Inside the Shelter Grant Review Process

09-02-2014 10:19 AM

Mary Kay Ash’s granddaughters Dayna Manning (left) and Gena Tadewald were welcome additions to this year’s committee.

Last week, I spent a day reviewing grant applications for The Mary Kay Foundation shelter grant program. Reading these grant applications really opened my eyes to the problem of domestic violence throughout our country. No one is immune. One shelter director was killed by her boyfriend.

However, I also learned about some really creative programs that shelters offer to help. A shelter in Texas works with a ranch to offer equine therapy, which helps boost confidence in victims. Across the country, shelters give moms and children a chance to participate in art therapy, which can help uncover feelings in a way that talking therapy can’t.

As you can imagine, choosing the grant winners from more than 700 applicants is tough. The recipients won’t be announced until September, just before National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each state will receive at least one $20,000 grant. Higher populated states usually receive more.

Since I’d never been on the grant review committee, I was curious to how the process works. You may be too.

First, The Mary Kay Foundation staff initially reviews every grant application to make sure the organization is a domestic violence shelter. After that, 700 applications were left for the committee to review over a period of about three days.

I was one of 18 people on the grant review committee this year. We ranged from volunteers to staff of Mary Kay Inc. and The Mary Kay Foundation to family members of Mary Kay Ash. I was thrilled to meet two of Mary Kay’s granddaughters!

The applications were already divided by state. I chose one of the northern states, which had about 15 to 20 applications. I spent about five hours comparing each applicant to the grading sheet to see how they stacked up. How many services do they offer? Do they do anything creative? How many people do they serve? What is the existing budget? What’s the greatest need? Is there Mary Kay sales force involvement in these shelters?

Based on the answers to those questions and more, I chose five to make it to the next level, which is an intense scrutiny of financial statements. Out of those, three will be selected to be presented to The Mary Kay Foundation’s Board of Directors. This state will most likely get three grants based on its population.

So like you, I wait with anticipation to see who the final grant recipients will be.