Acquiring mental health program funding has always been a challenge for institutions of higher education. This is compounded by the naturally higher stakes nature of students entering higher education (Not sure what you mean here. I also don’t think it follows the first point. Maybe add why it’s hard to get funding and continue with “students face more anxiety because of the demands of the inst.”). Anxiety from maintaining grades and income and dealing with bills and budgeting for the first time (add separation from social networks?) create a perfect storm of mental health stressors that can push even the strongest of students to the breaking point. The Coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated this issue. Students are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and depression never seen before. As a result of this pandemic, more resources are being allocated to mental health programs, with increased funding opportunities you can use to address these new challenges to meet the needs of your students.
Various types of grant funds currently exist. Access will vary based on institution type, project type, duration, and location. Below are some available funding opportunities, along with our recommendations on where to search.
- VOCA – Victims of Crime Act grants are allocated to states to fund programs supporting crime victims. Funding goes towards training programs and mental health support services. Institutions can apply for these funds through their states to institute trauma-informed approaches and resilience solutions. The College of New Jersey has successfully used these funds to create a student resilience campaign on campus.
- HEERF 84.425M – The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund has been divided into many parts to address the various challenges experienced by institutions. One grant component supports schools implementing programs that address Coronavirus-related costs and is open for rolling applications until July 12th. Various HEERF grants are available with different application due dates. Consult with your institution’s grant writing staff to ensure you meet the Department of Education’s criteria.
- State Resilience Funds – Some states are investing in resiliency throughout their community. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have both established internal offices for distributing grants to programs seeking to improve resilience throughout the state through resiliency and trauma-informed approaches.
- Open Applications – State departments of education are approaching the end of their fiscal years and may have money left over. Open applications to these departments can provide them with an outlet for “use it or lose it” funding. Even without a specific grant application, proposing innovative mental health solutions and supporting students during their return to campus can provide departments with an easy funding opportunity.
Grant Application Tips
Below are some tips and tricks from grant writers in higher education and mental health advocacy groups.
- Focus on Deliverables and Analysis: There are always more applications for funds than there are funds to go around. Offering a proposal with clear deliverables and built-in milestones for progress takes the guesswork out of the funder’s hands. Artifacts of project deployment also benefit the funding organizations and tend to attract more attention during the proposal process.
- Multidisciplinary Approaches: Proposals that focus on a single area of mental health or that cater to narrow causes may be considered “smaller impact” by funding organizations. Promoting projects that have a multidisciplinary application may increase interest. Campus-wide programs that touch on multiple departments and draw from resources throughout the institution are safer bets for funders.
- Multi-Year Commitments: Short-term proposals are typically seen as “experiments” instead of commitments by institutions. Applying for funding that extends beyond the minimum possible timeframe shows institutional buy-in and makes the project easier to fund in the future. In the case of programs where grant opportunities have dried up, multi-year commitments also increase the likelihood of community or alumni support to maintain student-centric programs.
The Resiliency Project is committed to helping your institution fund student resiliency projects on your campuses. To that end, we have aligned our model to support grant funding and will make the following commitments to schools seeking to use grant funding for the Student Resilience Toolkit.
- Our knowledge database will provide analysis tools to help you conduct evaluations on your school’s rollout of resilience initiatives. These tools are validated and have previously been the basis of peer-reviewed publications in trauma-informed student resilience research.
- As our community of schools grows, we will continue to build our database of best practices, sample media, and training supplies. We understand that showing clear and concise success stories helps you justify these initiatives.
- Billing practices at The Resiliency Project support long-term deployments. We will ensure that extended toolkit deployments are met with discounts to increase your dollars’ value by giving you access to our new technology throughout testing, which protects you from increased costs.
If you are considering using grant funding to pay for the Student Resilience Toolkit, we encourage you to reach out. We will provide you with our current evidence overview, a letter from one of the primary researchers behind our program, and more assistance with the project proposal!