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2020 Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We will continue to accept applications until May 21, 2021, or until our funds are expended. However, please be aware that your project completion deadlines are September 1, 2021 (for most projects) and May 1, 2022 (for longer running construction projects). We advise that you not submit a proposal for program improvement funds on May 20 with a completion date of December 31, 2021, as this does not comply with our completion date requirements.

There's no limit on the number of applications an organization can submit. Combining smaller projects into a single application would reduce work for all parties and might result in a quicker review and approval of your project(s).

There is no cap on how much an organization can request.

We will review applications every two weeks, so we anticipate sending approval notifications within 2-3 weeks of application submittal. However, receipt of the first payment will take longer (30 to 45 days).

Matching or in-kind funds are not required, but the OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program is required to use our funds to support outdoor school use, and not general use - hence the need for a proportional funding request. In-kind funds can be in the form of fees, materials, and/or time/labor.

Site improvement grants applications must be submitted by the owner of the outdoor school site.

We have some flexibility within an 18-month period, but ideally, most project should be completed by the end of 2021 (one year). Only projects requiring longer timelines will be permitted a completion date as late as May 1, 2022.

 

Yes. We will reach out to you and have a conversation about scope and cost.

No. We cannot fund new buildings with these funds. The language authorizing the use of lottery funds is restricted to use for existing facilities. For example, you can add to or modify an existing restroom or set of restrooms if you want to make them ADA accessible or gender inclusive. You can renovate an existing building, but building a brand-new facility or a new site is not what these funds were intended to fund.

Because of the uncertainty of the levels of our biennial funding, we cannot say if this grant program is something that will be ongoing. Continuation is possible, but we cannot commit to it.

For all practical purposes, yes.  The application asks for the applying organization to detail the qualifications of the contractor/consultant selected, whey they were selected, etc. Those questions could not be answered completely or honestly without the contractor/consultant having been selected.

Site owners/operators are the only organizations who will qualify for the site improvement grants.  Therefore, only outdoor school providers who own their outdoor school site would qualify to apply for both grants. They could apply for an EDI program improvement grant to improve their outdoor school program, to embed inclusive hiring practices for their outdoor school staff, for outdoor school instructor professional development, or to develop a diversity strategic plan for their outdoor school program. In addition, their site might need a wheelchair ramp for the dining hall. That would be a case where a single organization might apply for both grants.

To clarify, sites that host outdoor school (but do not have their own ODS program), are only eligible for the site improvement grant. They are not eligible for the EDI program improvement grant.

Always know that we will be happy to chat with you if you have a unique situation.

Yes - following discussion with and approval from the OSU Outdoor School grant management team.  The example provided was a site with an open or communal shower shower room in their shower house. Because some students (depending upon their family culture) have never showered in the presence of non-family members, installing shower dividers and/or doors could qualify as an accessibility and inclusion improvement. Another example might be signage that is placed in various locations around a site that provides information about the site as the local/regional Indigenous Peoples would see it.

No. We are not restricting your requests to any particular dollar amount. Tell us what you need. For this grant program (unlike a typical grant program) we want you to take a comprehensive look at your site or your program and request an amount that will permit you to do what you need to do to create more equitable spaces. What realistically can we do in the next 12 to 18 months and how much will that cost?

We ask that the amount of the total project cost requested to be proportional to your program's Measure 99 funded outdoor school activity. For sites, this means the percent of time your site is utilized by Measure 99 funded outdoor school should be proportional to your grant request. If you have reasonable justification for those proportions to vary from this, feel free to present that in your application.

Grant applicants must have served Measure 99 funded outdoor school students in the past three academic years (2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020) or be contracted to serve Measure 99 funded outdoor school student in the 2020-2021 academic year. So, in this instance, the answer is no. You would not qualify to apply for these grants.

This is philosophical answer and may not answer your specific question. The answer is not "No", but you need to tell us what would work for your organizaiton and why. We don't want to tell you how to do the work. That's not our job. But we would want to know if your organization is keeping your other outdoor school staff on board? Maybe they're not working because there's no outdoor school happening, but you're requesting to hire temporary staff? We might challenge you to think about what the difference is between bringing EDI consultants or trainers in to train your existing staff (a longer-lasting, more permanent solution) versus bringing temporary staff in that may or may not continue with your organization. 

If the organization-wide effort costs no more money than an effort focused on the Measure 99 funded outdoor school program staff, then yes, we would fund that program. For example, a trainer might charge no more to have 20 people in a training room than they would to have 15 people in the room. BUT, if the organization is paying for the labor of all 20, then it does cost the organization more. If the organization-wide effort costs more than it would if it were focused on just the Measure 99 funded outdoor school program staff, then we would want to see some investment from the organization (matching or in-kind funds) to justify extending the program to the full staff. We are 100% behind having more people trained in this work. The more, the better. But we cannot fund the entire staff and would need to see some support on the part of the applying organization to support the additional (non outdoor school) employees.

Absolutely. But, while paving the trails to make them more accessible is important, we challenge you to think about having a full-site accessibility assessment done. This assessment might cause you to think about slope or grading of the trail as well.  We ask that you do your best to make sure that it is a fully accessible trail (if possible) and we will do our best to fund that assessment, as well as the recommended work on the trail.

No. However, if you have question while preparing your application, please ask as many as you need to ask. And as we review your application, we will reach out to ask you questions or to request more documentation if necessary. 

The reporting deliverable is detailed our website.

No. For EDI program improvement grants we cannot fund work in progress.  For accessibility and inclusion grants, we can fund uncompleted projects with start dates on or after July 1, 2020.

Yes. A letter of support should attest to community interest in the project you're requesting we fund. And we use "community" as a very broad term which includes organizations outside of your organization.

Yes, the hiring of a tribal liaison would be a reasonable request for funding and we would not require that you name that a person or have them hired prior to requesting the funding. We will expect your application to clearly state the expectations/roles for the Tribal liaison, and to list your budget for that person as well as your plan for how long are they going to be on staff.  This detail is important to the Outdoor School program, as well as your organization, because the grant is structured to pay 50% at the start, and the remainder (actual costs) upon conclusion (following receipt and approval of the final report). Having a plan for fund distributions, changes, or adjustments that happen along the way is critical.  If, for some reason, your organization did not hire the Tribal liaison, then there would be a reduction (adjustment) to the final grant amount. 

These grants should help you "catch up" from the many years and perhaps decades that you have been deferring staff development/site improvements because you were losing money or barley making it (scarcity mindset). We also know that one year of grants will not fix the decades of accumulated issues. But we are hopeful that these grants might make a difference, AND that moving forward, you can begin operating in a sustainable way. It takes time to shift from a scarcity mindset to a mindset of long-term growth and thriving (vs.survival) mindset. We hope that many of you had started to make this happen, but the challenges of COVID-19 have thrown you off track. We want you to get back on track as soon as possible by utilizing these grant funds to "catch up" with staff, program, and site EDI and accessibility improvements, while doing your best to understand the cost of doing business and adjust your program costs (normal AND CDL) to reflect your actual costs.

No. We are not only looking for specific projects, but rather how your proposed project is presented and the completeness of your application. That is how your application will garner a score of 90% or higher. Every project, and therefore every application is going to be different. As always, we are here to support you, but this is a brand-new program for us, so we do not know what to expect as far as what projects you might propose. Follow the application guidance closely. If you can explain your timeline, the resources, and your project in a detailed way, that will help us understand what you are proposing. 

While we don't want to say NO - we're pretty much beyond our current capacity, so the chances are slim.  However, we have plenty of resources and referrals we could give you, so don't hesitate to contact us if you need help in finding a trainer/facilitator for your work.  Some quick referrals are to check out our Critical Orientations online training, or contact the OSU Office of Institutional Diversity.  They have a wide variety of trainings that could be scheduled for your teams.

Yes - give us a call and we can chat.  We challenge you to try to work with local organizations, if possible, Oregon businesses and organizations. We recognize that if they are all booked and busy, you might have to think about broadening the search a bit. I would say try to start with local folks and then expand your circles as that becomes necessary. 

If you track attendance by grade, you might estimate the number by using the number of fifth and sixth graders you served. This would reduce your count to at least those students who qualify for Measure 99 funding.  But please state in your application that this is how you calculated your percent funded.

While we offer no guarantees, at this point, we encourage you to assume that the only part of the outdoor school guidance (provided in Ready Schools Safe Learners) that is likely to change are the metrics of your individual county and/or the definition of outdoor covered structures (currently defined as no more than 25% enclosed (walled) might be increased to 50% enclosed (walled)).

While there is no “save” functionality, as long as you use the same computer and the same browser (and you haven’t cleared your cache), using the link we provided should take you back to the application you started. If you move to a different machine, clear the machine’s cache or use a different browser, the link will take you to a new and completely empty application form.

As we understand the system, each a single file upload is limited to 100 Megabytes and we are not aware of any other limitations or restrictions.

Please say yes to one or the other (consultant or employee) and clarify in your narrative that you'll be using both. Ultimately, we want to know what the qualifications are of all persons serving to facilitate your EDI work.

A team of four appropriately qualified people will be reviewing the applications. Your narrative and/or attached documents should clearly establish the qualifications of your facilitator(s). Provide the level of detail that you believe would be helpful to folks who might not be familiar with this area, and if the reviewers would like to see more, they’ll request more from you. A lack of information will not result in a rejected application.

We’ve requested that you limit your administrative costs (indirect costs) to no more than 10% of your total labor costs. However, we’re okay with you giving some administrative costs (like project specific bookkeeping) as line-item costs, as long as it's very clear in the budget table and text. We need to understand where those numbers came from and what the funds will be used for.

We’ve asked that you limit indirect costs to 10% of your total labor costs.

Every program needs the support of their decision-makers. In reviewing a proposal with an organizational focus, we recommend that you emphasize your organizations investment/support in EDI and commitment to EDI by highlighting in-kind or other investments in EDI (organization supports of EDI beyond this grant). Additionally, your application must state how the activities/work you’re asking us to fund will benefit your outdoor school students. How will Organizational understanding and support of EDI increase accessibility and equity for students who attend outdoor school?

Yes. This service should definitely be compensated. We have no preference for funding the compensation through the grant or in-kind/matching funds.

Your application should detail the work you’re asking us to fund. If other information serves to support the rationale for your application request, that would be acceptable to include as well.

We have no preference for one over the other, but we need to understand why your request might be out of balance with either your outdoor school related revenue or use.  We will be asked to justify our fund use to Oregon’s legislators, so we need to validate your justification for an out-of-balance request.

Depending upon how you track your expenses, you will need some form of personnel time tracking (QuickBooks report, timesheets, or a signed word document with the hours and rates) in addition to receipts, invoices and other appropriate expense tracking documentation.

Please contact us as soon as you know of a shift or change to your budget, either under or over, so we can plan for an appropriate response.

While we pay 50% upfront (so you’ll have working capital), your final report will include an accounting of all project expenses and OSU will reimburse you the unpaid amount in excess of the 50% upfront amount. If your total project expenses end up being less than the 50% upfront payment, you would reimburse OSU the remaining funds.

An outdoor school site is not required to use the OSU Outdoor School program’s Self-Evaluation Tools or to perform any in-depth EDI training or evaluation work to obtain site improvement funds. That said, you are welcome to include it in your proposal, and we’d be happy to fund it, as long as your proposal was clear about what you planned to do, how it would benefit outdoor school students, and your final report included a summary of the results and how you plan to keep the work going.

Great question. We’re not sure, but we’ll check with the Oregon Department of Education to see how they handle these students. Please contact us if you provide outdoor school for students who fit into this category.

We will continue to accept applications until May 31, or until we deplete our funds (whichever comes first). Feel free to submit complete applications within that window.

We’re reviewing proposals every two weeks, but approval will depend upon the completeness of your proposal. We have a history of requesting additional information, and that will extend the review and approval timeframe. Once the award is approved and issued (perhaps a few days to issue the award), your funding is assured. However, receipt of your first payment will take an additional 30 to 45 days.

No. Once the award contract is signed, it is a binding agreement. You can start planning and implementing your projects.

NOTE: You are putting yourself at risk if you contract or pay for services before you receive your award contract.

You can submit an application now and would hold the application until we received a copy of your signed contract. If possible, we would take it through the approval process, but we wouldn't award the grant until you sent us the proof of contract.

Questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact us at outdoorschool@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-4391 if you have any questions about the Outdoor School Program!