Federal Funding Facts

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

U.S. Rep. Sanchez urged those interested in federal 
funding opportunities to contact her office for help navigating
the system.

U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who represents California’s 47th congressional district, sponsored a standing-room-only federal grants workshop at Calit2 yesterday.  Focused on obtaining funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the workshop gave researchers and representatives from public agencies a list of tips and tricks, as well as actions to avoid.

In her introduction, Sanchez told participants that earmarks, which previously were used to fund many of these types of projects, are no longer available. In addition, all funding is under careful scrutiny, so she urged participants to contact her office’s grants coordinator, Michelle Wynne. “Michelle is there to ensure continuity exists,” she said. “We want you to win and win big.”

Kay Strawder, women’s health coordinator for the department’s Region IX Office on Women’s Health, told workshop participants that there is money available if they know where to look and apply according to each opportunity’s established criteria.

Twenty-five percent of all federal funding each year comes from DHHS, she said. And although funding is obtainable, the process is sometimes confusing and always competitive.

Paul Blair and Adam O'Neill demonstrating his navigational system for the blind.

Strawder advised those seeking grants to sign up for DHHS newsletters and email updates; participate in webinars, summits and conferences; and download data reports from the agency’s website. She also suggested using the grants.gov website and volunteering for grant review committees to “learn the process from the inside out.”

In addition, Strawder provided a list of actions guaranteed to disqualify proposals. Among them: exceeding page limits, submitting the wrong font size, page margins, budget information and/or number of copies; omitting signatures and not completing contact information requirements.

The good news: “Successful grant writing can be learned,” she concluded. And if your proposal is unsuccessful, “ask for the reviewer’s comments, to learn what you need to fix next time.” The workshop’s other speakers included Darrick Lam, representing DDHS’s Administration for Community Living; Shahdy Monemzadeh, program specialist from the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and Nancy Lewis, director of UCI’s Office of Sponsored Projects.

Paul Blair and Ravi Singh.

Meanwhile, Sanchez toured the Calit2 eHealth Collaboratory, where she viewed several research projects in development; and heard presentations from several Calit2-affiliated professors. Presenters included the iMove Center’s Dave Reinkensmeyer; Mark Bachman, who discussed eHealth applications; Abe Lee, who shared advances underway in the MF3 Center; and Jay Famiglietti, representing the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling, who used the Visualization Lab’s Hiperwall display to present his water research.

Before calling it a day, Sanchez also visited the National Fuel Cell Research Center, the Rapid Technologies Lab, The Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and the UCI MIND Institute, and sat in on a UCI public health course.