A Small Grant With Big Results

**Note from Diane: I would like to welcome Zoe Garvin, one of our new subcontractors, to our blog as an author. You will begin to see pieces from Zoe each quarter about her work and experiences. To let everyone get a chance to know Zoe, we are continuing with our series of “Grant Funding in Action” where each member of the DH Leonard Consulting team has shared a story about a grant opportunity that they were able to see in action.


From 2010-2012, I worked as the Development Director of a community-based organization in
San Francisco that provides residential behavioral health treatment for American Indians through
a holistic, culturally specific approach. Each year, the development department was responsible
for conducting an agency-wide evaluation on client demographics, needs, outcomes, and service
usage. It was designed to be more comprehensive than a typical grant report by identifying
trends across all agency programs.

The first year my team and I put together the report we discovered there was no centralized
database to gather the information we needed. The majority of clinical staff had worked at the
organization for decades and had tremendous clinical expertise but was reluctant to using
technology in their daily practice. Basic client information and outcomes for certain grant-
funded services was available electronically in various government reporting systems but beyond
that only paper records existed. We compiled the data for the report manually that year and
began working to streamline things in the following year.

In 2011, we found out about a capacity building funding opportunity from the National Library
of Medicine (NLM) to support HIV/AIDS related training and education among behavioral
health service providers. One of the grant requirements was to promote the use of the NLM
electronic library as a resource for client information and referrals. We knew that the behavioral
health issues and socioeconomic status of our clients were major risk factors for HIV/AIDS, and
that the number of HIV+ clients in the program was steadily increasing. So we decided to pursue
this grant as part of a capacity building project for increasing computer literacy among staff
while also responding to the emerging need for increased HIV/AIDS education.

We received $10,000 from the NLM and embarked on our capacity building project. We
developed a culturally relevant HIV/AIDS training curriculum and used a portion of the funds
for on-site computer training for staff, where they used the NLM library to practice retrieving
information to incorporate into client treatment plans.

The impact of this small, one-time grant was huge and paved the way for subsequent capacity
building through technology. In just six months, all agency staff had participated in culturally
tailored prevention trainings on HIV/AIDS risk factors, transmission routes, and debunking
myths and stigmas. The computer trainings increased their technical competencies and exposed
them to reliable sources for HIV/AIDS information. They became more knowledgeable about
HIV/AIDS while also improving their computer skills, which increased program capacity by
streamlining clinical processes.

Over 90% of our staff participants demonstrated an increase in knowledge and computer literacy
skills, which in turn allowed them to provide better resources and referrals for their clients. Data
from the following year annual program evaluation revealed an increase in HIV/AIDS linkages
in post-treatment after care plans and clients expressed greater comfort discussing issues related
to HIV/AIDS in treatment groups. We secured funding to purchase an electronic health record
system that could be integrated with the contract reporting systems of our primary funders.

In my final year as Development Director, the evaluation report came together seamlessly and
we had data on client domains that had never been tracked before. The organization’s unique
combination of western and traditional healing practices had long been recognized as one of the
only Native specific treatment approaches in the United States, but with a dynamic
recordkeeping system that staff felt comfortable using, we now had invaluable data to
demonstrate the measurable impact of our holistic approach.


We’d love to hear your stories about grants see have written and had the chance to see in action! Share your stories with us via email, in the comments on the website or via social media. 

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