Spotlight on Stimulus - Grants September 15 2009
As budgets, teachers and programs are cut in school districts across the country, our attention may turn to how we can receive funds through grants.
Grant money is available through local and national businesses and charitable organizations. However, the federal government also runs its own grant program. Before you get started on researching these opportunities, take some time to prepare.
Often, there is someone at the district level who has some interest or involvement in helping teachers and schools procure grants. Contact your district's Public Relations or Communications Specialist. If these individuals aren't involved, ask for guidance about who you can work with. Whoever oversees grant writing at the district level may also be able to point you to local or state resources that may also fund your request.
Also, consider partnering with colleagues or parents in this process. This will help lighten the already heavy workload, dividing the paperwork among you, as well as the tasks that will occur after you win a grant. Put in writing all of the vital information before you start to make sure everyone's on the same page.
What Vital Information?
As you start to put together your grant requests, there are pieces of information you need to have stored and easily accessible. These include:
- School Name and Address
- Tax ID Number
- School Type, Grades
- Type of Request
- Students Involved
- Contact People
- Email Addresses
- Phone Numbers
Additional information that would be helpful but may not be neccesary to include every time:
- School Board Member Summaries
- List of School District Executives (names and phone numbers)
- Number of Volunteer Hours Logged Per Month (your parent-teacher organization should have this information)
- Percentage of ELL Population
- Percentage of Free/Reduced Lunch Population
- Title I School?
What Goes in a Grant?
Here are basic guidelines to consider when putting a grant request together.
Do the priorities of your project line up with the organization's priorities? Is there a focus on providing opportunities for disadvantaged kids? Or supplementing math and science experiences? How can you craft your goals so that they meet up with what's important to the organization? If they don't match, then move on to an organization that's a better fit.
Just being able to provide an educational experience isn't good enough - students need to demonstrate understanding in the area of study through a project of some kind. Is there a culminating activity that would not only involve your students, but also the broader community? For example, an evening Art Show could be the culminating project for a grant resulting in the purchase of a kiln.
What other ways are you working to generate funds for this project? Consider putting on a short, simple fundraiser, or getting your classroom parents involved. Your school's Parent-Teacher organization might also be interested in helping you with matching funds or volunteer hours.
Nuts and Bolts
Read the guidelines carefully BEFORE even beginning to write! Although each organization may request additional information, these are the usual pieces required in a grant request:
- Project Title
- Amount Requested
- Project Description
- Project Implementation
- Project Outcomes and Benefits
- Budget (General, not necessarily line item, but account for ALL of the funds)
When You're Done...
You're not really done.
Read, read and then reread the grant guidelines as well as your grant request. Follow the guidelines carefully. There are many requests, and evaluators of those requests will throw yours out if you haven't followed the rules! Don't make it easy for them.
After you receive a grant, happy work begins! Take pictures along the way, then put together a slideshow to send to the organization who awarded the grant. Or, consider sending something from the project funded by your grant.
Federal Government Grants
The U.S. Department of Education has helpful downloads and other information for those wanting to submit grant requests. Some helpful links:
Grants.gov - this is the most user friendly of the three.