Hard Choices Ahead

By Guest Columnist: Theresa Osenbaugh
Community Outreach Manager
Komen Kansas City

It’s a “nail-biting” time at Komen Kansas City. We are in the middle of the process for choosing our upcoming grant recipients. Last November, we received 19 applications from organizations across our 17-county service area. All are geared at the long-term goal of making a significant impact on breast cancer in our community.

Awarding grants is no easy process. When I first started at Komen, I remember thinking to myself, “This has to be the greatest job in the world. It has to be easier to give out the funding than to be on the grant writing end of the request!” The greatest job in the world, for me, has been true….the latter of my statement is another story! You see, the grantees we work with and even many of the applicants who do not get funded on any given year become part of our family. As a funder, we are heavily involved with the programming in our community, know our grantees by first name and often the sound of their voice over the phone, and celebrate success together regularly. As the amount of dollars requested rises so does the chance that we have to call a long-term partner and tell them we are unable to meet their needs in full this grant cycle.

Here is a rundown on the process of how Komen grants are awarded in Kansas City based on our upcoming grant cycle’s timeline:

  • November 2012: Grant Applications (19 in total) were received to the Komen office
  • November-December 2012: Grant Applications were reviewed for “compliance.” This means that staff and volunteers reviewed the grants to ensure they met a priority from our Community Profile, were focused strictly on breast health, were going to a tax-exempt organization, etc.
  • January 2013: Our review panel received an orientation. The panel is made up a diverse group of people with specific knowledge related to health care, breast care, grant writing or funding, or a similar skill set.
  • January 2013- February 2013: The review panel members are individually reviewing grants and ranking them based on specific criteria outlined in our request for applications. The scores are combined to create a launching point for discussion. Then, the review panel meets in person to decide the order in which the grants will be brought to the Board of Directors for funding approval.
  • February – March 2013: The list of grants is presented to the Board in the order which the review panel would like them to be funded. Then, the Board agrees to fund the grants, in order, until we exhaust the dollars we have available.

    Past Komen local grant recipients

    Past Komen local grant recipients

In the last two years, we have received an average of $1.6 million dollars in grant requests. Although last year was our largest funding year yet in our local community, we were still only able to fund $925,525. That left several worthy organizations without funding for their breast health programs. We are blown away by the quality of breast health programs in our community and would love to partner with each applicant in some way but we need your help! It is incredibly difficult to not be able to fund the full amount of requests. We know our community needs these services.

The dollars that are given back to these worthy organizations come from the community and we work hard to ensure they are put to use for programs that are restricted to breast health and the majority serving low-income women across our service area.

Our grant announcement will be coming at the end of March, but it is then that our work just begins over again. We will remember that $1.6 million dollar average and make it a goal to raise more money than ever so we can continue to grow our impact in partnership throughout Kansas City and the greater service area. There are a lot women counting on us!

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