Disapprovals & Reconsiderations
Communicating with disapproved applicants can be challenging because councils often wish they could fund everyone and delivering bad news is difficult. It is important for council members to be clear in correspondence with applicants. This section suggests some good ways to communicate with applicants whose applications have been denied or who are requesting reconsideration.
Following a grant cycle voting meeting, councils must notify their disapproved applicants of their decision in writing via email or hard copy. In the case that an email disapproval notification is undeliverable, councils should follow up by sending a hard copy. If a council member needs to be reimbursed for administrative expenses, the council member should submit a Reimbursement Form to the town accountant with proof of expenditures. The town may have additional requirements, which they should communicate to the local cultural council acceptance letters are sent so grantees can be made aware of these requirements.
Disapproval letters must provide applicants with clear reasons for denial based on published state guidelines or council priorities, and include information on the reconsideration process. "Insufficient funds" does not provide applicants with adequate rationale for disapproval.
LCCs should not use "technical disapprovals." For example, if a council accepts paper applications, the council cannot deny an applicant if they did not provide enough copies. Councils should not deny applications based on misspellings or incomplete information. Additionally, while some councils find it useful to conduct applicant interviews as part of the grant review process, councils should not disapprove an application for the sole reason that the applicant was unable to attend an applicant interview.
Getting unclear or confusing information in a disapproval letter can be very discouraging for applicants. A discouraging experience can prevent an otherwise promising applicant from applying in the future. A sample letter listing the most common reasons for disapproval can be adapted as a way to give feedback to applicants.
Furthermore, because these are public dollars, disapproved applicants are entitled to request reconsideration if they believe the council did not follow published state guidelines and/or council priorities. Instructions for reconsideration should be included in the disapproval letter that is sent to disapproved applicants. Disapproved applicants must be notified first, before approved applicants, in case they present a legitimate case for reconsideration and the local council reverses its decision and grants them funds. Approval letters cannot be sent until the 15-day reconsideration period has passed and the LCC has completed the Annual Report to the MCC.
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After sending out disapproval letters, councils must allow for a 15-day reconsideration period before notifying successful applicants of their recommendations. This waiting period is necessary because a successful request for reconsideration could result in a change in the recommended awards.
An applicant may request reconsideration of an LCC decision on his or her application if the applicant can demonstrate that the LCC failed to follow published state guidelines and local priorities. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an application or with the amount of an award does not constitute grounds for reconsideration. Disapproval letters must provide applicants with clear reasons for denial based on published state guidelines or local priorities, and information on the reconsideration process. "Insufficient funds" does not provide applicants with adequate rationale for disapproval.
Reconsideration requests must be made in writing via either email or hard copy, and sent to the MCC at the MCC mailing address, or at email@example.com within 15 days of the notification date on the disapproval notification (postmarked date on envelope or timestamp on email). The applicant should also send a copy of the request to the LCC. The request should include:
- The council's disapproval letter to the applicant.
- The applicant's reason for requesting reconsideration stating how the LCC failed to follow published state guidelines or council priorities.
Within 15 days of receiving a reconsideration request, the MCC will determine if the applicant has grounds for reconsideration, and will notify both the applicant and council of its decision.
If the MCC determines that the applicant has grounds for reconsideration, the local council must convene a quorum of members and review the application, as if for the first time. Following all published state guidelines and council priorities, the local council must decide whether to approve or deny the grant request and must notify the applicant of the final determination in writing, via email or hard copy. Please note that if an email disapproval notification is undeliverable, councils should follow up by sending a hard copy.
A decision on any requests for reconsideration should be made before LCCs finalize funding decisions and complete the annual report to the MCC. Only after the annual report to the MCC has been completed, can successful applicants be notified of their approval.
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