A free school grant database like the one Discount School Supply® provides is a tremendous asset, but you have to have a good program that you are looking to fund to make it useful. Many educators want to go out and find money when they don’t have a clear purpose in mind for using that money. That’s not practical, and they rarely find grant money that way.
You need a program in mind that will either improve something you’re already doing at school or that will address a problem that has arisen at your school. If you have a reading problem at your school, and you have a good reading program which is simply underfunded, you might find a grant that will provide you with the additional funding. Maybe you have an after-school tutoring program that is working well, but you don’t have the money to fund enough tutors for all the students that need tutors. A grant could make a good program much better by allowing you to hire all the tutors you need.
On the other hand, you may have a reading problem and no program in place that is likely to fix that problem. Maybe you need an after-school reading tutorial program that will allow tutors to work with individual students or small groups. Such a program might be an excellent candidate for grant funding if established and run in the proper way.
You need to have everything you’re going to do and all the people and supplies you will need down on paper in a working model before you apply for grant money. The grantors are going to want to be able to visualize your program and how it will work before they fund it. If you can’t visualize the program yourself well enough to put it down on paper, don’t expect grantors to lay out the money you need to start or improve your program.
A good way to get a grasp on your overall program is to do a five-part planning document:
1) Define the problem you have using as many statistics as possible to make the problem clear and concrete.
2) Describe the comprehensive program you want to establish that has an excellent chance of positively impacting your problem.
3) Give details of the growth that is likely to occur as a result of your program.
4) Give details of how you will measure that growth (pre-, post-tests, state tests, nationally-normed tests, etc.)
5) Make a detailed list of exactly what you will need in terms of people, equipment, and supplies in order to make the program successful. Be sure to list what your district or campus is supplying and any other grant money that you may be using.
When a grantor sees that you’ve done this level of planning, you will have an excellent chance of receiving grant money if you use the grant database to make good matches for your program. Find all the grants that you might qualify for and then narrow your list down to the two or three that most closely match your needs.
If you’ve done your part in the planning stages of your program, and you get good matches from the grant database, you are very likely to win the grant money you are seeking. It’s not magic. It’s just good planning and hard work.