One of the greatest challenges for educators is finding sources of money to allow for innovation and technology in the classroom. Funding is barely available to pay salaries and buy basic supplies. Therefore, teachers and administrators who truly wish to try new ideas that require additional funds have to personally find sources for this money. Grants can be a godsend to solve financial shortcomings. However, two major stumbling blocks are associated with attaining grants: locating them and writing them.
Locating GrantsAssessing Needs
Before your search even begins, you must have a project that you wish to fund. What is it that you want to accomplish? Any project you support must align with the needs of your school or community. Grant providers want to clearly see the necessity of your program. To make sure that your project fulfills a need, compare what your school or community has now to what you feel it should have. Use this information to create possible solutions. The upfront time spent investigating this chasm between your school's reality and your vision for it will pay off when it comes time to write your grant proposal. Do some preliminary research to find a solid educational basis for your idea. Map out the steps necessary to complete your project including necessary funding at each step. Remember throughout your design phase to keep in mind how you will evaluate your project using measurable outcomes. Make a Project Worksheet
Make a preliminary worksheet concerning what you believe you will need for your project. By doing this, you can get a clear picture of what the grant you are searching for must look like. Some items your chart could include are:
- Project Overview
- Need for Project
- Research Sources
- Amount Needed
- Special School/Community Circumstance
- Evaluation Methods
The most important piece of advice you can get when beginning your grant search is to carefully match your project with the grantor's award requirements. For example, if the desired grant is only given to schools in inner cities, only apply if you meet that criterion. Otherwise, you'll be wasting your time. With that in mind, three major sources for grant money exist: Federal and State Governments, Private Foundations, and Corporations. Each has its own agenda and differing levels of requirements concerning who can apply, the application process itself, how the money must be spent, and the methods of evaluation. So where can you search for each type? Luckily there are some awesomesites on the internet.
You are welcome to modify and use this basic grant match rubric to determine how well the grant fits your project.
Writing grant proposals is a complicated and time-consuming process. Here are some great tips to help make grant writing easier. I would like to acknowledge Jennifer Smith of Pasco County Schools for generously sharing many of these tips.
- Start with outcomes. Be specific in what you wish to achieve and design your project back from these outcomes.
- Carefully match your goals and outcomes with those required by the grant advertisement. You can use the Grant Match Rubric to help make your decision.
- Talk to the grant contact person to receive specific information about the purpose and goals of the grant.
- Find research to support your project idea. Programs that have been previously validated have more merit because they have shown success in the past.
- Find a district sponsor. Get them to help with any red tape or information you might need to complete your grant proposal.
- Make your grant proposal interesting to read through good formatting. Remember that people are going to judge your ideas against others and a pleasing and well-organized presentation will get you further. Include pie charts. Set off your information with appropriate indentations.
- Use language to your advantage. Quote from notable sources.
- Make a column to accent exactly where in your grant proposal each component of the grant's grading rubric is met.
- As you write your strategies for the grant proposal, keep assessment methods in mind. Think about how you are going to measurably show what you will accomplish.
- Look closely at any funding rules to make sure you do not ask for items that the grant will not fund. For example, Florida state grants do not allow food items to be bought with grant money.
- Check out the grant to see if matching funds are required. Many school districts will not have the money to match even if you are awarded the grant. However, professional volunteers can count as 'in-kind contributions'.
- Check with your School District to find out the rules concerning salaries for any individuals working on the project. Many districts require you to account for benefits in your funding model.
- Find out whether the grant requires outside evaluators. If so, you might have to pay for them out of your funding.
- Make sure your budget narrative and your budget summary match exactly.
- Grants are stamped when they are received. Try to send in your grants a few days early so that it appears you are on the ball.
- Because school districts are limited in the number of Federal and State grants they can apply for, many districts must approve of your grant proposal before it can be sent out. Because of the time constraints on many of these grants, you must plan ahead. Also, make sure you are not competing with others at your own school or district for the same money.
- Make a database if one is not currently available in your district of important demographic numbers and statistics. Place this information in your grant proposals as requested highlighting special needs.
- Get to know your state's grant contact personnel. If they see your name cross their desk and they can place you, you have a better shot.
- If you plan to write numerous grants, create templates for commonly needed forms. This is especially useful for state and federal grant that repeat a lot of the same information.
- Be honest both in the grant proposal itself and with yourself concerning what you can actually accomplish. Remember, you have to follow through with whatever plans you make.Other Articles