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The Climb

Substance Use and Mental Health Grant Writing Services

Sep 19, 2018 3:08:33 PM / by Ascension Recovery Services

When a government agency or private foundation fund your treatment and recovery programs, it is called a grant. Grants support critical treatment and recovery initiatives, innovative research and more. 

Ascension Recovery Services (ARS) has written many state, federal and private foundation grants that have received funding. In the past year, we have been awarded millions of dollars in grant funds. Currently, we are applying for tens of millions of dollars through our work with large healthcare systems, community hospitals and smaller organizations providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

Keep reading to learn about the grant lifecycle, getting started, eligibility and more.

The Grant Lifecycle

The grant process follows a direct lifecycle that includes creating the funding opportunity, applying, making award decisions and successfully executing the award.

There are three main phases:

  1. Pre-Award Phase
  2. Award Phase
  3. Post Award



Grant Writing

In short, the Pre-Award Phase depicts the beginning of the grant lifecycle, which includes announcement of funding opportunities, submitting applications and reviewing applications.

Finishing a grant application can take weeks. Application packages require everything from basic organizational information to explanations of the proposed project, statements of need, financial data and methods to measure outcomes.



The Award Phase begins once the funder completes the application review process. Government officials or foundation staff review and make award recommendations based on the overall score of the applications, which are reviewed by a series of levels in the agencies to guarantee high-quality, fair and impartial decisions.

For SAMHSA grants, the Division of Grant Review (DGR) will weed out applications that do not meet the administrative or programmatic requirements of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)--meaning they will not go forward to review. You will be notified within 30 to 60 days if your application has been screened out. An example of a thorough grant review process (SAMHSA’s) is outlined below.

The DGR keeps the following principles to make sure that each application receives a thorough and fair review:

  • The DGR holds peer reviewers to strict conflict-of-interest (COI) standards.
  • The DGR maintains confidentiality for both applicants and peer reviewers.
  • The DGR chooses peer reviewers for their knowledge, skills and expertise related to the particular grant program under review. The DGR also tries to develop peer review groups based on geographic, gender and ethnic diversity.
  • Peer reviewers evaluate and score each application according to the FOA and its criteria for evaluation.
  • Peer reviewers consider each application on its own merit and do not compare it with other applications.
  • Peer reviewers consider only what is actually written in the application. They do not make assumptions or use any personal knowledge of the applicant.

The DGR questions all potential peer reviewers about an actual or perceived COI before assigning them to a review committee. A COI can include:

  • Present or past employment (or any other fiduciary relationship) with the applicant or subcontractor (includes the reviewer's relatives)
  • Any other relationship with the applicant, subcontractor or key staff/consultants that could be perceived as COI (for example, student, teacher, friend, rival, past or present co-worker)
  • Being employed by or contractually associated with an organization that has submitted an application for the grant program being reviewed


The Post Award Phase is a lot of work over the time span of the award dates, which includes carrying out the grant, reporting progress and submitting the closeout requirements.

Reporting progress is necessary to maintain transparency and to prevent fraud and abuse.

The specific reporting requirements, schedules and systems can differ for each grant. Many grants will require a funded organization or program to report on numbers of people served, demographic information, outcomes and specific financial reporting requirements, such as how funds were spent.

Grant recipients are also audited. The Government Accountability Office, Office of Inspector General and various departments within each institution track and analyze the performance of grant recipients.

The closeout is where the grant process ends. To complete a closeout, the award recipient must submit the final financial and programmatic reports within 90 days after the grant award expires or is terminated. The awarding agency will review these reports to assure compliance with all the grant terms and conditions as well as to ensure that all funds were used appropriately. 

As an award recipient, you may need to alter your grant funded project, or other aspects of your approved application, during the year to accomplish certain program objectives. This is defined as a post-award change. Some of these post-award changes may require prior approval and amendment of your Notice of Award (NoA).



The grant process involves a lot of steps that are completed by different groups.

Below is a checklist of the main steps in this process:

  • Familiarize yourself with the overall grants lifecycle
  • Determine your eligibility for funding opportunities
  • Identify the right types of funding opportunities for you
  • Learn about the reporting requirements you will need to abide by if awarded funding
  • Search for the particular grant you will apply for
  • Confirm that you are qualified to apply for the grant
  • Register with Grants.gov
  • Apply for the grant


Ascension will assist you in researching applicable grants, whether state, federal or a private foundation, that can support your treatment center. We can also assist you with grant writing and execution of the grants, if received.

Ascension has assisted our partners in the search of grants, application process, narrative writing, budget creation and writing of the budget justification for various private foundation, state and federal grants totaling millions of dollars for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and participates in the execution of the grant, project management, final analysis and dissemination of final outcomes.

Ascension focuses on writing SUD and mental health grants that will expand treatment and recovery resources. We will help organizations that are looking to expand their current program or organizations that are starting up.

Douglas M. Leech | Founder and President

“With our grant writing services, we can collaborate with an organization when writing the grant while guiding them along to write in the most effective and relevant way to ensure the best odds of grant approval,” said Doug Leech, ARS president.

Ascension can also help organizations with implementation after they are awarded the grant.

“There are grant writers out there who simply write grants in order to get paid. I believe by hiring us, you have better odds of grant success. We do not apply for grants we do not think we could potentially get. We take the time to decide what is best for your organization,” Leech said.

Have you hit a roadblock during the development of your residential treatment center, intensive outpatient program or sober living home? Does grant writing overwhelm you? We can help.

Call us today to get started: 304-503-3448

Topics: program development

Ascension Recovery Services

Written by Ascension Recovery Services

Ascension Recovery Services is a team of experts and specialists with years of experience working with individuals and organizations aiming to open behavioral health organizations.

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