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My community college is situated in a rural area. Many times we feel that our needs are frequently overshadowed by the needs of larger urban areas that have higher rates of poverty, crime and larger low-income populations. We have to struggle to make our proposals competitive for governmental and philanthropic foundations.

What we are discovering is that we can act more like a start-up company, since we can marshal our resources far more quickly than a Fortune 500 company having a large bureaucracy.

See this John Melo four-minute YouTube video, “Comparing Start-Ups to Fortune 500” for more on this discussion:

Watch this video at YouTube.

We recently began a monthly series of meetings at a local coffee house to share ideas, collaborate and be ready to have a head-start on proposal deadlines, once issued by a funder. Our local group consists of grants coordinators from the community college, our four-year university transfer institution, our local school district, our county office of education and our city manager’s office. We all have different sources of information regarding prospective funding announcements, which we immediately share with our colleagues who may be better positioned to be the lead organization submitting a proposal.

Frequently, a proposal may be targeted for a lead organization, which may not necessarily be our community college (often designated in the proposal as the Institution of Higher Education (IHE)). Rather the target may be another lead organization, such as a Local Education Agency (LEA), that is part of our network. Then we dissect the Request for Proposal (RFP), to decide whether there can be linkages between the LEA and IHE, or others within our local partnership. At a minimum, we can provide letters of support for our partners to demonstrate that they have other local constituencies supportive of the lead organization’s proposal.

Since we are rural, we have other community colleges that are scattered throughout our Northern California region, and we can build on a regional consortium approach for proposal submission. There are several community colleges in our region that have similar needs, yet different strengths. Collaboratively, we can submit a stronger proposal that meets the needs of a larger number of IHEs, which is often far more cost-effective and attractto the funding agency.

Insight Center for Community Economic DevelopmentAn interesting example of building a collaborative can be found in the Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s “Building Workforce Development Funding Collaboratives in California’s Regions." The vision relayed in this document is to create good jobs and career paths for all in vital industries that need a growing workforce building on strong regional economies.

The strategy of developing active local partnerships and establishing regional collaborations are assets to be used in securing funding that is based upon the “power of partnerships.”

Consider developing these partnerships in future grant proposals. It may make the difference between getting funded or not! <>