Top 5 Things Your Disabilities Services Grant Should Include
August 28, 2020

Top 5 Things Your Disabilities Services Grant Should Include

What We Look for: Chronic Health & Disability Services Grants

Introducing The Rees-Jones Foundation’s latest blog series, What We Look for. The new blog series will dig into what we look for when reviewing grant applications as well as offer helpful tips. Every month or so we’ll publish a new post from a different issue area that will include exclusive insight from our program officers.

This month we are focusing on grants related to Chronic Health & Disability Services. Keep in mind that these posts are generalities, and are not representative of all grants that fall into this funding category. Think of these as guidelines rather than requirements, but important to consider and weave into your application where applicable.

About Chronic Health & Disability Services

The Foundation works to support families with children or youth adversely affected by a disability by supporting access to adaptive youth experiences, animal-assisted therapy, traditional and non-traditional therapeutic services, and independent living programming.

Although not required, the Foundation is interested in programs that serve the most vulnerable populations, address the whole family, and include Christian content or discipleship opportunities. Programs that are unique and evidence-based are a major plus.

The Foundation’s grant making in youth disability is primarily in:

  • Early Childhood Intervention services
  • Special education
  • Animal-assisted therapies
  • Adaptive youth experiences


#1 Tell us about your clients

When applying for a grant that provides services to individuals with disabilities, the most important detail to include is who you are serving. The Foundation aims to serve the most vulnerable populations, including individuals with severe disabilities or conditions, individuals from families with lesser means, and individuals with mental health challenges.

When describing who you serve, it’s important to provide the following details:

  • Socio-economic background
  • The neighborhoods you serve and what services are available in those areas, i.e. are you providing services in the neighborhoods where your clients are located, and are you providing services in an area where those specific services are lacking?
  • Severity of diagnosis and how the severity impacts your clients’ quality of life
  • Types of client diagnosis, i.e. Autism, traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, developmental and cognitive delays, auditory/visual/verbal impairments, etc.
  • Age range

#2 Tell us about your capacity

We like to get an idea of the capacity your organization has to serve those in need, and your ability to sustain operations or grow to serve more. We’d love to hear about any plans you might have to reach a new area or population, or partnerships with other organizations or companies to better serve your clients.

When describing your capacity, it’s important to include the following details:

  • How many clients do you currently serve? Do you have a wait list?
  • Do you accept referrals? Where do the referrals come from? Do you refer clients/potential clients to other organizations? Which organizations?
  • What is your year-to-year retention rate? What is your attendance rate across the semester?
  • Do you receive government reimbursement, subsidy or funding? Are your services reimbursable through Medicaid, insurance, or other agencies?
  • Do you partner with other organizations, companies or entities to provide programming or services? What do those partnerships look like?

#3 Tell us about your programs

It’s important that the Foundation understand your programming and why you use that specific model. This is your chance to showcase what makes your organization and program unique and special.

When describing your programs, it’s important to include the following details:

  • What kind of program is this, i.e. adaptive youth experience, animal-assisted therapy, traditional (PT/OT/speech) or non-traditional therapeutic services (therapeutic riding, Hippotherapy, aquatic therapy, etc.), or independent living programming? Do you use a combination of therapies, experiences or programs?
    • Please note that we have a separate application specifically for camps. If you’re applying for camp funding or camp scholarships (“camperships”), please use the camping application instead of the general application.
  • How was this program or curriculum developed? Who developed it and why have you adopted it?
  • How does your clientele benefit from this programming/curriculum? How does this programming/curriculum improve the quality of life of your clientele?
  • What is the instructor-student interaction like? What do lessons or therapy sessions look like, or what is being addressed during these lessons/sessions?
  • What is the program schedule and structure?
  • If you’re a school, what does the school year look like? Do you offer extracurricular or enrichment programs?
  • Do you utilize Individualized Education Programs and/or transition plans for your clients?
  • Is your programming evidence-based?
  • Do you address the whole family with your programming?
  • Do you offer comprehensive mental health counseling? Do you have a licensed counselor or social worker on staff? Do you offer wrap-around services?
  • If you offer therapeutic services, do you have a licensed PT, OT or speech therapist on staff?
  • Does your programming include building a sense of community or offer clients the ability to interact with each other? If yes, how do you facilitate that?
  • If you use animals in your program, how are they used? How often are they used?

#4 Tell us about your assessments

The Foundation is big on data and evidence-based programming. We want to make sure that the clients you serve are not only benefiting from the programs but thriving. It’s important for us to understand how you measure progress and success, and why you use specific tools to measure that progress.

When describing your assessments, it’s important to provide the following details:

  • How is progress and/or success measured?
  • What specific assessments are used? If you do not use a standardized assessment (CANS, Q-LES-Q-SF, Q-LES-Q-18, CIS-Y, CIS-P, etc.), how are you assessing your clients? If you created your own assessment, please describe it, what it is measuring, and why you use your own assessment.
  • Are you assessing changes in quality of life? If so, how?
  • Are you assessing interpersonal or life skills development? If so, how?
  • What is the frequency and/or schedule of administering assessments?
  • Who administers the assessments, i.e. physical or occupational therapist, licensed professional, certified staff member, etc.?
  • Who are the assessments given to, i.e. parents complete surveys on behalf of children, children complete their own survey, instructor completes survey based on client performance, etc.?
  • What progress or success have you seen thus far by your clients? Explain why those results are deemed progress or success.

#5 Tell us about your staff and organization

It’s important to the Foundation that the organizations we support retain the appropriate certifications and accreditations when applicable. We also value organizations that provide staff training and continuing education, and have written policies outlining appropriate behavior between staff and clients.

When describing your staff and organization, it’s important to include the following details:

  • Is your program accredited or certified through a governing body? What is it and what does certification mean?
  • Are your staff members accredited or certified? What are the accreditations?
  • What training does your staff receive?
  • Do you have written policies and protocols as it relates to working with children and/or individuals with disabilities?
  • What is your instructor-to-client ratio?
  • Do you utilize volunteers? If so, what kind of training do they receive prior to working with clients? Do they undergo background checks?
  • If you use animals in your programming, do you have written policies and procedures that outline how animals are used, to what frequency, and emergency protocols? Do you require clients and volunteers to complete a waiver before interacting with the animals?

Hopefully this information is helpful as you begin to consider submitting a grant request to the Foundation. Please keep the Foundation’s eligibility requirements in mind. Organizations applying for funding must have a 501(c)3 nonprofit designation from the IRS. The Foundation’s focus is on organizations that serve the North Texas community. Organizations that operate internationally are asked to apply by invitation only. The Foundation only considers grants that fall into our areas of interest, which can be found here:

For more information about the grant making process, the online portal, or to preview the different types of applications and their questions, please visit our online Grantee Portal Help Guide, which is updated regularly.

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Category: Grant Writing Tips
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