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Fractured Prism

Welcome to the Fractured Prism. This is my domain (I love the sound of that, kind of like my kingdom), where I will share reflections of the many facets of my life. At the very least, I am a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, homemaker, teacher, counselor, and grant writer. Through the years, I have been professionally cut and polished or just accidental fractured into thousands of pieces and have thoughts about them all. I have found that I am writing for many reasons but mostly to share my small bits of wisdom. Come back often because each reflection will be different. My ultimate goal is to have a place where grant writers, grant reviewers and funders can network. So if you are into grant writing or grant reviewing please leave your name and email. Linda Beason

Peer Reviews

The peer review section is provided for those who are interested in being peer reviewers. I am not sure that all the contact information is current but you can always call the office and get current information.

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Category: Fractured Prism

Peer Reviewers Needed to Evaluate FY 2011 Talent Search

This information came today.

The Department of Education (Department) is seeking reviewers to evaluate discretionary grant
applications for the FY 2011 Talent Search (TS) Program competition.  See details at: 

                      http://www.ed.gov/programs/triotalent/index.html.

Because of the large numbers of applications anticipated, the technical review of eligible applications received under the TS Program competition will be conducted using three review sessions and each session will consist of two phases.  Phase one of each review session will consist of the on-line review of applications and will utilize the Department’s G-5 e-Reader electronic field reading system.  Phase two of the review will consist of Federally-subsidized travel to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for the paneling and finalization of the technical review forms for each of the assigned applications. Orientation webinars for the three FY 2011 Talent Search sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 10:00a.m–12:00p.m. and 2:00- 4:00p.m. and Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at  2:00- 4:00p.m. You are only required to attend one of the webinar to be eligible for consideration as a reviewer. Webinar links will be contained in a letter upon selection for this competition. The schedule of activities for each of the three sessions planned is as follows:

Session            Reviewers Notified     G-5 Reader Begins        On-site Panels
  1                      Dec, 27, 2010            Jan. 7, 2011            Jan. 31 – Feb.4, 2011
  2                      Jan. 24, 2011            Feb. 4, 2011            Feb.  28 – Mar 4, 2011
  3                      Feb. 18, 2011            Mar. 4, 2011            Mar. 28 – Apr 1, 2011

(Every reviewer must participate in a peer reviewer orientation session prior to starting the G-5-reading process.)PLEASE NOTE:  The success of this unique reading activity is dependent upon the commitment of the selected peer reviewers to fully participate in each of the time-sensitive scheduled activities.  Also, it is important to note that within three (3) days from the time your assigned applications appear on-line in the Department’s G-5 system, you are required to have three technical review forms completed, uploaded into the G-5 system, and ready for review by your assigned panel monitor.  The completed technical review forms must contain comments reflective of a thorough assessment of the applicants’ responses to each of the selection criteria as contained in the Project Narrative section of each application.  Only after your assigned panel monitor has determined that your work, thus far, is of an acceptable quality will you be allowed to continue with the G-5 system process and receive an invitation to come to the Washington, DC metropolitan area site for the completion of the session’s activities.  If your work is determined not to be of an acceptable level, you will be dismissed and a replacement reader will be added to your panel to complete the process. 

As noted above, the Department will use its electronic field reading system (G-5 System) for phase one of each of the sessions. The G-5 system electronic system is accessed through the Department’s Grants portal site.  Reviewers will access the assigned applications electronically. Three-member review panels will evaluate each application.  Reviewers will electronically enter comments and scores on each application via the G-5 system.  To ensure optimum participation, reviewers must have the following: (1) access to the Internet from their local review site via broadband or DSL (not a dial-up connection) to be able to talk on the telephone (not a cell phone) and access the Internet concurrently; (2) Internet Browser IE 5.5+, Netscape 6+ or FireFox 1+ (note: e-Reader is best viewed using Internet Explorer 5+); (3) Acrobat Reader for opening PDF documents; (4) Microsoft Word (if PDF package is not available); (5) cookies and JavaScript enabled in their browser; and (6) a Laser Printer is recommended.
Phase two of the peer review process will allow face-to-face on site panel discussions of each of the assigned applications.  All reviewers must participate in the on-site paneling sessions. During these sessions, reviewers will discuss each application, revise or modify comments, if necessary, and arbitrate any excessive score variances. Reviewers will use the on-site computer equipment to complete or make changes to the technical review forms as necessary.  Readers are allowed and encouraged to bring personal laptops, however, this is not required.  The Department will provide a bank of computers in a secured area at the review site where reviewers may complete their e-Reading tasks.

We are mindful of your busy schedule and encourage you to think carefully about your availability for this time-sensitive review process, which is described herein.  Reviewers must be available to devote a significant amount of time to this process and must complete all phase one and phase two activities by the target dates.
As a peer reviewer, you will be compensated for your services and therefore you are considered as a “temporary” contractor. You will be expected to comply with all of the requirements and expectations addressed in this document.

If you are interested in serving as a reviewer:
1.    Update your personal information and indicate your availability status for each session or any combinations of sessions for this competition in OPE’s Field Reader System (FRS) no later than December 17, 2010.  You must also certify that you do not have a potential conflict of interest.  Carefully read the “Conflict of Interest Form” on our Field Reader site. If you have any conflict, as described on the conflict of interest form, please select the “Unavailable” option when updating your personal information, as you will not be selected to serve as a reviewer for this competition.
We will notify you via e-mail (according to the schedule outlined above) if we select you as a peer reviewer for one or more of the review sessions.  We will send additional information about our e-Reader process, including information on how to participate in the appropriate peer reviewer webinar, to persons selected to serve as reviewers and alternates.  Information about the Department’s G-5 system is available at: http://www.G5.gov/.  The G-5 system includes a User Guide and a demonstration program available to assist reviewers in operating the software.
Each reviewer may be required to evaluate up to 10 applications that are up to 65 double-spaced pages each. Reviewers will receive an honorarium of $100.00 per completed application, plus $10.00 for supplies (paper/ink), per application reviewed.  [NOTE:  A completed application is one that has been independently reviewed and paneled, with requested changes made and accepted allowing for final clearance by Department staff.  The completion process also includes full participation in phase two of the on-site paneling process to be held in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.   Reviewers will not receive full compensation if this process is not fully completed and all conditions adhered to as outlined in this letter.] 

Peer reviewers will not receive any additional compensation for the five-day on site review conducted in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  Potential reviewers who participate in the orientation session and are selected as alternates but are not called upon to read will receive an honorarium of $100.

If you need assistance with the Field Reader process, please contact Joyce Thomas at 202-502-7662 or via email at joyce.thomas@ed.gov. We look forward to your prompt response as we prepare for this important review process.
Please indicate your availability status for this competition and update your personal information using OPE’s Field Reader System (FRS):  http://opeweb.ed.gov/frs.

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Changes

The grand old lady loses the leaves that she put on as Dad died.  The seasons change.

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Mangles

Grief seems to silently collect like dust around you when your guard is down or it can savagely leap out from strange corners when you least expect it.  For the last couple of weeks I have had the “mangles” (don’t look it up in the medical dictionary, it is just my word for things being all out of sorts).  Feeling my age and then some.  Among other ailments, I have a hurt foot and had to cry to get past the doctor’s efficient scheduling girl for an appointment.  It will probably quit hurting as soon as I get to the doctor’s office.  But in the interim, grief has grabbed me around the throat because it knows I am weak today. 

I took this picture from the window of my Dad’s hospital room when I was so clueless.  Surely it has some meaning…

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Time and Grant Writing

(More great grant writing tips from my friend and colleague, Dr. Nelson Alba.)

Before you start putting your grant application together make yourself a working plan.  First, make yourself a fast working plan of salient working steps on the grant. Most grants have a page limitation and required format such as number of pages, doubled space and in some cases type of font to use. Mark those down.

Page limitations require every word in the application is clean and related to the main argument you are making.  Acronym, abbreviation, or initials are a problem. Although they may save you some space in the long run they create a problem for the person reading your grant application.  The grant reader has a limited amount of time to read, analyze and make recommendations. The load may be from five to twelve grants followed by a discussion with other readers. Time is of the essence. In addition, grant readers are required to spell-out all names. Get the idea? If a reader has to stop and find out what an acronym means because he cannot remember, the blame is on you. Important, keep your reader happy. It pays off.

Remember, writing less and making sense is more difficult than writing more. A word on charts and graphs. Charts and graphs can be very helpful and adorns your work. Make sure you need a chart or graph and that they are clear and make sense where you use them. They can also take up a lot of room you may need for cogent information. Be selective and avoid the fancy stuff. Nobody has time for that.

Make sure critical information, and I mean critical information, used on a graph or chart is also included in the written section of your application. You may think you are being repetitious but that is why it is called critical information. Some folks don’t do well reading charts.

Again, above all, place your information and details in the place that was asked for. There is nothing a grant reader enjoys more than an orderly application. One final word, if you want to finish quickly, take your time and you will not have as many corrections. As Napoleon use to say to his valet “Take your time dressing me, I’m in a hurry!”

 Good hunting.

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The Old Cowboy

This is a true story I have heard many times from my good friend and grant writing business partner, Diane Morton.  She has a unique way of writing and always makes me laugh.  I asked her to share this story because I can’t convince her to start her own blog.  I hope you enjoy the story as it tells a lot about Western Oklahoma and a long tradition of honoring the dead…whoever they are.

Now, just do not go saying, “who cares about an ‘old cowboy’?”  When it comes to the “old cowboy,” the Moad family has a heap of love.  When I was a young girl about 7 or 8 years old, my Grandma (Moad) Hibler, and her daughters would gather me, my sisters and cousins all up and state, “It is time to decorate the family graves”.  (I have come to believe that only females have the honor of decorating as none of the men or boys ever participated.)  Being so young, we thought of it as an adventure and fun day. From the moment of arrival for performing the yearly ritual, the adults carefully prepared snacks, water, and last but not least, the wreaths.  Grandma always stated that she did not want to leave out the “old cowboy”!

The first stop was Red Hill Cemetery where our first mistake was stepping on a grave.  If I remember right, we jumped from the car and all the “hollering commenced”.  We had all committed the unpardonable sin.  “You stepped on a grave!!”   Right then, Grandma started teaching us little heathens the first law concerning cemeteries.  She told us that now that poor person was wondering who had stepped on their grave and become restless.  Needless to say, this is when the nightmares started.   

Before a wreath or flowers could be put on the grave, we were told the reason of their demise: Poor Lora Moad died in childbirth; Marquis Moad died in a horrible car accident in Arkansas; and little Karren Sue died of leukemia. 

We little girls were standing around all sad and anxiously awaiting the decorating time to be over, when out of my own mother’s mouth came, “Diane, Karren Sue would be your age and she was only about a year old when she died”.  I thought to myself, this is really sad.  Then, the words of horror happened, “I used to take you by her mom’s and let you nurse her until she dried up.” 

“My gosh, YOU did WHAT???   Dried up from what???  Childhood!!!”

After we decorated all the relatives and friends in Red Hill, it was off to Kiowa Cemetery and the “old cowboy”.  The granddaughters were all curious but none of us had the courage to ask.  Grandma was already in her sentimental/cemetery mood and tears were falling.  This is where her parents were buried. When Grandma’s parents married, they had to take on three of her mother’s children because she was dying of cancer.    Her mama had come from Pennsylvania and her dad was a U.S. Marshall.  She talked about the “night riders” coming in the night to try and lynch a prisoner.  She told how Aunt Addie (her sister) had been murdered by her husband and how the family members chased him in an old coupe.  When they found the coward, he had killed himself.  “Good enough for him,” she would say.  Next, was Uncle Willie who had lost his arm in a cotton ginning machine.  Uncle Tommy had the flu and died. Her dad had gone out to the barn and built his little coffin.    These stories have left their impressions to this day. 

Curiosity became too much and we all wanted the story about the “old cowboy”!  Grandma said first things first.  Decorating the grave was the first and most important thing.  I have seen that woman pluck a flower from a wreath of the family in order that the “old cowboy” had a flower for his grave.  We girls were thinking this has to be our own family’s version of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne, etc.  “Well, girls this is the old cowboy” and we answered, “Yes, we know.”  “He rode into Kiowa (a small rural community), fell over and died.” 

“WHAT???” 

“No one ever knew his name.  The sheriff sold his horse and saddle and gave it to the undertaker to bury him.  He needed a place for his final rest and the Moad family donated this grave site right in the middle of all the family.  We should never forget to decorate his grave as he has become a part of our family.” 

Guess what—the “girls”…Kaye, Sherry, Donna, and I still go to the cemeteries (we have added several more) around Memorial Day and go through the yearly ritual recalling how Grandma taught us at an early age to honor and remember our deceased relatives.  Grandma would be proud, never once have we forgotten the “old cowboy”.   

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Worst Grant Review Ever! Or Did They Ever Do Me Wrong!

I would like to use this blog as a resource for grant writers, grant reviewers and grant funders.  At present, the baby is still in the incubator but I hope to bring it up to be a big strong resource for all of us.  I want it to be a place where everyone can provide their best advice and vent when they feel the need.  I want lots of input from grant writers and grant reviewers (and even funders).  As a grant writer, I know there have been many times when I really just wanted to be able to talk to the reviewer and say (loudly), “YOU DIDN’T FIND WHAT????  HOW could you miss IT?  How could I have made it any clearer?” And as a grant reviewer, there are a lot of things I want to say, which I have started in my Grant Writing 101 posts but it may take me a long time!  Let’s start here…leave me a comment about your worst comment from a grant reviewer.  In the next blog we will turn it around and let the reviewers tell you about the worst proposal they ever read (no names or locations please).

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Grant Writing 101 – The Importance of Formatting

When responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP), it is important to follow the formatting guidelines.  These usually include margins, font size, line spacing, page limitations and page numbering. Keep in mind these are actually guidelines and NOT suggestions.  Most departments do not allow reviewers to take off points for not following the guidelines but reviewers really want to, especially if you are writing in an eight point font!  There are reviewers who tend to score more severely because you are straining their already overburdened eyes or because they just cannot read that small font.  If you are going to cheat on the font, it is wise to not go beyond what is clearly obvious to the naked eye.  Most reviewers do not bring a magnifying glass to the review so you might be safe with an 11 point font as opposed to 12.   And while it may not be a guideline, please do not use a cutesy, squirrelly font that distracts from your proposal.  Keep it clean and professional.

During the peer reviewer orientation for every review, someone always asks if they can count off points for the formatting.  The answer is always no.  However, there are those diligent departments who like to keep things fair and they have either removed all pages beyond the page limit or tell the reviewer not to read beyond the page limitation (and then there are those peer reviewers who just take it on themselves not to read past the allotted number of pages). As a grant writer, you are taking a big chance by going past the page limit as chances are very good that significant information will not be read (such as the entire evaluation section worth 10 points).

Keep in mind that you must get a good score from the reviewer before you will be considered by the funding agency.  Give the reviewer everything they need to award you maximum scores.  Make your proposal easy to read and easy to follow.  Be sure you follow the guidelines and the scoring criteria (in the exact order that it is presented in the RFP).  The reviewers do not award the money but they get you to the place that does–make them happy and everybody is happy.

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The Ghost Train

I live near a small, rural town in Western Oklahoma.  All around are rolling green hills with dirt as red as the blood of Chief Blackkettle’s people and horses when Custer came to call.  On that day, they say that the Washita River ran red with the blood of hundreds of slaughtered horses.  Today the river winds peacefully through lush fields and past towering drilling rigs.  (more…)

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Grant Writing 101: Goals and Objectives for Vampire Slaying

Once you have clearly established need for a specific Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) or grant application, it is time to determine a goal and develop measurable objectives.  For example, your need section has established that your targeted population is a small rural village with 500 people and neighboring vampires are picking off villagers at a rate of one per week (United States Department of Vampires 2010 report).  Your goals are to: (more…)

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Grant Writing 101: Need or How to Have Them at Hello

Usually one of the first criteria to be addressed by all government Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) is the Need Section.  This is your first opportunity to dazzle the reviewers with your brilliance.  However, this is no place for your “poor pitiful Pearl” stories.  When you are writing for the government they are immune to your hardships as they have hundreds of applications with stories just as needy as yours.  (more…)

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