

No matter how hard you worked on the application, you need a fresh pair of eyes to proofread it, and make sure it’s clear of typos or other glaring errors. And make sure to get our name right – it’s Partnerships for Parks, with an s.

 

Some recommended resources:

The Foundation Center provides a number of free classes on proposal writing, building a budget, and working with funders. The classes are offered both in person at their office, or online.

 

Citizens Committee for New York City awards grants to groups of neighbors working collaboratively to improve their communities.

 

Ioby (In Our Backyards) is a crowd-funding platform for environmental projects. Many community groups have successfully tackled grassroots fundraising through ioby.

 

Channaly Philipp is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for Grants & Resource Development for Partnerships for Parks


 

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Over the past few years as grants coordinator at Partnerships for Parks, I’ve seen quite a few applications for the Capacity Fund Grant cross my desk. I want to pass on some tips to help you make your application stronger.

PfP staff share skills with fellow activists through the Partnerships Academy1. Be sincere and let your passion show.
This grant is at its core for community groups run by volunteers, and sometimes, groups that are just starting out. One thing that groups run by volunteers have going for them is the drive to make great things happen in their park. Don’t be shy about letting your passion shine through.
2. Make sure the grant guidelines fit your group’s mission and organization goals.
Read the grant guidelines carefully, and if you have any questions, ask us. If you propose a grant project that falls outside the grant guidelines or is tangential, this will raise questions.
3. Call us to discuss your project idea.
Some funders welcome questions before the grant deadline; some don’t. At PfP, we definitely want to hear from you. I strongly encourage you to contact us as you start to plan and develop your project idea, or when you have some ideas in mind. This

is a quick and painless way to determine whether your project is eligible for our grant, and I can also point you in the way of other resources we offer. You can reach me at (212) 676-1929 or Grants@CityParksFoundation.org.
You should also contact your local Outreach or Catalyst Coordinator to discuss your ideas. They can provide project support and connect you to local groups, Parks agency staff, and help you overall to navigate the agency.
4. Strengthen your group
Be clear how the grant will help your group become stronger. Think ahead six months or a year from now. What kind of impact do you want to see on your group? Will it have stronger leadership? Will your group be able to do better outreach? Recruit more volunteers, or have more people attend your events?
5. Engage the community.
Does your project offer clear and well-publicized ways for community participation? Make sure your application lets us know how!

Staten Island OutLOUD puts on a popular Jazz-poetry parade in Tappen Park inspired by Wallace Stevens’ “The Emperor of Ice Cream”.6. Make sure your grant request doesn’t include items we cannot fund.
This goes back to reading the guidelines carefully. I’ve seen applications asking us to fund the very things we don’t fund: staff time, items sold for profit, overhead costs, travel or transportation, and capital improvements.
7. Be specific.
You’ve already explained the potential impact and reach of your project. Now, equally important: the details. Be clear about what specific events or activities you are planning, including outreach and timeline.
8. Make sure your project budget is complete.
Be specific and include estimates. If you are asking for project supplies, don’t just say $300 for supplies. Explain what the supplies are and get estimates for each item.
9. Connect to Parks staff where necessary.
If your project involves some changes in the park’s landscape—gardening plans, signage, or visioning plans for the future—make sure you get approval from your park manager. Your PfP Outreach or Catalyst Coordinator can help you with this.
10. Recruit someone with an eye to detail to review the application.
No matter how hard you worked on the application, you need a fresh pair of eyes to proofread it, and make sure it’s clear of typos or other glaring errors. And make sure to get our name right – it’s Partnerships for Parks, with an s.

Some recommended resources:
The Foundation Center provides a number of free classes on proposal writing, building a budget, and working with funders. The classes are offered both in person at their office, or online.

Citizens Committee for New York City awards grants to groups of neighbors working collaboratively to improve their communities.

Ioby (In Our Backyards) is a crowd-funding platform for environmental projects. Many community groups have successfully tackled grassroots fundraising through ioby.

Channaly Philipp is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for Grants & Resource Development for Partnerships for Parks

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