No-Cost Grant Writing Services Available for School Building Improvements 

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

To: Superintendents, Business Managers
From: Michael Elliott, Director of School Facilities and Special Projects
Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Subject: No-Cost Grant Writing Services Available for School Building Improvements 

Dear Superintendents and Business Managers,

SMART, the Northwest Regional Council of Sheet Metal Workers Local-16, has hired a grant writing team to assist Oregon school districts, and local educational agencies with authority over public elementary schools or secondary schools, secure federal infrastructure bill funding to improve school buildings. (

Eligible building improvements include air ventilation to improve air quality in classrooms; heating and air conditioning; energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. ('s%20Schools%20grant,FOA)%20launched%20in%20November%202022)

The goals of the SMART program are to install new mechanical and energy saving systems in school buildings to reduce maintenance costs, improve the health of children in the buildings and create well-paying jobs.

SMART is seeking initial school districts to participate in this program, which is why we are contacting you. We are able to handle a minimum of four school districts in the program, but if more districts sign up to participate, we will seek additional funding to assist those districts.

You do not have to do a lot to get this started. SMART has created a process to provide boots on the ground to support you receiving this money. 

SMART has hired Community System Solutions (CSS) to develop and run the program. CSS is a non-profit organization which provides grant writing and project management services to organizations, including trade unions. (

If you wish to participate in this program, please contact Mike Bahr of Community System Solutions, 541-505-2429 or

CSS will conduct a quick, free eligibility screening, based on the federal priority of targeting schools in disadvantaged communities as schools which serve as community assets.

For School Districts which are chosen to participate in this program, there are several steps to the process, but there is no cost for any of them:

  1. Community System Solutions will coordinate with school districts and facilities managers to schedule facility audits at all schools in each participating school district.
  2. SMART team auditors will review ventilation/air handling, heating and air conditioning equipment and electrical systems.
  3. SMART 16 members will set up air handling/ventilation monitors in some classrooms to check existing airflow.
  4. Based on the information gathered, equipment and construction budgets will be created for the grant applications.
  5. Community System Solutions will prepare the grant applications and coordinate with the school districts regarding grant information and submission of the grant.
  6. The grants will be submitted in the name of the school district.
  7. If awarded, the grant will be awarded to the school district. Grant application will include grant management and project management funds to cover the school district’s cost of managing the grant and project.

The only requirement for schools to participate in the program are if they receive a grant, they must:

  • Provide a cost share of at least 5% of the total allowable costs.
  • Follow the grant's federally required labor standards, which includes that workers on the projects have the right to join a union; and
  • Follow Oregon SB 420 and establish these public improvement contracts as community benefit contracts.

To start this process, please contact Mike Bahr of Community System Solutions, 541-505-2429 or