By: Ivory A. Toldson & Amanda Washington
Over more than 150 years, HBCUs have provided students with the tools to meet the challenges of a changing world. These institutions are hubs of opportunity that lift up Americans and instill in their students a sense of who they are and what they can become. Their campuses are engines of economic growth and community service and proven ladders of intergenerational advancement. – President Barack Obama, 2014 Proclamation
- Office of Justice Programs (OJP) typically makes more than 3,500 grant awards to criminal and juvenile justice organizations and victim service providers at the national, state, local, and tribal level, totaling more than $2 billion.
- The FY 2016 Federal budget requests $154 million in additional funding for DOJ grant programs (Office of Justice Programs, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and Office on Violence Against Women), for a total grant program request of $2.7 billion.
- In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $40,019,662 to Institutions of Higher Education with $822,596 of the grant funding specifically awarded to HBCUs.
- In 2014, eleven HBCUs applied to receive grant funding through Office of Justice Programs.
- In 2014, less than 10 percent of HBCUs applied for any funding from the DOJ and less than 3 percent received funding.
Recent high profile interactions between the Black community and law enforcement officials underscore the need for criminal justice research, programs and advocacy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) awards over $40 million to institutes of higher education, but HBCUs receive only a small percentage of this revenue. The reasons for HBCUs receiving less money are complex. Many contend that HBCUs are smaller institutions with less university personnel to deliver high quality proposals, while others identify systemic biases that may influence raters’ judgments of HBCU’s proposals.
Despite the challenges, some HBCUs have produced successful proposals to the DOJ. As an assistant professor at Southern University A & M in Baton Rouge, Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, the co-author of this article, received a grant from DOJ to study police misconduct. More recently, Howard University, Lincoln University and Elizabeth City State University received grants to address sexual violence. The purpose of this article is to provide information relevant to HBCUs who are interested in securing federal sponsorship for their research and programs through the DOJ.
This series is designed to expand Federal support of HBCU research, programs, and outreach through competitive grants and contracts. HBCUs receive approximately $287 million per year for research and development from 32 federal agencies. However, this is only a fraction of the more than $25 billion awarded to all institutions of higher education. The White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCUs) believes that increasing revenues to HBCUs from federal grants and contracts is vital to the long term sustainability of our institutions. By developing innovative proposals, working with HBCU liaisons at federal agencies and taking advantage of federal funding opportunities, HBCUs can increase the resources necessary to initiate and sustain vital programs.
The U.S. Department of Justice Overview
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing grants for the implementation of these crime fighting strategies. For FY 2016, President Obama requested $28.7 billion for the DOJ; an increase of approximately $2.5 billion over the previous year. The DOJ’s FY 2016 request includes 118,001 positions including 26,274 Agents, 12,519 Attorneys, 20,921 Correctional Officers, and 4,613 Intelligence Analysts. The FY 2016 budget also requests $154 million in additional funding for DOJ grant programs (Office of Justice Programs, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and Office on Violence Against Women), for a total grant program request of $2.7 billion.
Specifically, FY 2016 request:
- For OJP totals $2.7 billion, including $1.6 billion for discretionary grant programs and $1.1 billion for mandatory grant programs. It includes $427.1 million in discretionary enhancements, including increased funding for an indigent defense initiative, Second Chance Prisoner Reentry, Justice Reinvestment, and juvenile justice programs.
- For Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) totals $303.5 million. The COPS request includes $249.5 million for the COPS Hiring Program, with $5.0 million targeted towards increasing diversity in law enforcement, and $35.0 million for Tribal Law Enforcement.
- For the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) totals $473.5 million. OVW’s budget includes a total of $50 million in enhancements. Protecting students from sexual assault is a top priority for this Administration, and the Budget includes a $14 million increase to the Campus Violence Program to better meet the need on college campuses.
White House Initiative on HBCUs’ Liaison to the U.S. Department of Justice
As the liaison between the White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCUs) and OJP, Kevin Jenkins (email@example.com) works with the WHIHBCUs to organize efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs through increased participation in appropriate Federal programs and initiatives.
Specifically, Mr. Jenkins helps the WHIHBCUs to:
- Establish how the department or agency intends to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements and to encourage HBCUs to participate in Federal programs;
- Identify Federal programs and initiatives in which HBCUs may be either underserved or underused as national resources, and improve HBCUs’ participation therein; and
- Encourage public-sector, private-sector, and community involvement in improving the overall capacity of HBCUs.
Kevin Jenkins serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist at the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. He has been with the Department since March 2008 and has spent his entire professional career in public service working for non-profit organizations, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies, focusing on issues such as mental health, homelessness, transportation, community planning, and advocating for developmentally disabled persons in the criminal justice system.
What opportunities are there for HBCUs to compete for grants/contracts through the agency?
In fiscal year 2011, OJP made more than 3,500 grant awards to criminal and juvenile justice organizations and victim service providers at the national, state, local, and tribal level. These awards include a total of more than $2 billion to support public safety and justice initiatives in every part of the United States[i]. This federal agency offers several grant opportunities for Institutions of Higher Education to implement and strengthen innovative programs. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $40,019,662 to Institutions of Higher Education with $822,596 of the grant funding specifically awarded to HBCUs.
Several bureaus and offices within the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs provide funding and award opportunities to Institutions of Higher Education. In the year 2014, ten HBCUs applied to receive grant funding through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART).
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) provides the most amount of money to higher education and provides significant funding and award opportunities to HBCUs. The NIJ funds physical and social science research, development and evaluation projects about criminal justice through competitive solicitations. The focus of the solicitations varies from year to year based on research priorities and available funding[ii]. In 2014, Texas Southern University, Claflin University, Alabama State University, Bowie State University, Howard University and Clark Atlanta University applied for grants within the NIJ.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) also provides discretionary funding to organizations to implement various programs including strategic enhancement to mentoring, community initiatives to increase child safety, and programs that discourage youth gang membership. In 2014, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Florida Memorial University, Alabama State University, and Dillard University applied for grants within the OJJDP.
The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) provide jurisdictions with guidance regarding the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, and provide technical assistance to the states, territories, Indian tribes, local governments, and to public and private organizations. The SMART Office also tracks important legislative and legal developments related to sex offenders and administers grant programs related to the registration, notification, and management of sex offenders. In 2014, Johnson C. Smith University applied for a grant with SMART.
In recent years, how successful have HBCUs been in obtaining grants/contracts from DOJ?
According to Mr. Jenkins, many HBCUs have expressed that they are unaware of the resources at the U.S. Department of Justice, and only a small percentage of HBCUs have applied for funding. Recently, Howard University, Lincoln University and Elizabeth City State University received grants to address sexual violence, with total awards ranging from $300,000 to $35,000 through the Office on Violence Against Women.
What advice does DOJ give to HBCUs in order to be more competitive in obtaining grants and contracts?
- Get involved. OJP is always seeking qualified individuals to join the pool of subject matter experts they call upon to review the strengths and weaknesses of applications for grant funding. More HBCU scholars should join the pool. If you are interested, start the enrollment process by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Make connections. Contact the program officer in charge of a request for proposals before starting the application. Find out about administration priorities and application imperatives. If you have difficulties identifying the program officer, contact the HBCU liaison or Ivory A. Toldson (email@example.com), the Deputy Director of WHIHBCUs.
- Start early. Institutions should apply for grant funding early while also striving for the proposal to be collaborative, evidence-based, measured, and comprehensive. Build in an initial rejection and revision into the expected time between starting the application and getting funded.
- Collaborate. The U.S. Department of Justice urges Institutions of Higher Education to apply for grants as the primary fiscal agent while also identifying partnerships with local and national agencies, regional organizations and a variety of relevant affiliates.
- Ground your proposal in research. In addition, successful grant proposals provide in-depth scholarly work and consist of concrete action plans.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If your institution is denied grant funding, it is important to follow up with the Office of Justice Programs to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. The agency suggests that denied applicants utilize this feedback to revise grant proposals and reapply in the next application season.
The process of obtaining a grant from the Federal Government can be daunting, but there’s only one way to guarantee that a proposal will not be funded – not to apply. Currently, the DOJ funds HBCUs at a level that is less than the average for all Federal agencies. However, this is partially attributed to the low numbers of HBCUs, which have applied. Nationally, 6 HBCUs have law schools, most have criminal justice programs and all offer classes that are relevant to law and justice. In addition, HBCUs have students and faculty members should take leadership in shaping justice-relevant research, policy and practice. In partnership, government officials and HBCUs can expand support to HBCUs through the DOJ.
Specially, the WHIHBCUs should regularly produce reports such as this, which has information regarding the agency’s HBCU liaison, background facts, funding trends, existing HBCU relationships, and agency emphasis. The WHIHBCUs should also work with Federal partners to provide technical assistance to HBCUs who are interested in applying for funding.
HBCUs should work with the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the WHIHBCUs to identify institutional strengths and establish partnerships with federal agencies. HBCUs should also build their institutional capacity to produce competitive grants. Members of Congress can help HBCUs to network with key personnel at federal agencies. Members can also help HBCUs connect with corporate and philanthropic partners to strength collaborative efforts.
Links/Resources to Opportunities
- The Department of Justice
- The Office of Justice Programs
- Outline of the grant application process
- Types of Funding provided through the OJP
- The OJP Award Selector RESTful API is a web service that provides OJP Grant Awards data. OJP Award Selector data describes the Award, Awardee, Amounts, locations, and other grant award details for grants awarded by the Office of Justice Programs. The OJP Grant Award Selector API page provides developers with end-points in XML, JSON, and CSV formats along with related codebooks, methodology, metadata and usage instructions.