Drug-Free Communities Mentoring Program

Information for Potential Applicants of the DFC Mentoring Program

The primary goal of the Mentoring grant is to assist newly forming coalitions in becoming eligible to apply for DFC funding on their own. It is the intent of the DFC Mentoring Program that, at the end of the Mentoring grant, each Mentee coalition meet all of the Statutory eligibility requirements of the DFC Program and be fully prepared to compete for the DFC grant on their own. Grantees will be expected to achieve this goal by implementing the following objectives:

  • Strengthen Mentee coalition’s organizational structure;
  • Increase Mentee coalition’s leadership and community readiness to address youth substance use problems in the Mentee community; and
  • Assist the Mentee coalition in working through a strategic planning process that will result in a comprehensive community Action Plan.

In addition to and through the DFC Mentoring Program, Mentor coalition will develop mentoring activities that will support and encourage the development of the Mentee coalition(s) that are focused on the prevention of youth substance use. Funding through this grant is intended to provide the Mentee coalition with the training and technical assistance necessary to ensure formation of a strong community coalition.  

Mentoring applications are accepted only from current DFC grantees that are in good standing (i.e., not on high risk status) with the program under the Terms and Conditions of their regular DFC grant.  Applicants can ask for no more than $75,000 per year for up to two years.  The DFC Mentoring program has its own statutory eligibility requirements and all must be met to be considered eligible for funding and move to peer review for scoring.

The DFC Mentoring Program was established as a part of DFC when the program was reauthorized in 2001 (Public Law 107-82, 115 Stat. 814). The DFC Mentoring Program was also included in the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-469). The latest reauthorization extended the program until 2012.

How to Apply for a DFC Mentoring Grant

The DFC Mentoring program posts the Request for Applications (RFA) in February of each year.  Potential applicants can find the DFC RFA at Grants.gov, SAMSHA.gov, and on this website.  It is imperative that applicants use the correct RFA when applying.  We do not recommend reading or using previously submitted and/or funded applications.  The DFC Mentoring RFA changes every year because of lessons learned in the previous funding cycle or because the program naturally experiences changes over time and these should be reflected in the questions asked in the Mentoring RFA.

DFC Mentoring  Program Grant Cycle

Applicants must follow the Mentoring RFA as it is written and in its entirety.  The Mentoring RFA is typically comprised of specific parts:  Community Overview (one page, not scored), Project Narrative (scored, has a page limit), Budget/Budget Narrative (scored, has a page limit) and the Attachments (not scored, Statutory eligibility requirement evidence).  All parts must be included in your application as outlined in the RFA.

"Applicants should note that SAMHSA no longer accepts paper backup submissions if you elect to use Grants.Gov.  Since the paper backup was used to offset any challenges encountered with your online submission, ONDCP recommends you consider submitting your application in hard copy form based on the instructions published within the RFA.  Many of our DFC applicants have stated a preference for the hard copy (paper) submission because of the number of documents and statutory eligibility attachments associated with your DFC application.  While the form in which you submit (paper versus electronic) has no bearing on your score, it is important to note if your application is missing any of the required eligibility documentation, it cannot proceed to peer review." 

Get your application in on time.  You can begin to collect the statutory eligibility requirements today.  Do not depend on overnight delivery of your application.  Send it about a week in advance of the posted due date.  If it is late, it will be deemed ineligible.

Within 30 days of submitting your application, the individual listed as the Business Official will receive notification from SAMSHA that your application has been received.  If you do not receive this notification, contact Cynthia Riddick at Cynthia.Riddick@samhsa.hhs.gov.

Statutory Eligibility Requirements for the DFC Mentoring Program

Statutory eligibility requirements, written into the DFC Act and the subsequent Reauthorization of the DFC program by Congress in 2006, are inherent in the DFC Mentoring program.  Failure to meet any single eligibility requirement will cause the application to be deemed ineligible and the application will not move forward to peer review. Should your application fail to meet the eligibility requirements, the individual listed as the Business Official on the Application for Federal Assistance will receive a letter stating why the application was deemed ineligible. Final authority lies with the DFC Administrator to determine the eligibility of an application.

All DFC Mentoring applications will be jointly screened by ONDCP and SAMHSA to determine whether each applicant meets all the statutory eligibility requirements for the DFC Mentoring program. Applications submitted by eligible DFC grantees will then be scored through a peer review process according to the evaluation criteria described the DFC Request for Applications.

The following table contains a summary of the statutory eligibility requirements for the DFC Mentoring Program and the minimum documentation applicants must provide to meet the eligibility criteria. Each year, DFC Mentoring grantees must demonstrate compliance with all of the following statutory eligibility requirements to be considered for funding.

Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 1: Mentor’s 5 Years of Existence The Mentor coalition must have been in existence for at least five years. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(1)) Evidence Required: Applicant must provide the date the Mentor coalition was established. This does not mean that the Mentor coalition has had a DFC grant for five years, but that it has been in existence for at least five years.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 2: Mentor in Good Standing The Mentor coalition must be in compliance with all requirements of their existing DFC grant (i.e., DFC reporting and Grants Management requirements) for the previous year. A DFC grantee on high-risk status is not eligible to submit an application for a DFC Mentoring grant. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (a)) Evidence Required: Applicant must provide information documenting current DFC award. Note: In order to qualify for a DFC Mentoring grant, the applicant must be a Year 1-9 DFC grantee at the time of application. A Year 5 DFC grantee is allowed to apply for a Mentoring grant, but the Mentoring application will only be considered if a Year 6 DFC grant is awarded.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 3: Mentor’s Measurable Results The Mentor coalition must have achieved, through its own efforts, measurable results in the prevention of substance use among youth. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(2)) Evidence Required: Report baseline and most recent DFC Mentor coalition core measures data, if applicable, that reflect change. 
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 4:  Mentor’s Commitment The Mentor coalition must have at least one paid or volunteer staff person, as well as sector volunteers, willing to serve as mentors to the Mentee coalition in the prevention of youth substance use. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(3)) Evidence Required: Applicant must provide information documenting staff and sector volunteer involvement in the Mentee coalition.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 5: Mentee’s Status The Mentee coalition is not currently and never has been funded through the DFC grant program. Evidence Required: The Mentee coalition has no prior history of DFC funding.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 6: Mentee’s Willingness to Participate The Mentor coalition must demonstrate that there is a willingness on the part of the Mentee coalition and its community to actively participate in the mentoring process. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(4)) Evidence Required: Submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mentor coalition and each Mentee coalition. Applicants are not required to use the exact language provided and can modify the MOU to describe the partnership between Mentor and Mentee coalitions.  The MOU must contain two signatures. One must be from the representative for the Mentor coalition and one from the Mentee coalition. The Mentor Coalition and each Mentee Coalition must attach amatching Coalition Involvement Agreement (CIA) from each person listed in their individual Sector Member Table. The Mentor Coalition is expected to provide at least 12 CIAs representing each of the required sectors. The Mentee Coalition IS NOT required to have all 12 sectors committed at the time of application.  However, the Mentee Coalition is required to provide a matching CIA for each member already recruited to the coalition at the time of application. CIAs cannot be more than 12 months old at the time of application. Two signatures are required on each CIA. One signature must be that of the individual listed in the Sector Member Table, and the other must be the signature of someone who represents the Mentor coalition. All signatures must be hand written and dated.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 7:  Mentoring Plan The Mentor coalition must submit a detailed Mentoring Plan for the mentoring activities to be supported by the grant. *(21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (d)(5)) Evidence Required: Provide a detailed Mentoring Plan that includes activities that will address the needs of the Mentee coalition in becoming eligible to apply for DFC funding on its own.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 8:  Substantial Support from Non-Federal Sources The Mentor coalition must demonstrate a minimum of a 1:1 match in non-Federal funds not previously identified as match to their current DFC grant. (21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (g)(1)) Evidence Required: Show at least dollar for dollar (1:1) matching funds in the detailed Budget Narrative. Matching funds must come from non-Federal sources. Applicants must itemize the match separately in the budget and explain the match separately in the Budget Narrative. Federal funds appropriated for the substance abuse prevention activities of a coalition that includes a representative of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, or a tribal government agency with expertise in the field of substance abuse may be counted as match.
Eligibility Requirements Evidence Required and Where to Document
Requirement 9:  Federal Request The Mentor coalition may not request more than $75,000 in Federal funds per year.  (21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (g)(2)) Evidence Required: The budget may not show a request for Federal funds exceeding $75,000/year. Budget totals must correspond on the Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424, Section 18), Budget (SF-424A), and Budget Narrative.