Nostalgia and Grants: How Tetris 99 Mirrors a Full Grant Calendar

I was having a moment of nostalgia this week…


I grew up in the 90’s, which means that I grew up playing games like Tetris and Mario Brothers (we won’t talk about what my bangs looked like back then!).


My daughter’s who are both teenagers have both recently gotten into a Mario Kart and Tetris 99 streak as a stress reliever during final exam season and I have found myself getting in on the fun, although I have lost all of my skills from the 90’s in both games.


Since I knew that I was bound to lose (again) in the Tetris 99 game I was playing the other day, I handed the control over to my daughter, and sat back to try and learn from her skills with the Switch controller and the controller is my biggest downfall compared to the old school Nintendo controller.


And while sitting back, what did I start to think about? That’s right, grants. As I was watching the attacks that happen in Tetris 99, automatically adding additional rows to clear when your board is ALREADY very full, reminded me a lot of what it feels like when an unexpected grant opportunity pops up when your organization already has a very full grant calendar. Whether you are or have ever been a Tetris player, I imagine that this grant calendar experience is true for you.


In Tetris, when you’re struggling to continuously clear rows (i.e. – submit grant applications in advance of the deadline), you are always looking for the perfect fit for each piece to maximize your board. In our daily life as grant professionals we are looking for where and how to maximize our schedules and team’s contributions to maximize our capacity to submit as many grants as possible.


At some point, in the video game, you are likely to run out space and the final piece reaches the top of the board, ending your grame. You may sigh in frustration and throw your hands and controller up in the air, but you can go back to a nice clean game board by hitting the restart button.


In grants, when your grant calendar is as full as possible, and reaches the equivalent of the top of your game board, what happens? 


For some of us, we help our organization say no to new opportunities.


For some of us, we seek external support with contract support to help address the new opportunities.


Unfortunately, for some of us we work overtime or work while on vacation to address the new opportunities.


I haven’t heard of a restart button yet, but I’d love to hear how you handle the situation where your grant calendar has reached the maximum level. What unique solutions have you tried? Comment below!

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