Contact: National Telecommunications and Information Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW Room 4096
Washington, DC 20230
phone: (202) 482-2048
fax: (202) 501-5136
The Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) is a highly competitive, merit-based grant program that brings the benefits of an advanced national information infrastructure to communities throughout the United States.
The program was designed to promote the availability and use of advanced telecommunications technology for the public and non-profit sectors. Since the program’s inception in 1994, TIIAP has made matching grants to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as schools, libraries, police departments, and community-based non-profit organizations.
Successful TIIAP projects demonstrate the importance of networks to support learning, promote resource-sharing, foster communication, and aid in economic development within rural and urban communities.
As of last year’s awards, TIIAP has given 451 grants to deserving projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S Virgin Islands, totaling $135.8 million. Grant candidates are encouraged to create programs that help underserved communities get connected to the information superhighway.
TIIAP remains closely connected to projects that receive funding for the duration of the winning program. As a result, TIIAP has gathered a significant body of information about the creation and management of information technology applications.
In order to present these “best practices” so that communities can learn from them, TIIAP’s directors recently compiled a document called “Evaluation Report on the 1994 and 1995 grant years of the TIIAP,” which evaluates the impact of the grant program and draws conclusions on the findings made by award recipients. Those interested in reviewing the TIIAP Evaluation Report may download it from the program’s web site.
The Clinton Administration has requested $20 million for TIIAP in fiscal year 2000, exact figures on year 2000 appropriations most likely will be published as a “Notice of Availability of Funds” in the January 1, 2000 Federal Register. Officials at TIIAP are expecting to receive around $13 million this year, however, which is a 15 percent cut from 1999 funding.
Although the official announcement of the 2000 competition will not take place until January (with a deadline tentatively scheduled for March), applicants are encouraged to start planning now, since you’ll probably want to meet with stakeholders, raise matching funds, identify and work with potential end users to assess their needs, market ideas to the community, research technological alternatives, develop an evaluation strategy, and study how other communities are using network technologies.
Complete TIIAP applications should include the following items, in this order:
• Standard Form 424, application for Federal Assistance
• Executive Summary (1 Page)
• Table of Contents (optional)
• Project Narrative (up to 8 pages)
• Appendices to the Project Narrative (optional, up to 32 pages, including timelines, charts, diagrams, maps, letters, etc.)
• Standard Form 424A, Budget Information Non-Construction
• Budget Narrative
• Statement of Matching Funds
• Standard Form 424B, Assurances
• Standard Form CD-511, Certifications
• Standard Form LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities
The total application must not exceed 40 pages, not including the Executive Summary, Standard Forms, Table of Content, or budget information.
Also included on the TIIAP web site are general suggestions for developing projects that have a good chance of winning grants. Some of these include:
• Be succinct and clear: Make sure to leave out jargon and exaggeration, and be careful to meet length requirements.
• Stay within the page limits: Reviewers will ignore any portion of the Project Narrative that extends beyond 8 pages.
• Do not use pointers to online resources: Because web pages can be altered after the close of the grant round, information from a web site should be printed and included in the Project Appendix.
• Review the Project Narrative once it is complete: Do not treat each of the review criteria as a separate and distinct writing task. Make sure all the parts flow.
• Use the Appendix to expand your presentation: Do not assume those reading your presentation know anything about you, your organization, your project, or your community.
• Check each copy of the original application: Make sure every copy you submit has all the pages.
Successful applicants will also make sure to define a specific problem in their project descriptions, propose credible solutions, and identify realistic, measurable outcomes. In addition to these helpful hints found on the TIIAP web site, potential applicants can find extremely detailed description of what each component of an application should include.
School districts who have presented exceptional projects in the past have won substantial prizes from TIIAP.
For example, Boston Public Schools won $1,898,197 in 1996, which they used in implementing information technology in their School-to-Career program. Students used information technology to learn skills specifically tailored to meet the needs of local businesses.
In 1995, Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, Ky.) won $1,972,225 in a partnership with the City of Louisville, the Louisville Science Center, the Louisville Free Public Library, Bellarmine College, and Pike County Schools. The project helped the area create a fiber-optic metropolitan wide area network providing all partners with access to information networks.
TIIAP officials note that partnerships which bring organizations from all over a community are encouraged. For more tips, the TIIAP web site has project outlines of 36 winning awards from past years available on its web site.
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