Download the slides from the webinar here.

What makes a GOCO grant successful? It’s a competitive grant process serving the entire state of Colorado which sees a high level of demand.  So to help all of our potential grantees have the best chance at success, we hosted our first ever grant writing webinar. For those who couldn’t attend, here are the highlights. You also can watch the entire webinar on-demand by clicking on the video above. You also can download the slides.

First, let’s talk about what’s new. Starting with the Spring 2015 local government grant cycle, 75% of your match must be secured at the time of application to the local government grant program. Also new is a shortened project description. It’s now limited to 100 words, which allows for a brief synopsis of your project. Don’t overthink it – there is no score for this portion and the selection criteria questions give you the opportunity to really go into detail (more on that later).

The budget form requires a high level of detail, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed we highly recommend watching that segment of the webinar (tune in at the 9:04 mark on the video above). The most common mistakes we see involve in-kind donations and splitting:

  • Remember, in-kind donations are still a part of total project costs. They should not be negative numbers on the budget sheet.
  • Make sure that overall project costs are split 70/30 between GOCO and your organization. You do not have to split the cost of every single line item.

Carefully consider who you designate as your primary contact – remember, all communication runs through this person. This contact should be the person most familiar with the project. If you are partnering with a local government, your organization can still serve as the primary contact – just please don’t designate more than one person!

Another person to think carefully about? Who will actually sign the grant agreement. We recommend not designating a person at all, just a position within your organization. For example, designate the Town Manager, not Jane Smith the Town Manager. If that person were to leave their job before the grant was signed, you will have a lot more paperwork to go through. And let’s be honest, who wants that? 

A common theme throughout the webinar was to be thorough and double check everything. This can apply to a lot of things, but especially the attachment checklist. It’s there to help you, so don’t ignore it. Make sure all of your attachments are in the same order listed on the checklist. One other thing:  skip the cover pages and include all of your awesome photos in the attachments.

The selection criteria questions tend to strike fear into applicants’ hearts, but we promise they are not there to trick you. Here’s how to rock them:

  • Answer all the questions. Skipping a question is a big no-no, as is not backing up what you’re saying with actual data or evidence.
    • Acknowledging you had opposition to a project is not a dealbreaker – just demonstrate that you had a comprehensive public process and did attempt to find common ground.
  • Tell a story. Describe what makes your town (or district or school??)  unique and why this project is important. This is the time to toot your own horn!
  • Be thorough. Always describe why something is important. For example, don’t only include  a description of the public process. Tell us what you learned, too!

The selection criteria portion of the webinar begins at 32:09 on the video. We address lots of common concerns as well as some specific examples of what not to do, so make sure to tune in!

Another common oversight is not getting creative with letters of support. Use this section to really show off your community! Skip the form letters and submit up to seven meaningful letters from the actual users of your project – think kids, parents, and anyone with a vested interest in making this project happen. Those are the most powerful stories!

Let us leave you with a few final tips…

  • If you need to get an environmental checklist done (find out if you need one at the 28:40 mark), book your appointment at Colorado Parks and Wildlife early! It’s free, so that means appointments fill up quickly. Contact your local CPW manager here:
  • Public access must be reasonable. This doesn’t mean you can’t have gates/fences. It does mean that the project should be open to the general public and can’t be in a gated community.

Above all:

  • Talk to us first. Call Jake Houston or Madison Brannigan (contact information below) before you apply. They make sure you are eligible, are applying to the correct program, and have a project that will be competitive.
  • Submit a draft application. Jake and/or Madison will review your application and give you tips for improvement before you submit the final version.
  • REAPPLY. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. The local government grant program is extremely competitive and persistence pays off.

Questions? Let us know!

Jake Houston, Local Government Program Manager


Madison Brannigan, Local Government Program Coordinator