Category Archives: free grant database

Raising Quick Money

money on a clothes line

Anyone who needs and wants grant money for a good academic cause can find it.  How badly do you want the grant money and are you willing to put forth the effort to get it?

A special challenge arises if you need grant money quickly.  What if you came back to school and found that budget cuts have made it impossible for you to be as successful as you have been in the past? Or you know you need curriculum support materials that simply weren’t budgeted for.  What if you have a class full of students many of whom simply will not be able to move on to the next grade or pass exams unless you have extra help?

This is not the time to look for big grants that may take thirty days or more to write, even longer to be read and evaluated by a foundation. Next thing you know it’s next semester before you have any hope of receiving funds.  Large grant initiatives are the answer to long-term funding problems, but it’s not going to help you if you need it now! Don’t berate yourself, all the planning in the world cannot possibly help you predict all emerging needs in your school.

Start with the Discount School Supply® free grant database.  Start looking for foundation or corporate grants that have a deadline coming up soon or even better, no deadline at all.  These grants generally have short applications, many of which can be completed online. The foundation board often meets and decides who gets the money shortly after the deadline is reached.  If your timing is right, you might have grant money in your school account within 45-60 days.  This means you can begin impacting your problem areas before the end of the fall semester. This is especially true if you have an existing relationship with a foundation. Never assume a private foundation will only give you money once. The key is to establish a real working relationship with the people in the foundation who are responsible for making decisions. They’ll come back time and again if you’re crafty. Invite them in for a tour if you have received funds from them, they love to see how their support is impacting student learning.

When you are looking for a grant, you need to make sure you have a very clearly defined problem.  Next, you need to search the DSS grant database until you find a grant provider that matches your problem.  In fact, you should make absolutely sure that:

1) your problem matches the grant criteria;

2) you fully qualify for the grant (eligibility for public schools for instance);

3) the grant has a deadline within the next 45 days, or no deadline at all.

If you have a problem that can only be addressed by additional help as well as money, you might seek a partnership with a local business. Let them know that their money is important, but you also need volunteers to come during or after school to work with students who are behind.  Sometimes these volunteers are more essential than the money, so if you are going to go after a business partner to help you, make sure they employ the type of person who can most easily make a transition into the role of tutor or classroom helper. It’s all about relationships.

Hopefully, you are the kind of person who goes into solution mode when you see a problem that arises for which there is no plan. No time for panic. Other habits to get into are things like book fairs, product box top programs (General Mills) where students save and bring in the box tops that are then mailed in to a processing center for quick cash turnaround. With the right rah-rah attitude and a big glass jar in the school lobby, you’d be surprised how much you can raise. A school store that builds in a little profit for the sale of books, candy, etc. is a great way to teach kids about economics and can raise quite a bit of cash. Candy sales at holiday time, and other fund raising events can provide your school with “mad money” so you’ll have it when you need it.

Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to take the lead.  Start looking for those grants and partnerships today.

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Get All the Grant Money You Need

I wish there were secrets for getting grant money for your school.  If there were, I’d be more than happy to share them with you in this blog.  But there are no secrets to getting grant money. You can get your share of grants provided you follow the proper steps consistently. Most of the schools that don’t win grant money either don’t apply for grants or do so in a haphazard way. Below are seven critical steps that I believe you need to follow and apply in order to secure grant money for your school. I will break down each of these steps in more detail in future blogs, but please don’t wait for those blogs to start using this information.  You should be applying for grants right now for summer school and the fall semester.

1. Understand in detail the problems your school faces. If you want to secure grant money for your school, the first step is to understand in detail the problems your school faces. To understand the problems and their severity, you must consistently perform needs assessments. A good needs assessment will measure the difference between what you expect to happen in your classroom, school, or district and what actually happens. The wider the gap between expectations and actual outcomes, the larger the problem you have.

2. Develop a solution that has the greatest chance of solving the problem. Once you have identified your greatest problem, the second step toward obtaining grant money is to develop the solution that has the greatest chance of solving your problem. That solution will entail details about personnel, programs, time, and materials that will be needed to accomplish your goal. For example: What will it take to get your students reading on grade level rather than 1.5 years behind the national average? You must develop a plan and have every expectation that it will work. As a part of the plan development process, you must develop a reasonable budget that details what it will cost to implement your plan.

3. Begin looking for grant money to pay for your program. Assuming that you do not have the money in your regular budget to finance your plan, step three is to begin looking for grant money to pay for your program. Since your time writing grants is more valuable than your time looking for them, I strongly recommend that you use a comprehensive school-grant database to match your needs with a grant from the federal government, your state government, a corporation, or a foundation. It is vitally important that you match your needs as closely as possible with a granting entity that uses its grant money to help schools solve the type of problem you are experiencing.  Obviously, you should use the free Discount School Supply® school grant database first.

4. Verify that your school is eligible for the grants you will seek. The match between your needs and the granting agency’s requirements is so important that it leads directly to step number four: always call the person listed as the contact for the grant(s) you seek and verify that your school is eligible for that grant (those grants). If you are not eligible, or you sense a negative response from the contact person, you should immediately go back to step three and start the matching process again. If you are going to be successful in getting grant money, you must have good, verified matches.

5. Obtain the grant application and read it carefully. Step five involves gathering information. Once you know you have a match between your needs and a grantor, you should obtain a copy of the grant application, read it carefully, and gather all the statistics and other information you will need about your school and your needs in order to complete the grant application.

6. Complete the application. Write clearly and concisely. Follow all directions to the letter, including the font style and type size that you use to prepare the application. Complete every section of the application. To be sure you do a quality job, complete each section as if it were the only section on the application. You will be competing for this money with other schools. A quality application is essential.

7. Get your application in the mail a week before the deadline. The final step is to complete your application and get it in the mail at least one week before the deadline. Overnight delivery does not always mean your package will be delivered the next day. If your package is late, you may be able to reclaim the postage you paid; but if you’ve missed the grant deadline, the granting entity will not consider your application.

That’s it. Follow those seven steps, and you will get more than your share of grant money. For more detail on these steps, watch the next seven blogs to make this seven-step process work even better for you.

Developing a Plan to Fix Your Problem

If you are looking for grant money to fix a problem in your school, I hope you have developed a checklist to follow. You should:  1) define the problem you need to address, 2) develop a plan that has a good chance of fixing the problem, 3) use a grant database to find grantors who are interested in helping you fix that type of problem, 4) complete a grant application in a way that lays out the problem you have, the plan to fix it, and a budget to show how the grant money will enable you to put your plan in place.

Today, I want to focus on the plan you develop to fix your problem.  My first suggestion is not to get too creative. There’s little chance that the problem your school is facing has not been encountered hundreds of times before.  Sorry, but most problems are just not that unique. Chances are also that someone who has faced this problem before has developed a very good solution for fixing the problem. Why reinvent the wheel if you can find something that’s already working somewhere else?

I will caution you, however, to find a school that is similar to your own when you look for possible solutions. It’s not the same when one school has 80% of their students who are economically disadvantaged and another school has 20%. They might have both overcome a reading problem similar to the one you have, but the students and their individual problems might be vastly different.  Look for a school that has a similar student population and similar resources if at all possible.

You should be able to find a plan that will work for you by attending appropriate conferences, getting in touch with your local education service center, through large education sites on the Internet, or even Google if you do your research properly.  And yes, once you find a good program you might even have to make a few adjustments to make it fit your school, but be very careful.  If you’re not sure exactly what made the program successful in another school, you might make a change that will also change the results you get in your own school.

You will also probably be able to find commercial products that can help you solve your problem.  While some people hate it and some people love it, I can tell you that Accelerated Reader from Renaissance Learning helped to turn our entire middle school around. But I can also tell you that we had proper training and ran the program exactly as it was recommended. Far too often when schools depend on a commercial product, they do little training and typically run the program the way they think is best rather than the recommended way. If you do that, I will tell you that it won’t work at least 90% of the time and both your effort and your grant money will be wasted.

The key is to find a program that works with your type of population. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a program developed by a teacher or administrator or one that another school found in a catalog.  It should have a proven track record with schools similar to yours, and it should be implemented just as the developers recommend.  If you find that type of program, if you implement that type of program, you are very likely to get similar results.  You will have solved your problem, and the grant money you used will be money well spent.

One of the key ingredients of any grant application is the plan you develop to fix your problem. Make sure you develop a plan that has the very best chance of success and give details how it has worked before in other schools similar to yours. When you do that, you greatly increase your chances of winning grant money.

Can You Spare a Few Hours?

I could tell you that you should write a short grant during the holiday break. You’ll probably have a little extra time during the ten days to two weeks that you’re on vacation from school. A lot of grant deadlines are listed for December 31st, so that makes it a good time to write a grant and get it in just under the wire. Also, the competition will be limited, because, let’s face it, how many people will actually get around to applying for a grant during the holiday break?  

Having said all that, I’m not going to recommend that you apply for a grant during your break because you probably wouldn’t do it anyway. I am going to suggest that you take a few hours during your vacation time and do some grant research.

The first research I would do is to examine the mid-term assessments you will likely be administering before the holidays. These assessments could be for the district, a single campus, or even a classroom, but they likely contain information that will help you get grant money for the spring semester or summer school.

Basically, you want to identify two types of programs from your assessments. You want to know the programs you have in place that are not as productive as they should be. You set goals for each program at the beginning of the year. The first thing you are looking for are programs where the students simply are not progressing as they should. They won’t reach their goals by the end of the year. You will need to make changes to those programs early in the spring semester, and you may not have the money to make those changes. If you don’t make changes, you are unlikely to reach your goals. If you make the right changes and get grant money to help you, you just might be able to turn the program around and still meet your goals.

You should also be studying your assessments for another type of program: one that is working remarkably well. If you just keep doing what you’re doing, your students will far surpass the goals you set. But what would happen if you were able to expand that program to other students, other grade levels, or other buildings? Chances are, they would get the same extraordinary results. You can use your assessment data to write a grant to expand your services to those larger groups. This type of assessment data can be very persuasive to grantors if you use it properly and make a thorough analysis of why you are being so successful.

The other research I would do during the holiday break revolves around school grant databases. As you probably know, I am a strong proponent of using grant databases. They save an unbelievable amount of time and effort. Discount School Supply® provides you with an excellent free grant database where you can find grants listed under a wide variety of topics. You need to take a few hours and do a comprehensive search using that database just to see what all is available to you.

You would probably be amazed at the number of grants available, the amount of money available, and how simple some grant applications are to complete. If you are going after grant money for a district, campus, or classroom, knowing the content of the Discount School Supply® database can be invaluable to you. It’s certainly worth a few hours of your time on the Internet to explore everything that’s available.

No, I’m not asking you to spend all your holiday vacation working on one grant application after another. Just do some research so you’re ready to start filling out grant applications when you go back to school. Study those mid-year assessments to find those programs which are failing miserably. Then find the programs that are working remarkably well. Repair the failing programs and expand the ones that are working. And finally, do some research using the Discount School Supply® grant database. It’s free and it’s a perfect resource for finding the grants you need.

What If You Need Big Money for a Grant Project?

Last time I discussed what to do if you needed grant money quickly. Basically, when you need grant money quickly you look for foundation grants with short deadline dates or into your community to find a business partner to fund your needs.

But what if you need big money for a project? You might need $50,000, $100,000, $500,000 or even more. While there are a few foundations out there that give money if those ranges, most of the big grant money comes in the form of federal or state grants. It is true that quite a bit of money has been pulled from these grant programs because of the bad economy, especially in certain parts of the country, but these are still your best sources if you’re looking for big grant money.

You probably already know that any time you deal with the federal government or a state government, things tend to be complicated. The same is true when you apply for a federal or state grant. For one thing, the application is generally longer and more complex than those applications used by foundations or corporations who give grants. I’ve seen federal applications that go into the hundreds of pages.

Don’t let me scare you away, though. Many of the pages are informational, and you don’t have to do anything but read and understand them so that you can fill out the rest of the application properly. On the other hand, you will need a very detailed budget, a detailed assessment program, and, of course, a detailed plan to remedy the problem that resulted in you applying for a state or federal grant in the first place.

Your first two steps for applying for a state or federal grant should be:

1) Define the problem that you have that requires you to seek a large amount of state or federal grant money.
2) Use free grant databases to find the state or federal grants you need.

I’d start with the free Discount School Supply® grant database.
If you can’t find what you need there, you might look at the following federal sites:
www.grants.gov
www.ed.gov
If you are looking for a state grant, you can go to your state education agency website using the following link:

www.k12schoolnetwork.com/State_Education_Websites.html

Seeking big money requires you to do more work. However, if you will read instructions carefully and follow them exactly, you should be able to apply for a state or federal grant with limited headaches. Just remember, you’re going to have to work more to get the bigger grants.

Need Some Grant Money Quickly?

Im a firm believer that anyone who needs and wants grant money for a good academic cause can find it. It just boils down to how badly you want the grant money and whether you’re willing to put forth the effort to get it.

What happens, though, if you need grant money quickly? What if you came back to school and found that budget cuts have made it impossible for you to be as successful as you have been in the past? What if you have a class full of students many of whom simply will not be able to pass on to the next grade or will not be able to pass the state test unless you have extra help from somewhere?

I can definitely tell you what not to do. Do not go looking for a state or federal grant that may take you thirty days to write in your spare time, even longer for it to be read and graded, and then next semester before you have any hope of receiving funds. That may well be the answer for a long-term funding problem, but it’s not going to help you when you need it most — now!

My advice to you is to go into the Discount School Supply free grant database and start looking for foundation or corporate grants that have a deadline coming up soon or no deadline at all. These grants generally have short applications, many of which can be completed on line, and the boards often meet and decide who gets the money shortly after the deadline is reached. If your timing is right, you might have grant money in your school account within 45-60 days. That means you can begin impacting your problem areas with time still left in the fall semester.

As always when you are looking for a grant, you need to make sure you have a very clearly defined problem. Next, you need to search the DSS grant database until you find a grant that matches your problem. In fact, you should make absolutely sure that:
1) your problem matches the grant criteria;
2) you fully qualify for the grant;
3) the grant has a deadline within the next 45 days, or no deadline at all.

 If you have a problem that can only be addressed by additional help as well as money, you might want to seek a partnership with a local business. Let them know up-front that although their money is important, you also need volunteers to come during or after school to work with students who are behind. Sometimes these volunteers are more essential than the money, so if you are going to go after a business partner to help you, make sure they employ the type of person who can most easily make a transition into the role of tutor or classroom helper.

I’ve seen the look on teachers’ and principals’ faces when they return to school in the fall and get surprises they simply weren’t expecting. They usually go into panic mode or solution mode. Hopefully, you are the kind of person who goes into solution mode.

Remember, two of the best ways to find a solution are to look for a grant that will deliver money and help to you quickly or look to find a business partner in your own community that can provide not only money but also the volunteers you might need to overcome your problems.  

School is never easy, but it’s a lot harder if you don’t have the money or the help you need. Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to take the lead. Start looking for those grants and partnerships today.

A Grant Database is Good, But…

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.