Celebrating the Work You Do: Amanecer Grant Writing in 2020

Amanecer’s History

Amanecer—meaning new beginnings in Spanish, was founded in 1975 by Dr Cecil Hoffman. Amanecer Community Counseling Services has been providing new beginnings, hope, and resources to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable residents for 45 years.  Dr. Hoffman founded Amanecer based on the belief that the life-restoring benefits of counseling should be available to all who need them.  The organization has grown today to include talk therapy and art therapy for children, homelessness resources and support, therapy for adults, an inpatient program for adults with severe mental illness, medication management, support groups and a domestic violence program.  In 2019 Amanecer served 1,939 clients and their families.

            Amanecer is funded from a variety of sources.  They receive major private donations as well as support from corporations in the Los Angeles area. Their most significant source of funding comes from grants.  Amanecer has received grants from Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the Weingart Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, California Community Foundation, Queenscare and many, many more. Amanecer grantwriter Courtney Mattox has had success applying for grants that fit Amanecer’s demographics and mission using analytics found within their EHR, Exym.

New Funding Needs in 2020

            2020 has been an unpredictable year for all of us, and agencies like Amanecer are no exception to that reality. They’ve had to pivot to provide therapy to clients online or over the phone, and the community they serve has new needs during the pandemic.  With these new needs, there have also been new expenses and Amanecer has been very successful in finding new funding opportunities so they can continue to serve their community, especially those most hard-hit by the pandemic.

Grant Writing for Funding

            Amanecer received a grant from Cedars-Sinai Hospital at the beginning of Covid-19 that specifically met the needs of lower-income clients who did not have access to phones or internet to continue with therapy services.  The grant helped their IT team purchase inexpensive cell phones and prepay for data so that clients’ services would not be disrupted.  This was particularly important because while 2020 has been exceptionally stressful for everyone, lower-income populations are feeling the impact and fear in a more severe way due to job loss, documentation status, and housing & food insecurity. 

            Amanecer was also successful in pivoting to provide basic needs support during the pandemic and in finding the funding to accomplish that.  The California Community Foundation and the United Way both donated funding to purchase PPE, deliver groceries to clients, and to provide emergency shelter. This is particularly important because many of those seeking support at Amanecer are undocumented and they aren’t eligible for unemployment or support from the state that others are able to receive right now.  Amanecer’s understanding that therapy won’t be as effective if basic needs aren’t met is crucial for the clients they serve and has provided a lifeline in this difficult time.

            The work of grant writing is something that’s always ongoing.  Now that Amanecer has provided for client’s basic needs, they are looking for grants that provide rent relief for their clients who have been unable to work.  They are required to report outcomes to their grantors throughout the year about the success of their programs and how the money they received was spent. Grants have different due dates and cycles so each month provides new opportunities for application submission.

Grant Writing + Exym’s Behavioral Health EHR

            Amanecer has found that their behavioral health EHR, Exym, is a valuable tool in finding the data they need to apply for and secure grants, and report back on their outcomes. They are able to pull data on diagnoses, zip codes, language spoken, age of the client, trauma history, and undocumented status that makes it easy to quickly see what grants they’re eligible for and to provide exact numbers to grantors.  Most grants are looking to serve a specific population, diagnosis or age group and the information in Exym’s behavioral health EHR makes it easy to accurately pull that data.

            Grant writing is something that most nonprofits rely on.  It’s also something that can seem intimidating if you don’t understand it. Amanecer has been successful in securing grants because of their smart use of data and their unwavering commitment to meet the needs of the clients they serve.