President's Message

Giving Our Clients an Edge in the Funding Race

Grant writing is both an art and a science, and Metis is lucky to have a wordsmith and technician as skilled as Marilyn Zlotnik at the helm of our grant development work. Marilyn has led efforts to attain more than $275 million in federal, state, and local grants for our clients, who in turn have developed innovative programs to improve educational outcomes and the quality of life in communities nationwide.

When Marilyn, our vice president for communications and development, joined us in 1994, we'd been helping our clients attain funding for about 12 years—a service that grew out of our evaluation work. I still remember when a struggling district on the Lower East Side (Community School District 1) came to us in the 1980s to develop a magnet schools program to revitalize the district and reverse the out-migration of students. The program—called Project Phoenix—was funded, and the district was able to develop schools of choice, which served as a catalyst for revitalizing the community.

Since then, Metis has written hundreds of education grants for urban, rural, and suburban settings, including those that are undertaking system-wide reform, developing schools of choice from the ground up, or retooling educational programming to reflect new research or evidence-based practices. As it has become increasingly clear that early childhood education is critical to ensuring that children do not fall behind before they even start school, Metis is pleased to have worked with school districts and community groups to attain funding for programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. At the other end of the education spectrum, we've helped institutions of higher learning, such as the City University of New York, to raise funds for vital workforce-development projects, which help workers adapt their skills to a changing economy.

For Metis, grant writing, information management, and evaluation are fundamentally intertwined.

It is not unusual for a client to come to us for help with grant writing, but then see that a better data-collection system would yield the information it needs to demonstrate the link between its programming and resulting outcomes. New data systems can lead to stronger evaluations—and sometimes more funding. Case in point: Metis has worked since 2005 to help the Arkansas Department of Education obtain three multimillion dollar grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences, to build a statewide longitudinal data system that tracks the progress of every student in the state from kindergarten into the workforce. With each successive grant that the ADE has received, Metis has helped to implement, expand, and support the data system as well as analyze the system's use and impact—leading to additional funding.

I welcome any groups to stop in and talk to Marilyn about their grant-writing needs. As she makes clear in our “In Focus” article on our website, it's not just her estimable skill, but also her passion for improving the lives of children and families that are the key to her grant writing success. That, in turn, has helped many of our clients make a meaningful difference in the lives of those they serve.

- Stanley Schneider, President