Grant Not Eloquent Enough

The federal government denied two northwestern North Dakota after-school programs a education grant due to a lack of clear and convincing writing.

Programs in North Dakota’s educationally strained oil patch and on the Fort Berthold reservation have been left scrambling without money from the federal government.

The federal government enforces a rule that after-school programs should receive federal money on a competitive basis.

And that competitive basis means that those who are the most eloquent and convincing not those in the most need receive federal dollars.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has released information that the Great Northwest Community After School Program and the Boys and Girls Club of the Three Affiliated Tribes did not receive the 21st Century after-school program grant due to a low score from out-of-state reviewers.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant is funded by the federal government and legislated by Title IV, Part B of the No Child Left Behind Act.

To receive a grant is a competitive process which means that some programs may not be funded.

In May 2012, the United States Department of Education audited North Dakota’s 21st CCLC program and found their competition was not truly competitive.

The North Dakota CCLC office had to create a more competitive process and prove to the Department of Education that grants were awarded competitively.

Applications for funding this year were due in April. Ten applications were received, which were reviewed by external out-of-state peer reviewers who were trained and had extensive knowledge of the program. The reviewers scored each application.

Six of the applications received high enough scores from the reviewers to receive the grant. The remaining four were given a second chance at competition since funds were still available. The four remaining programs were given the opportunity to see a scoring rubric and were told their score must be higher the second time.

The competition was shortened, but the same peer review process was held as in round one.

The Great Northwest Community After School Program and the Boys and Girls Club of the Three Affiliated Tribes received lower scores than in the first round and were not awarded the grant.

The two other applicants met requirements and received the grant.

The DPI did not choose the recipients of the grant. If it awarded grants that did not meet federal requirements, it could jeopardize all federal funding.

The applications were scored in six areas: need for the project, quality of project design, adequacy of resources, quality of management plan, quality of project evaluation and quality of partnerships. Each area had several questions, and each was scored on a scale from zero to five, depending on the quality of the evidence given.

Districts impacted by the denial of the 21st century grant to the Great Northwest Community After School Program include Williston District No. 1, New District No. 8, Eight Mile District No. 6 in Trenton and Divide County District in Crosby. The Boys and Girls Club of the Three Affiliated Tribes in New Town was also denied the grant.

(Article written by Sara Spaulding for the Williston Herald)