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Presbyterian Mission Agency deploys consolidated grant application

Process will streamline grant compliance, approval and disbursement

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Tony De La Rosa delivers his report to the PMAB, including a description of the comprehensive grant process. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – After months of effort, and a mandate by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, a comprehensive grant system has been implemented for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The new processes have been in place since March 1, and are being further described to members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week.

The policy, approved by the PMAB in September 2015, called for staff to create guidelines, criteria, forms and systems that would streamline the grant issuance process. Each grant program developed a written document describing their procedure for reviewing applications and disbursing funds. A separate team reviewed the documents for compliance using the criteria. The review of 50 PMA Grant Programs, including over 60 specific types of grants, found all programs to be compliant.

“My hope and prayer is that recipients will not see or experience any major or substantive change in the receipt of Presbyterian funds other than a quicker turnaround in the processing of our internal paperwork,” said Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the PMA.

De La Rosa said the development of standardized templates to guide the grant application process will speed up the application process by reducing the time legal services dedicates to reviewing each submission. While certain grants will continue to have unique characteristics—including student aid and debt relief, and grants to partners in sanctioned countries whose grants could be reviewed by the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control—all applications will be guided by these templates.

“We’re not the only grantor that makes requirements of its recipients,” De La Rosa said of guidelines that require adherence to U.S. foreign aid guidelines and employ best practices found in similar grant issuing organizations. “If there is the wherewithal to make a request for funds, we hope there is the wherewithal to provide appropriate mechanisms and reporting so that the people who support the Presbyterian Mission Agency are confident that our money is being appropriately expended abroad or domestically.”

Templates in Spanish, French and Korean are being added to facilitate grant work in those languages. New grant programs or changes to existing grant programs will be reviewed quarterly by the review team and submitted to the Mission Agency leadership cabinet for approval.

Although concerns have been raised regarding additional requirements for some grant recipients to ensure compliance with grant standards, De La Rosa said the application process would be evaluated after six months, measuring its efficiency and reception, and modified if needed.

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