16 July 2010

Grants And Guarantees

There are times when putting your money where your mouth is is not the best option, it's the only option.

For several years now, I've been saying that Puerto Rico's horribly poor results in competitive federal grant programs is due to "not getting Our at-bats in," in other words, We don't try often enough, so We don't get any better.

(Two other reasons We suck at competitive federal grants is government stupidity and government corruption, but in the private sector, "fewer at-bats" is the top reason.) (It's also a reason in government, where for example, the 220+ employees of the local Department of Education's Federal Affairs Office average 1 grant proposal every 90+ days and 1 failure to achieve a successful result every 90+ days.)

So what's the basis of the problem?

1) There aren't enough experienced grant writers, and...

2) The ones we have charge a lot of money to write grant proposals because...

3) Writing good grant proposals isn't easy, therefore...

4) There aren't enough experienced grant writers to write the proposals.

A Catch-22 that requires some force to break the cycle. That force can come from within, from an experienced grant writer saying "I'll charge less in order to help Us get more proposals in. We'll get better by actively getting better at competing grants." In essence, We're going for more at-bats.

That's My role now: putting My money where My mouth has been for years. Since 2006, I've been charging $3,000 or more per federal grant proposal, with over $4.7 million won by them...not a dime of which was for Puerto Rico. My understanding is that there are less than 150, maybe even less than 100, good grant writers on this Island, many charging less than Me, but still charging in the $1,800-$3,000 range. Our Catch-22 can only be broken by making that investment easier, and short of printing money, the fastest way to make it easier is to drop the fee. A lot.

And that's what I have done. From now until June 30th of next year, I will charge $600 for a 15-page or less proposal and $900 if the proposal exceeds 15 pages. My quality guarantees remain the same (they are measurable), but since no one can guarantee federal funds to anyone, another guarantee emerges from this effort: We will be more successful at winning grants.

I know from experience that the worst position in baseball is pinch hitter, the player who gets only one shot every few games or so to make a difference. Unlike regular players or even regular substitutes, a pinch hitter gets one chance and only that chance to be a success. The player either delivers or fails, with no second chance. That's Us in federal funding proposals: We take one swing and that's it. Or worse, instead of "pooling" Our talents to raise Our potential batting average from .046 to at least .220, We take separate horrendously feeble swings and fail across the board.

If a change is going to be made, then it's time I stopped yapping about it and started doing something concrete. And since most of My Brethren only believe in money as a commitment, here it is: I'm committing Mine to help Us get more of the funds Our society needs to make truly significant changes.

I certainly can't do it alone. It will be a matter of time, energy and will on Our parts to see how many join Me in the next year to prove that We can compete and We can make the changes We know are needed, every day, across Our Island.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Gabriel said...

Coño! I'm putting this in front of as many people as I possibly can!

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Gabo, that's what I've been trying to do and your help in that area will be greatly appreciated. My next post will detail a little more of what I intend to do and how I intend (for now) to do it. As suggestions, comments, criticisms and results come in, I'll modify the process to try to achieve the largest impact possible between now and next June 30th. Thanks!