If you’ve spent any time researching the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine (RUS-DLT) grant, you may have noticed that “match” is not required; rather, the program gives points for leverage. Many organizations breathe a sigh of relief – leverage is a much easier pill to swallow! But don’t get excited just yet . . . the RUS-DLT definition of leverage is quite different from most federal programs.

No one knows the ins and outs of match and leverage when it comes to grants better than Cheryl Henshaw, Director, Polycom Grant Assistance Program (PGAP). In the latest video on-demand from the PGAP, Cheryl provides an introduction to grant match. She explains what is leverage and where to find it, specifically as it relates to the RUS-DLT grant. The video is a must-watch for any organization that wants to apply for the RUS-DLT grant.

As a preview to the video, Cheryl was kind enough to share some thoughts on grant match with The WorkSpace Today:

Match – it’s one of the most common barriers to discretionary funding! Grants are often based on need – and that need is quite often defined by poverty. Here’s the problem: Having high poverty makes you qualified (and in many cases, the higher the poverty level, the more competitive you are), but then you are expected to come up with non-federal matching funds. It creates a “can’t get blood out of a turnip” situation that often prevents the organizations who most need the funding from being able to obtain that funding.

To complicate matters, the definition of match varies from grant to grant. In some grants, match and leverage are synonymous; in other grants, they are completely different. Developing a complete understanding of the matching requirements for each grant is crucial to success.

With the RUS-DLT grant specifically, you can apply for funding with as little as 15% match. That said, you receive zero “leverage” points for that 15% match, and up to 35 points are available in this category. Quite often, just a few points separate a winning and losing application. Rather than assuming you need to apply with a specific percentage of match or leverage, it’s important to understand your other demographic scores. How is your rurality? What is your poverty score? Are you eligible to receive special consideration points? The answers to those questions will help determine the percentage of match you need (and the corresponding points) to be competitive. And that answer may vary from year to year as this grant becomes more competitive and as the scoring criteria changes.

Successful grant seekers often explore different ways to come up with the match needed to be competitive. There are a variety of options: partnerships, long range planning that aligns future expenditures with your proposed project, foundation funding, “challenge” grants, state funding, etc. Learning from the successes of others is a great way to devise a plan for your own organization.

Register now to watch the video on-demand and get access to additional videos from the PGAP experts, as well as other grant resources.