Winning and Managing School Safety Grants

Corona-Norco USD’s Steven Ellis describes the steps he and his district took to obtain grant funding and properly manage the projects stemming from those grants.

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Campus Safety Voices, available on Spotify and Apple streaming platforms, features timely conversations on a wide range of topics affecting K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and healthcare facilities.

Federal, state and local government grants are excellent sources of funding for K-12 school and college security, public safety and emergency management programs. This type of funding can pay for security technology, such as video surveillance systems, mental health programs, officer training and more.

When applying for grants, it’s important to know what to do, but you must also understand the mistakes you should avoid. The biggest mistake is not applying at all because you are overwhelmed by the application process. Not following instructions and keeping your request within the scope of the specific grant is another faux pas.

And then there is the lack of an evaluation component in the grant application. If yours doesn’t clearly and quantifiably state how your proposed program’s success will be measured, your application is much more likely to be rejected.

Another mistake is using boilerplate grant application templates. Although these templates can be helpful in getting your process started, a cookie-cutter approach might not be credible with the review panel.

Additionally, only going after large sums of money and not checking lesser-known sources of funding is another common mistake.

Finally, getting discouraged when you don’t receive an award is another error. Instead of giving up, ask the review panel to provide comments on why your application was not approved. This information should help you learn from your mistakes and provide better proposals in the future.

One K-12 district that has had a lot of success in applying for grants is the Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) in Riverside County, California.

Steven Ellis, who is CNUSD’s coordinator of campus security and safety (as well as a Director of the Year finalist this year and last year), has won several grants aimed at improving safety and security on his district’s many campuses.

In my interview with Ellis, he describes the grants his district has been awarded, the steps he and his district took to win those grants, as well as how he and his team manage the grants they’ve won.

The Director of the Year winner will be announced at this year's Campus Safety Conference being held in San Antonio, Texas, July 21-23. Click here for more information and to register!

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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