Letters to the Pilot

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Why 'Harkin grants?'

A heading on one story reads "Area schools get thousands in Harkin grants for safety." I am confused; just exactly what is a Harkin Grant? Have the senator and his wife placed money into a foundation that donates money to various groups? Would you explain to your readers what is a Harkin Grant and where do they originate?

- Robert Klockow, Aurelia

Editor's note: The program commonly known as "Harkin Grants" is the "Fire (life) Safety Grant" federal program, as most recently funded by the FY2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and distributed by the Iowa Department of Education.

The term "Harkin Grants" came into use in 1977, when, according to the senator's office, Harkin launched two pilot programs to determine how federal dollars could encourage local schools to undertake construction projects to make conditions safer. The demonstration programs led to federal funding, as Harkin's staff is quick to remind Iowans each election year. While the senator deserves his share of credit, as always, the ultimate source of the money is taxpayers. Thanks for your question.