When I write grants, they are organized around a Logic Model that helps clarify the components of the project. If I can work with the grantee to articulate the logic in a compelling, succinct way I know that the grant stands a good chance of being funded.

The Logic Model begins with a program goal – the overall aim or intended impact of the project. Next, two components that describe HOW the goal will be achieved are outlined: Resources (the inputs dedicated to or consumed by the program) and Activities (the actions that the program takes to achieve the desired outcomes). Finally, two components that describe the WHY or “so what” of the project are clarified: Outputs (the measurable projects of a program’s activities) and then the Outcomes (the benefits to clients, communities, systems or organizations). Resources are needed for Activities which lead to Outputs which cause Outcomes. It sounds very simple, but many hours have been spent wrestling with how to communicate these categories.

The Alia Innovation Cohort members also have struggled to put their overall change aspirations into succinct language. They have been striving to articulate their Theory of Change that describes the aspect of the child welfare reform that their jurisdiction is addressing through completion of this sentence:  “Because we believe that children fare better with protective connections in family, and ____ (#) children in ____ (county) are not living safely within their families, we are ___________(thing they are changing), so that __________ (change they expect to see). We believe this will work because _______ (evidence).” It, too, sounds easy to complete, but it the simplicity belies the difficulty of it.

Mark Twain said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.” His logic rings true for grant writing, theories of change and most forms of communication. It takes time to edit out all the wiggle words, meaningless phrases and fluff, but the power comes from that clarification.

Logic Model Source: The Office of Minority Health Resource Center, http://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov

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