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Posts tagged ‘government’

Proposal winning strategies – 7 tips

DaphnesGrant

[Pictured at left is an actual grant application Daphne wrote and submitted, directing a small team of clinicians and support staff. Daunting, no?]

 

Background: Daphne Street is a multi-million dollar award-winning grant and proposal writer, with more than a decade of experience in winning proposals spanning myriad fields within the nonprofit and for profit industries. From the fine and performing arts to substance abuse and mental health services and from technology developers  to transportation services, Daphne has helped transform businesses through establishing new revenue streams and fostering profitable partnerships. Far too often, Daphne says, companies are content on submitting proposals without doing the work needed to truly be competitive and win the game. Here are 7 winning tips from Daphne:

7 Tips for Winning Proposals

  1. Do what you’re told. Read, follow directions and gather appropriate content. Never skim an application. Completing award applications and proposals are not the time to get creative, decide certain questions are superfluous or bluff your way through. You must be exacting in every minute detail: from composition and submission instructions, to addressing every detail in the scope of services and search every section to discover additional areas you need to address.
  2. Points matter. If an RFP assigns points to certain sections or questions, calculate those compared to the word count. The more points assigned to a question or section should get a higher percentage of your word count dedicated to it. It is formulaic and expected.
  3. Information gathering. Do not attempt to do this on your own unless you solely have ownership of the vault that holds all of your company’s data and are its universal content expert. More likely, you have accountants, program/department heads, specialists and industry experts on your team that can provide invaluable content to strengthen your proposal. Take the time to engage them and be specific about the type of information you need from them.
  4. Money. Your financials and budget are often the strongest and most highly weighted sections of your application. Your financials tell a complete story of your company’s financial health and whether your company is a good investment for funding. This includes tax returns, independent audits, etc. Your budget is usually what really sets you apart from the competition, and there is no shortcut for developing a winning budget: analyze ALL of your costs associated with a project and pitch a budget that is as tight as you can get it while still making a profit. In terms of for profit government proposals, you tend to make your money on volume over ticket price, so consider that when you calculate your estimated profits.
  5. Interpretation. Reading between the lines is critical in winning applications. This requires skill and experience to know exactly what questions mean and the data, details, interpretations and focus points to include within proposal responses along with the best ways to present that information, using graphics, logic models, flow charts and time tables, etc. to drive key messages.
  6. Value-added. This is where proposals are won. What additional, extraordinary benefits and features are you bringing to the table? What is unique about your offering that sets you above the competition? Skilled proposal writers know how to sniff out these details and highlight them in writing in compelling ways. From your narrative to your budget, value-added wins every time.
  7. Hire an expert. Especially when you are dealing with high stakes, it’s worth the investment to use the expertise of a pro. They often don’t come cheap, and it’s important to vet them properly, but they know the tricks of the trade that can augment your chances of winning exponentially. While there is never a guarantee that your application will win, the outstanding news is that your investment in an expert proposal writer never goes to waist unless you fully scrap your project. The application they pull together often can be repurposed to submit for various funding opportunities. It’s never a “one size fits all” job—there will be significant time spent rewriting sections and addressing varied specifications and scopes of services, but you will often find subsequent applications written to support the same project far less cumbersome.
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Roundup of recent published articles

Let’s start with politics…

Now for some other stuff – stuff about my hometown, St. Petersburg!

[Note: I do not control editing of my work – some are edited with a heavier hand than others. Some are unedited. It’s a mixed bag, but sometimes the editing can leave choppy copy, so I apologize for that.]

Run-down on St. Pete Pier topics–prep for tonight’s ‘input meeting’

I have rarely seen a modern issue as divisive in the City ofSt. Pete as the one that exists now regarding the St. Petersburg Pier. As a native to this town, I am torn between wanting to honor tradition and wanting a symbol for the city’s future and progress. After all, my father,Thomas H. Street, was a prolific artist—mostly a muralist—inSt. Petersburg, and one of his best-known murals rests steady on a circular wall, overhead from the first floor, depicting the many faces of the St. Petersburg Pier through its history. Apparently, its concept was a short-sighted history; it seems a panel should have been left blank, allowing room for the future. Yet, when the demolition begins, I suppose it won’t matter much.

History and sentiment aside, I also am as confused as many are about what facts are really facts. With so much contradictory information floating about, I found myself having difficulty keeping everything straight. Today, another “public input” meeting is set (Tuesday, June 12 at6 p.m.at EnochDavisCenter,1111 18th Ave. S.), and in honor of this, I wanted to put together a rundown of content on the Pier issue. Here are some highlights for review:

“The ‘Lens’ contract was approved at the St. Petersburg City Council meeting yesterday by a 7 to 1 vote, but that likely won’t be the last you hear of this. A local group has formed—you may have heard of them – voteonthepier.com. It appears that the group is well on its way to collecting the 16,000 signatures needed on their petition to meet the threshold. While that may sound intimidating, as though City Council should be shaking in their boots that the people are going to rise up in numbers and could potentially vote to undo the years of work, beginning in 1996 followed by 68 specific meetings and public hearings, that lead to where we are today, finally signing a contract for a new Pier. However, City Attorney John Wolfe said that the language used in the petition from votefothepier.org would not require the city to offer this issue up to a public vote no matter how many signatures they collect.”

“Below is my Twitter feed from yesterday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting about the Pier issue, using “Storify.”

“Before we get to the fact-checking of Foster’s “facts”, we wanted to share some of the details we learned after filling our brains with pier task-force information, and other related data on the pier: The $50 million that has been earmarked was intended to address the Pier approach and the Pier head, but the not the Pier building itself (City Council instructed the pier task force in 2008 to consider all options, including demolishing the pier)”

“Mayor Bill Foster released some more “Pier Facts” today in his sometimes-weekly weekly forecast email, so we thought we would go through these and see if he was any more truthful on these new facts than he was on the “facts” he released last week in his shiny “facts” brochure. If you haven’t read our post from Monday, please take a few minutes to read it, there is a lot of good background information in there. “The Pier Approach… and the Pier Head were built in 1926. According to engineering assessments, these portions of the Pier are continuing to diminish in their ability to bear weight, and will have to be closed within two years.” We haven’t seen anyone anywhere debate you on this Mayor Foster, everyone agrees that the pier approach and head need to be replaced.”

“Today, the City of St. Petersburg awkwardly launched a fancy new website dedicated to the new Lens Pier design, and wouldn’t you know it, a few of Foster’s misleading “pier facts” and some new revisionist history appears(and then was deleted) on the new website too. We say “awkwardly launched” because they didn’t check to see that the new website was working before announcing it, so for the first couple of hours, people that went to the new website only saw these two words “Under Development”, and they even managed to send everyone five copies of the City’s weekly email newsletter today which also announced the website, just another PR stumble for the Mayor we guess. Also, it looks like they removed the link from the city’s website to the original pier competition page, so we’ve included that link for you here so you can go look at the critique and analysis of how their Lens Phase 1 proposal was over budget and inadequate in several ways.”

“We would like to thank the people behind voteonthepier.com for giving us (the Bill Foster Watch) the exclusive on this story. Through their research they have contacted a former reporter from the St. Petersburg Times from back in 2009. Cristina Silva coveredSt.   Petersburgpolitics for the Times back then, and when she was told about Mayor Foster’s current push to demolish the Pier and not hold a referendum, and how that conflicts with this article that she wrote during the 2009 race for Mayor, she had the following to say…”

“St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has drawn the line in the sand for voteonthepier.com supporters—a group that has collected over 14,000 petitions to have a public vote to help save the St. Petersburg Pier in its full inverted pyramid style. By June 11th, Foster says the group must submit the nearly 16,000 petitions necessary to have the vote included on the November 6th ballot. The June 11 date was determined by working backwards, said Foster. It includes the time needed for the petitions to be processed and for the City Council to consider an ordinance to put the measure on this November’s ballot.”

“For the Mayor to arbitrarily come up with this deadline is ridiculous,” Lambdon said in an interview with Patch. “It’s clear why he wants to do it. To try and promote an ill-conceived and unsupported “Lens” pier.”

“Public input on the fate of the St. Pete Pier seems less likely now that organizers of a petition drive failed to deliver the 16,000 signatures required to have the issue possibly put on November’s ballot. In a letter dated May 24, Mayor Bill Foster set June 11 as the deadline for votethepier.com founder Thomas Lambdon to turn in the petitions to the city clerk. “I am trying to give them the best possible chance of getting this in front of council members and on the ballot,” said Foster.”

“According to Mayor Bill Foster’s calculations, Monday was the beginning of the end for the group trying to force a vote on the Pier, which is set to be replaced. Foster had given voteonthepier.com a June 11 deadline to submit the almost 16,000 petitions needed to get on the Nov. 6 ballot. But Monday came and went without a single petition delivered to City Hall. Wengay Newton, who is the sole council member against the new $50 million Pier and who signed the first petition in 2010, called Foster’s deadline arbitrary.”

Credit for the format of this piece goes to Peter Schorsch of Saint PetersBlog–I borrowed liberally from his style. Full disclosure: I am a freelance writer often published through Saint PetersBlog–some of my articles are included in the listing above.

First Pier public input meeting to be held this evening at the Coliseum 7:00 p.m.

The Lens, pier design

The City of St. Petersburg is moving forward with the Lens design for the new St. Petersburg Pier, although Mayor Foster has set a deadline for organizers of voteonthepier.com. They must collect nearly 16,000 petitions by June 11th for the issue to go on the November ballot for a public vote. Recently the group reported that they had upwards of 14,000 petitions and climbing. 

Meanwhile, city officials are forging ahead with their plans for a new Pier. This includes hosting four meetings in June to gather input to refine the Lens concept. The first meeting will be held Thursday, June 7 at 6 p.m. at The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.

City Council voted on May 17 to enter into an agreement with Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc. for design and construction of the new St. Petersburg Pier. Other meeting dates/locations include June 12 at Enoch Davis Center, June 14 at J.W. Cate Recreation Center, and June 19 at Lake Vista Recreation Center. All meetings begin at 6 p.m.

St. Pete’s GREEN tint

Do you know all about the GREEN efforts in St. Petersburg, Florida?

Recently, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster along with the St. Petersburg City Council have been hosting public budget summits to offer the community an opportunity to speak up on what they consider top priorities to help address the city’s budget deficit. Overwhelmingly, people have expressed that they would prefer to pay more versus having services cut in the city—though they also would like some assurance that the city is using its funding as efficiently as possible in the process.

To this end, several community members expressed that they think the city needs to have a stronger focus on “going green” to not only help the environment but also to help cut energy costs for the city. Foster quickly interjected that St. Petersburg has many green initiatives; that the city has accomplished a lot with plans to do more.

And, on May 29th, the city held a ribbon cutting ceremony at The Coliseum (one of 21 city facilities) to recognize the successful completion of the city’s most recent green energy-saving investments.

New solar panels for water heater systems, HVAC systems, chiller plant replacements, and lighting retrofits were installed at the Coliseum and City Hall. It is reported that these green changes will save $22,117 annually in energy costs.

The May 29th ceremony was an opportunity for the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County officials, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and local contractors to gather, recognizing the completion of projects valued at $2.38 million.

The funding source for the energy saving projects, which began in 2010, was the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The City of St. Petersburg reports that over the years, the city has partnered with more than 25 local contractors, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and professional consultants to complete the city’s list of green initiative projects. Some of these projects include:

  • Jordan School renovation
  • Water Resources Administration building
  • LED Traffic Signal conversions
  • USF-SP and Progress Energy solar energy system
  • 13 Fire Station upgrades
  • Hybrid fleet and E-Z GO utility vehicles
  • 2,300 acres of public parks system
  • Water Conservation efforts
  • Earth-Friendly Recycling program
  • 10 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations installed downtown

As Florida’s first green city, St. Petersburg continues to be a pioneer in its commitment to living green. In 2007, the city received its green designation and in 2008, the city adopted an Executive Order to focus on specific program areas, including:

  • Reporting of financial and emission reductions
  • Meeting LEED standards for large new construction or renovation projects undertaken by the city
  • Using alternative fuels
  • Converting street lighting system to more energy efficient systems
  • Developing and implementing a prototype solar project

More information on St. Petersburg’s green initiative can be found at: www.stpete.org/green.

 

‘Lens’ design contract approved by St. Petersburg City Council–New Pier

The ‘Lens’ – City of St. Petersburg

Below is my Twitter feed from yesterday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting about the Pier issue, using “Storify.”

  1. DaphneSt
    #stpete All council members vote yes on Pier resolution except for W. Newton. Motion passes.
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:24:06
  2. The ‘Lens’ design contract was therefore approved by council.
  3. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Curran “it’s easy to sign a petition-it’s difficult 2get involved” We want a project integrated in the com & downtown
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:21:18
  4. Councilmember Curran is making a case for public involvement versus criticism. She defended the ‘Lens’ design that was criticized by some in the audience as “not traditional-looking enough for downtown,” and cited the Dali Museum structure and its success and the forward-thinking design that the inverted pyramid was in its time. She also stressed that the new Pier is to be a project integrated in the community and downtown. Curran also conceded that the city needed to have done a much better job in communicating with and educating the public throughout the process, from beginning to now.
  5. DaphneSt
    #stpete Pier issue–Newton says that no one who wants to continue their political career will go against 16,000 votes. Re: #voteonthepier
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:15:22
  6. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember W Newton “I’m definately not voting for this. If the people can’t vote, Wengay ain’t voting.” Tweeting on Pier meeting
    Thu, May 17 2012 19:12:02
  7. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Gerdes says he will vote to put the Pier on a public ballot if petitions meet threshold though not legally obligated
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:50:29
  8. DaphneSt
    #stpete petitions will not obligate city to bring Pier issue to popular vote by law.
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:44:37
  9. It appears that voteonthepier.org may obtain 16,000 petition signatures they are working to collect to have an opportunity for a public vote on the Pier. Based on a question by Councilmember Nurse, he was informed that legally, regardless of the number of signatures obtained, the city is not obligated to bring the issue to a public vote. Note: Most councilmembers agreed that if this number of signatures is obtained, they would make arrangements for a public vote regardless of legal requirements to do so.
  10. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Nurse- “Pier will either be torn down or it will fall down. Not even safe for garbage trucks. It’s coming down.”
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:43:20
  11. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Danner “The Pier has never been about history; it has always been about the future” Ref: Million Dollar Pier current
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:35:32
  12. DaphneSt
    #stpete Councilmember Kennedy not convinced design team is committed to project due to a contract clause that’s causing concern for $800,000
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:24:32
  13. Councilmember Kennedy expressed concerns that were also echoed in a lighter fashion by Councilmember Kornell about a particular clause allowing the architect/builder to pull out of the contract. After greater explanation, concerns were alleviated and confidence in the commitment of the architect/builder were restored.
  14. DaphneSt
    W. Newton Lens not the best idea & motion Nov vote: “I will not vote on something unless the people can vote.” Motion w/o 2nd dies. #stpete
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:17:45
  15. Councilmember Newton motioned to open the decision to allow for a public vote on the Pier and place this on the November ballot. No one on the council seconded the motion. The motion died.
  16. DaphneSt
    Lens Public presentation to be held in weeks at Coliseum St. Pete from developers. Details of event still under dev Tweeting from #stpete
    Thu, May 17 2012 18:06:13
  17. This presentation is coming too late to help gain the public trust and garner support for the ‘Lens.’ Recommend a streaming video of this presentation along with TV coverage to help reduce barriers to the information and allow for on-line questions submissions prior to the event.
  18. DaphneSt
    Seems like #stpete really should put The Pier issue up for public vote. That’s been said before, I know. Tweeting from City Council meeting
    Thu, May 17 2012 17:52:27

For the love of St. Petersburg

I spent a few hours at the Manhattan Casino Saturday morning with a few creative minds and community leaders, and if you ask me, they are one in the same. Here we had an opportunity to come together and explore what loving St. Petersburg is all about with For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama.

Mayor Bill Foster said of the event that he has big hopes for this concept. He wants people to become more engaged in the City of St. Petersburg, and he wants “love missionaries.” Foster said, “It’s about the little things—the things that make St. Petersburg not just a destination and home. Not just a place where people work and live but a place where people work to feed their habit—the habit of St. Petersburg.”

But what does it take for a community to fall in love with its city? Kageyama talked about “love notes.” Love notes are little things that make your community unique, light you up, make you smile and have you coming back for more. He mentioned Studio 620 and Free Fall Theatre as notable “acts of love” in St. Petersburg.

Other aspects that create a lovable city are bicycle-friendly and dog-friendly cities, and St. Petersburg is both of these, mostly. Kageyama also asked Saturday’s participants to write down and come up to the mic and share what they love about the city.

Mostly, there was a common theme of parks and the waterfront. The arts, museums, the people, small businesses and the history of St. Petersburg also made the list. From here, the interactivity of the participants picked-up, including working in teams to come up with themed t-shirt designs.

From cradle to retiring—what matters in St. Pete?

What do certain demographics think of St. Petersburg—a 15-year-old, a retired person, a married couple with children, a young professional, a college student and a business owner? The teams that worked on t-shirt designs were asked to work together again to explore what was valuable to specific demographics.

There were some common themes such as crime and safety being top concerns spanning all demographics. This does not imply that people consider St. Petersburg to be very dangerous, but crime and safety remain top concerns for all demographics.

Top things that certain demographics within the city like are the beaches and entertainment and ease of access to community, business and government leadership. Also, things that many demographics agree are needs for the city include higher-paying career opportunities in fields such as technology and green energy.

Specific demographics did identify specific needs for their station in life such as more daytime activities for retired persons and more arts education available for youth, especially as programs are being cut within Pinellas County Schools.

 It’s $500 of love

If you had $500 to create a “love” project for St. Petersburg—what would it be? Participants worked in teams to develop projects that would have a $500 budget. Some great ideas were developed such a Family Friendly First Friday in North Straub Park—an idea that can be incorporated into an existing city event and expanded upon for $500.

Once these ideas were developed and presented to all, everyone voted on which idea they liked the most. Family Friendly First Friday not only won the vote but also received an anonymous donor who has agreed to provide the $500 to make it happen. Here are some of the other ideas:

“I am a native of St. Petersburg, and ‘for the love of St. Petersburg means a lot to me,” said Clarence Scott in closing remarks of this summit. He encouraged all of us to not only spread the word about the great work done today and all the great ideas developed but also to spread the word about the great city St. Petersburg is saying, “ Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.”

Peter Kageyama ended the day with a book signing opportunity, having books, t-shirts and lively discussion all available for those interested in For the Love of Cities.

Peter Kageyama

Also posted HERE on SaintPetersBlog, published 2/20/2012

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