Disparate funding streams are inherently confusing – for those inside and outside the agency. Consolidation of funding strategies into a coherent whole helps rationalize both funding and strategy.
Combining funding streams and other resources into one fund upon which the community may draw is important in changing how grants from the states are perceived by local agencies, and to diminish the categorical nature of existing public safety grant programs. Using the community-based planning process to implement change at the local level necessitates leveraging and coordinating resources rather than planning to funding streams or priorities set by the funders or officials not part of the jurisdiction.
Why is This Important?
This integration is important for a number of reasons. The categorical nature of current funding streams precludes the need for planning by pre-selecting the applicant’s priorities, based on the programs and initiatives the grant program supports. The planning exercise is less meaningful when the priorities are already determined. Existing funding programs also foster categorical approaches to agency staffing and may impede communication between agencies. Making funding streams more fungible – those that originate at both the state and local level – is a critical element of making the planning process one of value and mitigating barriers to inter-agency communication, at all levels of government.
Primarily, the integration of funding streams suggests a new role for SAAs. These agencies must change their strategies to look at identified problems and solutions and then determine how to support these solutions with the available resources. They should provide or ensure access to continuing training, information, and capacity building for the community-based planning process; create opportunities for communities and local officials from different jurisdictions to come together and share experiences; and make resources more accessible to communities and funding streams more fungible.
Things to Consider in Combining Funding Streams
When choosing to combine multiple funding streams for a particular planning effort, consider the following challenges and ideas:
Incentives: For government officials, it is important to consider creating incentives to promote community and local collaboration and the planning process. These incentives may be most effective if they are tied to funding streams, at least in the beginning. However, to make collaboration a condition of funding there are other essential pieces that must be in place, such as leadership from key officials and technical assistance and training at the outset to ensure localities and communities are ready to begin working together successfully. Often this is easiest to do with a new program rather than changing an existing program.
Turf: A significant potential barrier to implementing community-based planning initiatives is territorial integrity, or the need to protect the responsibility or the funding stream that traditionally has been under the auspices of a single agency or individual. Shifting to a manner of planning where the responsibilities and corresponding funding streams are more fungible and less categorical requires that individuals work together and share power and responsibility. This issue should be one that those who are leading the community-based planning effort accept as a barrier to implementation. Finding ways where agencies and players agree to need each other and work together in the short term to make constructive changes for the long term is an important element in overcoming these territorial issues.