If you’re planning to apply for any federal Department of Education (ED) grants between now and September 30, 2000, there’s a web site you should visit as soon as possible. It’s the “ED Grants Forecast” site, and it lists the programs and competitions under which ED has invited or expects to invite applications for new awards in fiscal year 2000.

The forecast is intended as a guide for individuals who expect to respond to upcoming grant competitions. It’s important to note that the forecast is advisory only and should not be regarded as an official application notice from ED. The official application notice that is complete and authoritative is the notice that appears in the Federal Register.

The Grants Forecast site contains programs and competitions which are organized by ED’s six principal offices: the Office of Bilingual Education; the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI); the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE); the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE); the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS); and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).

When you visit the site, you will find easy-to-read charts that contain several pieces of critical information for each program, including:

• The actual or estimated dates when applications will be available;

• The estimated number and size of awards; and

• Who to contact for an application.

You will see that each funding opportunity has a “CFDA” number attached to it. This stands for “Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance,” which is an enormous document containing brief summaries of each of the federal government’s discretionary grant programs. The number assigned to each funding opportunity tells you where to look in the catalog for information about that specific program.

Go to the forecast web site now if you’re thinking of applying for any ED grants this year! The forecast is an excellent planning tool that will enable you to create timelines which will give you ample time to put together fundable proposals.

For example, using the information in the charts, you can plan ahead for the grants you want to apply for by contacting the program officer and adding your name to the mailing list. This will let you receive notices about workshops and a copy of this year’s application when it becomes available. You can also ask for a copy of last year’s request for proposals (RFP) to get a sense of what you will have to put together in your application.

You should also ask the program officer if you can have copies of previously funded proposals or the names and contact information for winners of past competitions. That way, you can contact the winners directly and request a copy of their funded proposal. You can also ask them about the readers’ comments they received and the process of applying for federal funding. Previous winners may also be able to give you some “inside tips” on how to increase your chances of getting funded.

As you look at the grants forecast, remember also that technology initiatives can be funded in a wide variety of grant programs, so don’t look solely for those programs with “technology” in the title.

ED plans to update this grants forecast several times over the next six months to include any newly authorized programs and any revised dates or estimates. For example, the department expects to provide updates in the first week of January, March, and May 2000. Be sure to check the web site periodically for this updated information.

If you want to keep up to date about everything that happens at ED, I strongly urge you to subscribe to the EDInfo listserv. Send an eMail to listproc@inet.ed.gov with the words SUBSCRIBE EDINFO [YOURFIRSTNAME] [YOURLASTNAME] in the body of the message. If you have any questions about EDInfo, contact Kirk Winters at kirk_winters@ed.gov.

I hope your “grants forecast” is mostly sunny!