Introduction to Community Network Grant Funding -- Government, Foundation, Corporate

| LaPlaza | News From the Street | Online Papers | Live Agenda | Speakers |
| Travel & Accom. | Administration | FastFacts | Other Things |

Richard Bryant
Frank Odasz
Janel Radke
Judy Sparrow

Judy Sparrow
Judy Sparrow is a program officer with Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA advises the executive branch on telecommunications issues, manages the federal spectrum, and administers several grant programs. TIIAP started in 1994 with $27 million in grants, and has given out about 200 grants since then.

All grant proposals are reviewed by three people, and Larry Irving makes the final determination on the grants. TIIAP is looking for applicants with strong partnerships and cross-cutting across communities, Sparrow said.

Sparrow briefly described three grant programs TIIAP administers, information about which can be found at, and at 202-482-2048.

One member of the audience pointed out that the benefit of a TIIAP grant doesn't stop with that grant -- further support from the community in the form of equipment or financial donations keeps rolling in after the initial award. Sparrow agreed, adding that the grant can spark a kind of synergy.

Janel Radke
Janel Radke is executive director of the Center for Strategic Communications, a nonprofit organization that educates and informs nonprofit managers about how to advance program goals by taking advantage of today's communications environment and how to leverage resources through communications planning. One of her group's mandates is to go around to foundations and to explain to them the importance of communication, and to let them know how their participation will in turn help their own organization.

In summary, let the program take the lead whenever possible. Remember that networking is about people, and stress why the existing mechanisms don't work and why yours does work.

Richard Bryant
Richard Bryant is co-founder and Managing Director for Projects and Research and Development for La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation. He has also taught for the University of New Mexico-Taos Education Center Computer Technology Department.

Bryant started by giving a brief history of LaPlaza: At the end of May 1993, a few people decided Taos needed an Internet connection. They were lucky enough to get money from Apple Computer, and collaborated with the University of New Mexico - Taos. LaPlaza gave the school Internet access in return for space. Los Alamos then helped with its T1 line and other support. State Sen. Carlos Cisneros managed to create a bill to get LaPlaza some funding to set up a community network, funding that came through in the summer of 1994. In December 1994 LaPlaza went up for public access. As you can see, getting grant money is a lengthy process.

A few things to be aware of:

Why is the community network important to the region? In rural areas, the community network provides vast resources that are taken for granted in larger metropolitan areas. The network also provides publicly accessible online services.

Primary objectives:

Sources of grant funding:

This is the order in which you want to look for funding: if you start local, the larger groups are more likely to add to your existing funding.

How to get the money?

Available options:


Bryant reminded that fluff doesn't work in a grant proposal. It's sometimes difficult to know how much information to include in the proposal, and it will depend on what you're trying to say. You'll have to be clear about what you're trying to say, and say it in as few words as possible. An audience member quoted a statistic stating that 60 percent of grant proposals are thrown out before they're considered, due to missing or incorrect information. Don't leave something blank if you don't have the information -- put NA. It was stressed very highly by grant reviewers in the audience to follow the specific instructions to the letter. And don't use terminology that is not commonly known yet. Bryant said that in his proposals he avoided the words "computer" and "technology", for example.

Frank Odasz
Frank Odasz is director of Big Sky Telegraph, an online educational community network in Montana which supports self-directed lifelong Western Individualism.

A few things to keep in mind:

A few points:

Keep in mind it's a great challenge to write grants. Look to others for editing assistance, grab boilerplate proposal suggestions when they're available (Big Sky Telegraph has several online). And it gets easier each time you write another grant proposal.

Reported by Jennifer Stone