Great news! You can now add the word “eGrants” to your burgeoning list of eWords. For several years, software programs that allow you to search for funding sources have been available. But now, technology is being incorporated into the writing and the application process as well, making grant seeking easier than ever.

In this column, I will discuss the eGrants system being used in Pennsylvania, the e-GAPS system recently initiated by the federal Department of Education, and eGrants Manager, a web-based education grants-management system available from Enterprises Computing Services (ECS).

Pennsylvania’s eGrants system

Both Gov. Tom Ridge and Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok are committed to transforming education and government using technology. As part of this effort, the Pennsylvania Department of Education began in 1999 to pioneer a new way of distributing, collecting, and processing grant applications using the internet.

This electronic application, known as eGrants, was initiated with several federal programs and is being deployed for all the department’s grant programs. All Pennsylvania applicants must use the eGrants system to submit Technology Literacy Challenge Fund applications, because the department is accepting only electronic submissions.

Interested applicants log onto the system and receive a user ID and password. Applicants are able to make revisions until the application is complete and the “submit to the Pennsylvania Department of Education” button is pushed.

Applicants may continue to view their applications after submission, but they cannot make any changes.

This competition also represents a first for the eGrants system, in that an electronic peer review process will be used. Reviewers will receive training on the electronic system and be asked to review grants at their convenience (on their own computers) within a designated time frame.

The eGrants system’s advantages include reduction of application paperwork and errors, streamlined processing, and several tracking features that allow applicants to monitor their grant’s progress.

U.S. Department of Education’s e-GAPs system

In February, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced its Electronic Grant Application Package System, known as e-GAPS, which allows applicants to prepare and submit proposals online. It is being piloted in the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages and the Office of Postsecondary Education.

Later this year, additional programs in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement will test the system.

Applicants who use e-GAPS will be able to update, delete, and view their existing grant application online, and they will be able to check the status of applications.

ED estimates that half its grant competitions will use e-GAPS by the 2001 fiscal year (the government’s fiscal year runs from October through September) and that all competitions will be using e-GAPS by FY 2002.

Enterprises Computing Services’ eGrants Manager

ECS, an Atlanta-based software development and services company, recently announced the availability of its eGrants Manager system. eGrants Manager is a web-based system that allows users to browse, search, retrieve, prepare, and submit applications via the internet.

This system allows applicants to prepare their applications as a single entity or as a collaborative process. It also automates the approval process at the state level and tracks the disbursement of funds.

eGrants Manager is a web-based software application that consists of the eGrants Store and the Claims module. The eGrants Store is a database containing funding source applications, supporting documents, and online approval processing at the state level. The Claims module allows grantees to request payments from approved allocations of funding, track disbursements against budgets, and run accompanying reports.

These modules can be customized, and ECS says that its eGrants Manager is scaleable for state departments of education or mid- to large-sized school districts.

Savvy grant writers should check out these new programs. A future with no more paper proposals is right around the corner!

I’m sure there are other systems in use across the country to streamline the process. Please feel free to eMail me and tell me about them for a future column.

Pennsylvania’s eGrants system
http://egrants.ed.state.pa.us

U.S. Department of Education’s e-GAPs system
http://e-grants.ed.gov

Enterprise Computing Services’ eGrants Manager
http://www.ecs-eduk12.com