Good luck! It sounds like an exciting opportunity for the Mechanical Gardens.
I like your instinct to collaborate on your application. I can help, but I hope you can also get local collaborators who are familiar with DCAS, understand local issues, or who bring a variety of relevant perspectives to the process. If you can’t get any local help with something as important as this, how are you going to get local help actually providing any useful services?
Sometimes, funding agencies are surprisingly willing to work with applicants. If appropriate, I suggest you make some phone calls to make sure people at DCAS are familiar with you and your organization and all the ways that you are an ideal match for what they need. Feel them out about whether they will meet with you and your team over lunch to get acquainted, or allow you to come in to give a presentation about your organization. Be sure to talk about all of your measurable community benefits to date, such as the number of bicycles repaired per year over the last few years, or the number of people you have engaged in various ways.
At the same time, you should gather as much information as possible about what they want. After reading their Request, what important, insightful questions do you have, that will also demonstrate that you are the right organization to partner with them? See if you can get a better idea of what they are looking for. Ask them what parts of your presentation are of particular interest to them. Are prior successful applications available? What is their evaluation process? Are details of their scoring system available? Who are the key decision makers?
Think about what concerns DCAS might have with your organization, the Mechanical Gardens. Do you have the organization, the expertise, enough motivated employees or volunteers, to do what they need you to do? If you can anticipate and respond effectively to their concerns, you will be on the bike lane to success!
Finally, keep exploring all opportunities until you reach an agreement with someone. Listen carefully to what DCAS says. Sometimes the agency already knows who they are going to partner with, and their Request is just a sham to satisfy a requirement.
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From: Josh Bisker firstname.lastname@example.org One of NYC's larger city agencies, DCAS, has opened up a request for expressions of interest https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dcas/downloads/pdf/business/rfp-rfb-rfei/rfei-021.pdf for facilities-based bike programming, due Dec 9, which includes categories for things that line up exactly with what the Mechanical Gardens has done and aspires to do. The things they're looking for – including bike supply recovery and remanufacturing, small-scale and mobile repair, bike rental and more – feel like EXACTLY the right fit for what we've been seeking from the city for years. It's a really exciting opportunity.
The application, however, is a large lift. I am wondering a couple of things:
- Is anyone here interested in working with me on it? My hometown
team is pretty low on capacity at the moment, and the skills for creating a professional-ass government-facing application are not abundant in my group. Maybe you have some capacity to share, or some experience doing this kind of thing. Or perhaps you're a person who is less involved in your coop than you used to be, and you're looking to pitch in somewhere else. I could really use a team on this, and maybe you want to come on board.
- Has anyone here filled out a big proposal for something similar
before, and would you be willing to share your application materials? In part I'm looking for language, images, and specifics that we can model some of our answers on. In part, I'm just eager to be able to present examples from other places that are running successful programs.