Teacher Tap

 

Grants and Grant Writing

Where can I find funding for grant projects?
 
How do I write a grant that will get funded?
 
What are the best sources of funding?

moneyMost schools have limited funding for technology. Hardware, software, networking, and staff development all cost money. The solution for many schools is grant writing. If you really want to implement all your great technology integration ideas, you need funding and support. Right now lots of schools are looking for ways to address the No Child Left Behind Act. Use the following links from the US Department of Education to keep up-to-date on these programs:

Grant Resources Starting Points

You'll never get a grant, if you don't write one. Getting started is the key to effective grant writing. Use the following resources to learn more about grants and grant writing.

Exploring Grant Possibilities

Explore some current grant opportunities using the links below:

The first step is to determine whether you're interested in the program. Once you've decided you like the opportunity, you need to determine whether you're qualified to participate. Some programs have restrictions. For example, your school may need to meet particular "low income" standards.

Who has been awarded the grant in the past? What kinds of projects do they fund? See if you can find sample projects or past winners. Abstracts of projects are often included on web pages. You may even be able to email a past recipient and ask about their grant writing strategy.

Next, examine the application materials. How can you follow the guidelines of the grant, but make yours stand out? Be sure to follow the directions carefully. In many cases, your grant will not be considered if the guidelines are not followed exactly. An email address may be provided if you have specific questions about the grant process. In many cases, the criteria is provided for grant evaluation. This is very helpful in self-evaluation. It's also a good idea to have some peers evaluate your grant. Be sure to check the deadline. They often have very short timelines so you need to be ready.

Regardless of whether you're applying for a mini-grant or for a large-scale grant, the process is basically the same. While larger grants sometimes have additional requirements or steps, they all have an application and review process. In some cases such as a National Science Foundation grant, you may need to indicate your interest in a preliminary application followed by the actual grant proposal. You may also need the approval of your principal or school board for a large grant. When possible, include letters of support to show that your school is behind your idea.

Getting Started

Explore some of the "tips articles" below for background information on grant writing.

Grant writing is like the chicken and egg dilemma. Do you start with a great project idea and no funding source, or begin by identifying a possible funding source then develop a project to match? Debate the advantages and disadvantages of each perspective with yourself. You may end up doing both. Brainstorm a list of great ideas and look for funding sources to match. At the same time, examine all possible funding sources and see if one of your ideas could be modified to fit their needs.

Identifying the Need and Your Solution: Goal Setting

Read the article "What Award Winning Proposals Have in Common".

Writing a grant takes lots of time and effort. Why do you want to write a grant? Money, right? Beyond this obvious goal must be a concrete project that will have a positive impact on the teachers and children involved. Your goal should be learner-centered. Rather than focusing on what the teachers will do, discuss consider how the project will ultimately impact the learning environment.

Start with a specific, serious need and identify a realistic solution. Then, develop a goal for your project. The need, solution, goal, project, and assessment must all match.

Brainstorm themes, possible projects, and technology needs. Your grant must stand out to be funded. Choose a topic or theme that is unique to your school or area. What could you and your students do that no one has done before or how could you do something in a new way? Involve your students. They could design a logo or come up with a catch phrase for the project. Try an abbreviation or acronym that would draw attention to your project.

Be sure your idea is linked to your need and that you can justify the approach you're using. Although it might be a practical approach, it should be connected to proven strategies and solid research.

Develop a concept map for a large-scale project. Break the project down into components that could be funded with various sources. For example, the technology for the project could come from one source, the staff development from another, and supplemental reading materials from a third funding agent.

Don't try to write your grant in isolation. Get your administration, parents, and community involved.

Writing a Grant Proposal

Once you've selected a funding source, you're ready to begin writing.

It's difficult to provide guidelines for grant writing. Much will depend on the purpose of the grant, length of the proposal, funding source, and particular project. In a small, short-term grant, be very specific about staff development, hardware and software needs. The readers need to know exactly what you have planned and how many students will be involved. In a larger-plan you may not have room for this type of detail. Some funding sources are most interested in a particular aspect of the grant. For example, if the grant is sponsored by a software developer, they might be most interested in how their product will be incorporated into the curriculum. Another funder might be interested in school-community connections, so you must design your grant with that focus.

Although it's essential that you follow the guidelines for writing the grant, at the same time you must guide readers through a vision of your project. Your unique, innovative idea must be clear to readers. Try incorporating some of the following specific techniques in your writing:

Develop a scenario. A project is easier to understand if it's put in a context. For example, you could write a paragraph highlighting "the day in the life of a teacher or student" who is participating in the grant. You could describe the atmosphere of your proposed classroom. You could describe a discussion between a child and a parent or two children who are working on the computer together. Consider using examples. Try to bring your project alive for the reader, but don't overdo it. You keep to keep the descriptions concise.

Trace a student or staff member. Show how you see your students and/or staff members evolving. How will they change? What impact will the technology have on their work and play?

Provide testimonials. Ask students to write about the importance of technology. For example, you would have parents write about why they thing technology is important at their school. Use excerpts and quotes in your project to demonstrate their support.

Incorporate student work. If possible get students involved in the grant writing process. Have a slogan writing contest or ask a class to design a logo. Show that you are child-centered. Incorporate a student picture on the cover of the grant application or get students to write the cover letter. These small things will tug at the heart of some grant reviewers.

Enhance with examples. Be sure that readers have a clear understanding of what will happen in the grant. For example, although you may have many projects in mind, pick a few concrete examples to share with readers. Be as specific as possible using as few words as possible.

Build on existing projects and expertise. Granter readers like to see a history of success. Be sure to show that you have a good program going already, but that you need this grant to make it even better. Build on past grants or funding sources as examples. Talk about your dedicated staff and supportive administration. This will reassure readers that their money will be well-spent. It's like getting your first job. You can't get a job without experience, but without experience you can't get a job. Show them that you've had positive experiences even if you haven't had a grant before.

When writing a grant, you often need background information that will support your proposal. You may need to convince the grant committee that there is a need for your proposed activity or that technology makes a difference. You might incorporate research results that demonstrate the impact of technology and show the need for additional research. What's developmentally appropriate for fourth graders? What concepts are taught in high school biology? What are the best teaching methods in the area of reading?

Your writing style is important as you sit down at the computer and begin to write. Don't use long decorative sentences, instead write short, concise statements that use the least words to say exactly what you need to say. Don't ramble, get to the point. When possible, use lists and bullets. For example, if you need to write objectives, put them in a list. Use a list of dates for your timeline rather than a paragraph format.

Finally, follow the guidelines. If your grant allows five pages and you've only used four, increase the font size to make it more readable. Most granter reviewer appreciate a 13 point font with wide margins for notes over a tiny 10 point font with text scrunched on the page.

Submitting Your Grant

Before submitting your proposal, you'll want to get some feedback. Try it out of a variety of people with different backgrounds. Also double check that you've included everything. Some proposals are submitted on paper and others online. Be sure to check the requirements. Email the administrator of the grant if you have questions about procedures.

Assessing the Process

Review the grant writing process. Now that you've written a grant proposal, do a little reflecting on the process. Create a Top Ten list of things to remember when writing a grant.

Identifying Funding Sources

There are many different types of funding sources. Identify the type of resource that is best for your goal.

 

Write a Grant

Identify a need, topic, project, and grant source. Write a grant.


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