February 21, 2021 – Sunday
I recently wrote this grant proposal (below) seeking funding for some special projects / special expenses with Lead Safe Mama, LLC, and having written it, I thought I would also share it here – both so you will know what future plans are for Lead Safe Mama, but also in case you might know of other similar funding opportunities or might want to share this with others interested in getting involved with this work. [The funding we have applied for is from a foundation that makes grants to nonprofits and small businesses — so you don’t need to be a nonprofit to be awarded a grant!]
Since I have already started posting about my “Goals for 2021” (link here), I am going to add this to that goal list… with the specific goal being to receive funding to expand the reach of this work and cover the programs and expenses discussed below. The amount requested with this grant was $335,000, over three years. While I hope that this particular grant application will generate the source of that funding (my work is closely aligned with the granting foundation – and I should know if they are interested in helping in a month or so), if that particular opportunity does not work out, I will still hold “finding funding for these projects and expenses” as a specific goal for 2021.
In writing this grant proposal (a first submission / summary / overview), there was a limit of 7,500 characters – so it is succinct in several areas as a result of that specific restriction. If they accept us past the first round of this grant proposal process, we will follow up with more detailed information (like taxes and budgets and other similar program documentation and metrics – with sources, along with more detailed narrative information on specific programs).
I created the Ten Minutes With Tamara video series (13 episodes, with my editor Heidi Zimmerman – who worked on the film) so I would have them to share to support this grant proposal. Those videos cost me a total of about $11,000 to produce as a prototype series, and if this is funded we will be able to continue making more of these important videos. Here is the link to see all of them if you have not yet watched them.
The only thing I am adding to what I am sharing with you here on the website today (in addition to the 7,500 characters submitted) is an annotation indicating Lead Safe Mama, LLC’s net profit each year (in pink, below) – there were not enough characters left to include that in the initial submission [in the instructions they were only asking about income / sources of income, not expense history or amounts – and I figured if we got past that point they would see all of the actual numbers in Lead Safe Mama, LLC’s bookkeeping records and taxes]; I thought providing those numbers here would be helpful for context for you – my readers.
As always, thank you for you interest in and support of this work!
My grant proposal:
Q. Why are so many children still being Lead poisoned today?
A. Because information about childhood Lead poisoning prevention is simply not reaching parents.
Lead Safe Mama, LLC (LSM) is a small Portland, Oregon based woman-owned business with a primary focus on childhood Lead-poisoning prevention outreach & education. The LeadSafeMama.com website had more than 1.15 million unique individual readers annually, in over 200 countries for the past two years.
The thing that makes the work of the LSM team unique is that we reach young mothers (95% of our readership & followers are mothers between the ages of 20 & 35) regardless of income or race or socio-economic status – where they “live” (on social media) & when they are looking for information (in any odd spare moment – at all hours of the day & night – but especially focused on hours after the kids have gone to bed).
Our goal is simple: educating every parent about the impacts of childhood Lead poisoning & the importance of primary prevention.
Our main avenues for engaging parents are Facebook; YouTube; Instagram & via the LSM blog. The LSM Facebook page currently has over 37,000 followers. Our main Facebook group has over 11,000 members (to my knowledge, this is the single largest Lead-poisoning prevention advocacy discussion group). We also have nearly 5,500 subscribers to the LSM newsletter & nearly 4,000 followers on Instagram.
I am the founder of LSM, & a mother of Lead-poisoned children (my sons were acutely poisoned in 2005). An important directive for LSM is to hire & work with mothers returning to the workforce after taking time off to care for kids, including creating opportunities for them to work at home — so they are able to continue prioritizing caring for children. In 2019 LSM had 7 such subcontractors.
The work of the LSM team has received 2 awards from the Federal government, via HUD & a consortium of public agencies (EPA, USDA, USDoE, FDA, CDC) at the National Healthy Homes Conferences in 2011 (Denver) & 2014 (Nashville), for our “pioneering success” — using social media to effectively reach more parents with information & resources about the issue than other initiatives with similar goals. In 2011 I was presented with the “National Healthy Homes Hero” award. In 2014, my grassroots parent-led advocacy work was presented with the “Best Overall Communication Campaign” award — winning out over many [better funded] hospitals, & universities.
Our documentary film, MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic has had over 30,000 views since it was uploaded to YouTube (13 months ago); it is available for parents to view for free. The film includes interviews with top experts in fields related to childhood Lead-poisoning (doctors; scientists; teachers; etc.), & parents of Lead-poisoned children across the U.S.; the soundtrack includes music donated by The Who, Tom Waits, & other musicians; it includes footage from my event with Bernie Sanders in Flint, MI in 2016, & interview w/ Noam Chomsky.
In addition to providing free advice & support for inquiries around childhood Lead-poisoning prevention via social media, Lead Safe Mama, LLC does independent consumer goods testing — including testing & reporting on toxicants for items sent in by readers, using XRF technology [the LSM blog has over 2,700 posts & pages – much of which is XRF test results for products].
Reporting on toxicants found in common consumer goods is a unique – and particularly effective – way to engage parents. Informing a parent that their home may have Lead paint, & thus may not be safe for their kids is often too confronting. However, teaching a parent that their dishes (or toys or heirlooms) may contain Lead, gets them interested in the subject in a new way, encouraging them to take a closer look at products they have in their homes. They then become motivated to learn more about the issue, normally resulting in them getting a Blood Lead Level test for their child.
In over 15 years immersed in this issue, we have found that the absolute best tool to protect kids from being Lead-poisoned is the sharing of personal stories by impacted families.
To expand the reach of the work we are doing at LSM (by sharing more personal stories – similar to what has been done with the film), in 2020 we created a YouTube series – “Ten Minutes with Tamara” – in which I interview parents of Lead-poisoned children (and others with related questions). Each interview is edited to be short & engaging (just ten minutes). The videos are also fully-captioned, so young mothers can watch them with the sound off (with kids underfoot) as they often prefer to do.
Over the past several months – specifically in preparing to submit this grant, for YOUR consideration- we completed a prototype run of the video series with 13 videos (linked below). Included are interviews with mothers in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States – as well as a 3-part interview with Jon Fishman (drummer of the band Phish – & father of a Lead-poisoned child). Some of the videos in the protoype for the series are more demonstration-style teaching videos — educating parents about specific Lead concerns in housing. All of the videos are done in a fun, informal style designed to be engaging & interesting to young mothers.
We are seeking funding for the following projects & supportive elements of our work (in the form of a grant or low interest long-term small business loan):
- three years of costs for production of the Ten Minutes With Tamara video series. The goal is to produce 50 videos per year – released weekly. With this video series, we hope to capture & share as many stories of families of Lead-poisoned children as possible — similar to how Stephen Spielberg’s work documents the stories of holocaust survivors.
- to purchase a new Niton XL5 XRF instrument for consumer goods testing;
- to purchase a “Lead Safe Mama mobile” (utility truck) to use to travel the country for outreach events during warmer months.
- to cover the cost of additional administrative support for to help with the anticiapted project growth and expansion.
- to cover special project costs including protyping, designing and developing a traveling museum exhibit of toxic consumer goods throughout history (items featured on the LSM blog). The exhibt will travel between science & art museums around the United States (we already have three interested museums.) We are also working on completing an engaging coffee table photo book for parents of Lead-poisoned children to help them share about the issue. This will be a companion piece for the exhibit.
- Film Link on YouTube
- Link to Ten Minutes with Tamaraseries
- Link to 2020 EOY stats, including a list of all countries with LSM readers.
- Gross LSM income in 2018 was apprx. $59,000 (net loss: <$12,431.88>)
- In 2019 it doubled to apprx. $122,000 (net profit: $12,710)
- In 2020 we anticipated income to double again to $240,000 and this did not happen due to the impacts of CoViD-19 on our business. Instead Gross LSM income in 2020 was apprx. $116,000 (approximate net profit: $9,832.39)
- The above noted income comes from non-tax-deductible contrbutions made by readers, fans and followers, advertsing income (generated via page-views on the LSM website) and consulting income income related to the work helping families and others. When some families pay for the cost of services this helps us to offer support to low income families who otherwise could not afford services.
Granted or loaned funds will allow us to continue to expand and grow to meet the need in spite of the impacts of CoViD-19 on the business.