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Spur to Innovation: An Examination of the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Field-Initiated Grant Program

NCJ Number
Aubrey Fox
Date Published
December 2013
13 pages
This report provides information about the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Field-Initiated Grant Program.
This report by the Center for Court Innovation provides information about the Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA's) Field-Initiated Grant Program. The Field-Initiated Grant Program was begun in 2009 to encourage criminal justice agencies to propose and implement new approaches to dealing with difficult crime problems, and unlike many other Federal grant programs, was intentionally left open-ended. This means that grantees have the ability to propose their own ideas and set their own priorities. In 2009 and 2010, 21 organizations received awards through this program. To determine the effectiveness of this program, the Center for Court Innovation reviewed the 21 applications and all relevant grant documents, spoke with BJA staff responsible for managing the program, and interviewed representatives of the organizations that received awards. The main findings from the reviews and interviews are: (1) the grant allowed recipients to target needs that would have otherwise gone unmet; (2) recipients appreciated that the grant gave them a way to get ahead of the curve and respond to emerging issues; (3) applicants understood the purpose of the grant; (4) the process of applying itself served as a spur to innovation; (5) grant recipients face the challenges of communicating the results of their projects to the field; (6) many of the organizations that ultimately received funding had long experience in applying for funding to BJA; (7) respondents reported interest in learning more about other funded projects, and even those that did not receive funding; and (8) respondents uniformly believed that BJA should continue the program or even expand it.