Granting a Helping Hand

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Educational Research Institute Helps Secure Funds for Organizations

It may be hard to believe, but a team of 10 individuals have used the power of words alone to secure $269,464,797 in grants over the last 15 years.

“We have assisted colleges, universities, schools, municipalities, hospitals, nonprofits, and even private sectors in receiving funds,” said Linda V. Alaniz, president of the Educational Research Institute. “I would have to say that the most satisfying part of my work is being able to secure funding that creates opportunities for organizations to expand their services beyond what they are already doing.”

Although there are a variety of grants available through numerous funding agencies, each grant has its own goal and purpose. When grants become available, eligibility requirements for applicants are the first determining factor for whether an organization gets an award. The Educational Research Institute (ERI) provides grant-writing services, grant training, and grant evaluation services designed to assist agencies in applying and meeting the qualifications of state, federal, and private grant applications.

“The grants that we secure typically allow for professional development (hiring and/or training existing employees), technology, and travel funds,” Alaniz said. “It is very common that the organizations do not have the local monies to fund these items and will do without them for as long as they have to.”

The ERI team is composed of 10 full-time employees, along with professional grant evaluators, administrators, professors, and field practitioners who offer grant evaluation, management, writing, and other related professional consulting and strategic planning services to hundreds of agencies throughout the United States.

“In addition, we provide technical assistance and support in doing external evaluations, on-site reports, and researching the effects that take place in programs that are awarded,” Alaniz said.

A Knack For Grants

ERI was established in 2001 based on Alaniz’s previous history and experience in grant writing. Alaniz holds a Master of Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies in sociology and a Bachelor of Science in education. Before founding ERI, she worked with Texas State Technical College–Harlingen, the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College, and Rio Hondo ISD. During her tenure at these agencies, she was charged with leadership roles along with the writing and competing for grants.

“The very first grant I wrote was the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant for Rio Hondo ISD,” Alaniz said. “As with any project, the first time was nerve wracking. The pressure was all on me to acquire the funding necessary for the district to be able to offer after-school programming for its students. This grant was highly sought-after, and schools across the entire United States were competing.”

After successfully securing funds for the school in the amount of $3.6 million over the course of five years, she realized that she had a talent in grant writing and decided to establish her own independent business. Since the inception of the Educational Research Institute, Alaniz’s team has secured more than 269 million dollars for colleges, universities, schools, municipalities, hospitals, and nonprofits with a success rate of 80 percent.

Although they have already worked with Alabama, Arkansas, and even Canada, ERI is looking forward to expanding beyond Texas to the remaining 47 states in the very near future. “Our office is open and willing to help any organization in applying for funding,” Alaniz said. “There is no project that is too big for ERI to handle.”

If any organization has identified a funding source that they would like to apply for, they should contact ERI at (956) 365-4100 or learn more at www.erigrants.com.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-2-06-58-pmImprove Your Odds with these tips from ERI! 

  • Know Your Eligibility: Some grants have requirements for applicants such as classification as an institution of higher education or nonprofit agency, or demographic target (must serve a population of at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged, etc.) “However, there are a multitude of grants and foundations available and we would love to help any organization try to secure funding, when possible,” Alaniz said. “Any agency who is considering applying for funding, especially non-profit organizations, should ensure they have at least two years of financial statements.”
  • Past Experience and Success: It is important that all organizations record their notable experiences and maintain a track record of their successes from the onset of their establishment. These statistics are important in showing how successful the organization has been and what it has accomplished over the years. For example, if the organization’s goal is to reduce homelessness, then it should be tracking how many homeless people it serves on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis. The organization should also be keeping track of where these individuals placed in a shelter, where they were fed and how often, and whether any skills were taught to help them acquire and sustain a job.
  • Buy-In: For those who have never worked with or managed a grant, it is a group effort to make it successful. Therefore, it is extremely important that the organization has “buy-in” or support from its staff, directors, board members, and others, as well as the community. ERI recommends that the organization always solicit feedback from these individuals to ensure that everyone will do their part in helping meet the goals and objectives denoted in the grant.
  • In-Kind Services: When the grant requires in-kind match, ERI suggests a non-cash contribution such as services to be provided or the labor of people assigned to assist with grant functions. These include custodians, business office personnel, or administrators. Other in-kind services may include utilities and facilities where the grant program will be offered.