The Three P’s Of School Grant Writing
If you’re planning to apply for a major grant, be sure you have the support of your principal or superintendent. Many grants for more than a few thousand dollars require a senior officer’s signature to agree to implement the grant within the school system.
In addition, school districts are limited in the number of state and federal grants for which they can apply. If you’re applying for a government grant, you’ll need permission — whatever the amount.
Before you even start the funding process, however, you need a project. “The most important thing is to have a project in mind and then search for a grant to fund the project,” Smith said. “Many people do the opposite; they hear about a grant and then try to find a project to fit it. The writing is much harder when you don’t have a clear plan in mind and know exactly what you want to do before beginning applying for a grant.”
As soon as you have a project in mind and permission to implement it, formulate your plan. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a grant application form before solidifying the details of your project! Begin right away with a written account of the project’s:
- background. Document the need for your project with demographics, test results, and anecdotal evidence.
- mission statement. Identify the project’s potential outcome.
- goals and objectives. Make sure they are specific and measurable.
- planned assessment tool(s). Again, be specific.
- required materials, supplies, and personnel.
- total cost.
Having this information in hand will make it much easier to locate appropriate funding sources — and to complete the grant application when the time comes.
And be sure to start the process early. Experienced grant-writers say that, depending on costs and the amount of funding, it can take months, in some instances a year or more, before you receive any funds.
After you have a detailed picture of all aspects of your project, it’s time to find the necessary funding. Start by searching online and library resources.
You might begin your search with some of the resources in the Grant Resources and Grant Sources sections at the end of this article. You should also investigate local government agencies, educational and civic organizations, and businesses as possible sources of funding.
The best funding sources are education-related businesses, U.S. Department of Education programs, state department of education programs, and philanthropic organizations. Many magazines also highlight education grants and most states have web sites announcing grants.
Most importantly, however, look for funding sources whose philosophy and focus are consistent with your project’s goals and objectives.
Contact those grant funders who are the best matches based on your research. Don’t limit yourself to a single funding source. Obtain their funding guidelines and, if possible, a list of previously funded projects. Determine whether the average amount of funding is consistent with your needs.
Speak personally with a contact person involved with the funding who can answer your questions and provide advice and guidance. Be sure to ask how projects are reviewed, how decisions are made, and how and when funding is dispersed. Develop a relationship with your contact person and keep the lines of communication open throughout the application process.