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City of Seattle

September 12, 11:54 AM click here to comment > 2

Preserving and expanding grant funding through efficient government

The City Council, City employees and I are committed to providing excellent public service. The difficult economic climate we face requires us to look for ways to more efficiently deliver those services. We’ve already had to make cuts to city services as a result of constrained revenues. As we looked at the projections for 2012, it was clear that more cuts were going to be necessary. But I wanted to avoid this when it comes to the grant dollars the City provides to community groups. Simple stop gap measures, one-time fixes, and reductions on the margins, would not yield the cost savings we needed to protect direct services, such as our community granting programs. We had to find a better way to cut our costs so that we could maximize our efforts to support community projects and promote economic recovery.

That’s why I directed our departments to take a closer look at the way we deliver our community granting programs, to see if there were ways we could improve our operations. As a community leader myself, I knew that programs have been designed and implemented in a way that made sense at one point in time, but that structure may not make sense any longer.

What we found was that our granting process wasn’t as efficient as it needed to be. If members of the public wanted funding from the city to help get an innovative project off the ground, there was no single place for them to go. The city currently offers a multitude of community granting opportunities spread across different departments – arts grants, technology grants, neighborhood grants, recycling grants, and economic development grants – each with their own administrative structure. And, these administrative structures are costly. In some cases these administrative costs were as high as 57%. Most non-profits aim to get their costs under 15%. The application process was burdensome for the public and inefficient for the City.

It was clear that we needed to operate our granting functions more efficiently, better align functions in the City, break down silos between departments, allow easy access for citizens and community applicants, improve customer service, and direct potential savings from efficiencies back into funding available for grants.

As part of the 2012 budget, a new Community Grant division will be created in the Department of Neighborhoods to consolidate grant functions, improve access to City funding and lower administrative costs. The new division will administer the following grants:

o Neighborhood Matching Fund community grants
o Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle grant program
o Seattle Public Utilities’ Waste Prevention and Recycling grant program
o Department of Information Technology Tech Matching Fund grants

Those grant programs aren’t going away, and we won’t be cutting the amount of money they can offer. Instead they will be under the same roof, where they can be aligned to support a wider range of innovative, creative projects around the City. More money can be delivered to projects, with less administrative cost. In addition, grant programs of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs will be working with the Department of Neighborhoods to assist them in making access to grants by the public easier and more efficient, although they won’t be directly consolidated.

This approach will help us serve the public better, deliver funding more efficiently, and will save the city money. In fact, for 2012, these changes will generate enough savings to increase the grant dollars going out the door. In this economy, sensible and innovative solutions like these are more important than ever.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

Comments

Comment from Selena
Time September 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Great job!

Comment from Aaron McCartney
Time September 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Sounds like a good move to eliminate redundancy. Is there a link to information on the City Grants that are available? I am working on a fairly unique project right now that I would love to see if it fit with any of the grants that the city presently has available.