Category Archives: grant applications

3 Good Reasons to Apply for Grants Now

January is the perfect time to apply for grants. You should be back into your regular routine after the holidays. That should give you the opportunity to set aside some time for grant writing. I know it’s never easy to find the time to apply for grants, but you should make every effort to do so now because in January and early February the stars align to give you a very good opportunity to win some grant money.

For one thing, many new grants are announced at the beginning of the year. You should use the Discount School Supply® grant database and look for any new grants that have been posted recently. Some of these will be entirely new grants that have never been offered before. Others are grants that are offered annually but are not announced until January each year. Either way, you should find new grants in the database that were not there during the last few months. Take advantage of these new opportunities by applying for one or two of the grants that have just been posted.

A second good reason to apply for grants now is that you have the freshest assessment data to work with that you’ll have all year. As I’ve stated many time before, each of the programs at your school should be assessed at mid-term and at the end of the school year. You should have done your assessments at the end of December or the beginning of January. That means you have access to the best assessment data that you’re ever going to have. You’ve just finished a semester. You know exactly how much progress each student has made within each program.  Now you’re ready to sit down and write grants using that invaluable assessment data.  You may want to fix a program that’s lagging or expand a successful program. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have the assessment data that you need to apply for whatever type of grant you need.

The third reason to apply for grants right now is that you can apply for three different time periods.  You can apply for some quick grant money (probably in the form of foundation or corporate grants) for the spring semester. You can also apply for grant money for summer school which is now just around the corner. Finally, you can begin to apply for larger (probably state or federal) grants for the fall semester. Because many of these grants have much longer, more involved applications, you may want to begin writing them now. It’s never too early to start piecing together the parts of a large grant which may impact your entire school district.

Grant money is becoming vital to many campuses and districts. Hopefully your school has a plan for writing grants. The two very best times to apply for grants is during January and February and at the beginning of the school year in September and October. Since we’re already well into January, you should start applying for grants immediately.

You should never miss these opportunities to apply for the grants you need. Why? Three reasons:  many new grants are announced at this time of year, you have fresh assessment data, and you can apply for grant money for the spring semester, summer school, and the fall semester.

Don’t delay. Start using that free Discount School Supply® grant database to find the grants you need today. Start filling out those grant applications tomorrow.

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Have Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Happy New Year! The economy is not great. You probably don’t have the best budget you’ve ever had, but as an educator, the New Year affords you the opportunity to make some choices and some changes. You might want to go in a new direction. Since you are not likely to have a lot of extra money in the budget, that may mean that 2012 will be the Year of the Grant for you.

Of course, you could be a Doomsday enthusiast and firmly believe the world as we know it will end in December, 2012. If you happen to fall into that group, you may just want to enjoy yourself or start survival training. You probably believe that nothing you can do will help to avert the disaster, so you are resigned to this final act of fate.                                                                                
If you don’t belong in that small Doomsday Group, maybe you’re in the much, much larger Status Quo Group. You probably believe that nothing is going to change in your school regardless of how much effort you put forth, so it is best to just let things roll along as they are now and as they have always been. Besides, there’s no money for new programs or even enough money to significantly change the old programs that aren’t working. Nothing changed last year. Nothing will change next year. Nothing you can do now will change the current year. If that’s your thinking, then you’re as Status Quoas you can get.
The rest of you probably fall into my group: The New Year’s Resolution Group. You may have never stuck with a New Year’s resolution in the past, but you still make them because you are optimistic and believe things can change for the positive. In fact, you believe that you are an important part of your school system. Your thoughts and deeds can make your school a better place, and you are an important part of the change process.
Granted, there is probably little or no money in the budget for new programs or dramatic changes in the old programs, but that is why federal and state governments, foundations, and corporations give grant money to schools. Grant money should never be used to sustain an unsuccessful program. Grant money should be used to develop new, promising programs or to fix the ones which can be significantly improved.

New Year’s resolutions can be powerful motivators. Write them down. Share them with your fellow educators. Solicit their help in reaching your goals. Your enthusiasm is likely to be contagious and infect those around you. 

Here’s the question:  “Do you want to be a part of the small Doomsday Group, a part of the very large Status Quo Group, or a part of the medium-sized, but powerful New Year’s Resolution Group?” Be a positive, optimistic educator, if not for yourself, for every student you will touch for the remainder of this year. Make this year the year of change for your school, the Year of the Grant.

Not Applying for Grants During the Holidays?

In my last post, I discussed why this is a great time to write a grant for your school or classroom. Many grants have deadlines on or around December 31. You’ll have less competition because most people won’t be writing grants during the holiday season. You can write grants for the spring semester, summer school, or the fall semester. How much more incentive do you need?                                                                     

When I wrote that blog, I knew many of you just were not going to buy it. Sure, I laid out a brilliant argument, but let’s face it. It is the holiday season. I know of only one group that enjoys the holiday season more than students. That would be educators.

I really had to watch myself when I was in the classroom because I was more tempted to shut things down than my students. Yes, I resisted the temptation. I was a good teacher and principal right up to the time we opened the doors for early release, but I can’t tell you it wasn’t a struggle.

And the last thing I wanted to do during the holidays was to think about work—lesson plans, students, or grants. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to relax and have fun. But you know what? It worked for me. I always came back in January energized and ready to work. It’s a tough but productive period between January and spring break. You will either reach your goals for the year or fall sadly behind depending on what you do during that period.

Here’s my advice. Do what I did. If you’re not going to write a grant during the holidays, don’t do any work that is school related. Recharge those batteries. Rest and relax. Enjoy your time. Do the things that make you happy and enjoy those around you.

Teachers and other educators have the most important job in the world. We often don’t get paid that way, but you know deep down that it is true. Building relationships with students and moving them forward as brighter, more capable human beings is tremendously important work. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Sometimes it seems like you’re just holding the lid on until May or June when one group moves on and you prep for the next group in the fall.

Don’t sell yourself short. The work you do is important, and it is often exhausting. Use the holiday season to renew yourself. Come January, you crank it up again, and you need to be refreshed and ready to go. Besides, in my next blog, I’m going to be discussing New Year’s resolutions, and you can bet I will include grant writing on that list.

Not going to write a grant over the holidays? That’s okay. Those of you who do will likely be rewarded. But if you don’t, enjoy the holiday season. Rest and relax. Then come back in January breathing fire. We’ll get those important grants written then.

Happy holidays! May peace and joy abide in your heart.

Give Your School a Gift for the Holidays

It’s a tough time for teachers right now. Between Thanksgiving and the December break, it’s hard to keep students focused on anything for very long. While you may not focus all that well during this time of year either, it is an excellent time for you to concentrate on getting at least one grant application written before the first of January. This is a great time to apply for a grant, and it may be your very best chance of being awarded grant money. I’ll give you three reasons.

First, quite a few national and regional grants have a deadline between now and the end of December. You should check them out on the Discount School Supply free grant database. If you can’t find one there, you should look on The School Funding Center site. Also, several grants will be listed at the end of this blog and the one coming out in mid-December. You will surely qualify for at least one of the dozens of grants that will be listed in one of these locations.

Second, while I recommend that you apply for grants right now, few educators will do so. That means you have less competition than at other times of the year. It’s the old ant and the grasshopper story. While others are playing and making merry, you will be getting ready for your future needs. They will complain about not having resources later, but it will be you that put the work in and you that will reap the benefits from the grant you receive.

Third, you can request grant money right now that can be used in the spring, during summer school, or even next fall. My recommendation is that you apply for money that can be used in the spring semester. It’s a shame when we see that something can be done in a better way to help students more, but we don’t have the money to put our ideas in place. By applying for grants now, you should be able to put your ideas in place in the spring semester instead of having to wait for summer school or the fall semester to help your students. The sooner, the better. By fall, you won’t even have the same students.

Grant writing is never easy, but if you already know a problem you’re having, and you have a solution in mind, December is a great time to apply for a grant or two to alleviate your problem. We talked about semester assessments in the last blog. Right now is a great time to use the information you gathered to prepare your grant application. The information is fresh. The need it documented. You just to use your feedback in a high quality grant application.

I know your excuse. I don’t have any more time than anyone else. I’m tired. I’ve never written a grant before. You’re right about one thing — they are all excuses. It will be your ability to overcome these obstacles that will get you the grant in the first place. Remember, you’re applying in December because you will have less competition.

Take advantage of the season to give your students and your school an excellent holiday gift—grant money that you never pay back and that may change the lives of your students forever.

7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Apply for a Grant

It’s not easy to get motivated to fill out grant applications. I know that. I spent twenty years in public schools as a teacher and an administrator. Asking for money shouldn’t be an educator’s job. After all, we signed on to teach children, to bring light into their lives, and to build a love of learning within their hearts. Unfortunately as the years roll by, you may find yourself discouraged, underpaid, and pulling money out of your own pocket to fund the basic needs in your classroom or building.

Try not to be discouraged. I believe teachers are still the most influential people on the planet. I have many conversations with past students, and it still amazes me how much they remember about my class and about me. My wife retired three years ago after teaching first grade for thirty-four years. She still gets more hugs and smiles than the law allows, often from large men a foot taller than she is. They love her. She taught them to love school. She taught them to read.

While teaching is a tremendous vocation, it can still get discouraging when money is not available from your district to fund the activities and projects you know your students need. You need to motivate yourself to write grants to supplement the money in your budget. Here are seven ways to get motivated to write those grants:

1) Write a grant for a very special project that you have personally always wanted to do but could not get the district to fund. This is very motivational because it’s all about you and something you want personally.

2) Write down new skills that your students will be able to develop by using grant money to enhance your budget. You may need to buy special materials or get help in your classroom to make sure students develop these new skills. Think about how these new skills could change your students’ lives.

3) Apply for a grant with a partner. It’s always easier to do a chore when you have some help. You should share the burden of writing the grant and the joy of what you both accomplish with the grant money.

4) Write a grant that will allow you and your students to have a very special experience. You might go on a very unusual field trip, bring in a motivational celebrity to your school, or build something together that your students will never forget.

5) Write a grant to keep from spending money out of your pocket. Then, buy yourself a gift with the money you didn’t have to use for school supplies.

6) Write a grant centered around the bottom few students you’ve had the most trouble reaching. This might be a program to get help from parent volunteers, an after-school tutoring program, or a program to buy computers and software that might help you reach these difficult students.

7) Let others know you intend to apply for a grant. Just like a New Year’s resolution, you’re more likely to complete your grant application if others know you’ve made a commitment to apply for a grant.

Grants shouldn’t really be about the money you’re going to receive. They should be about student achievement and the positive impact that a grant will have on your students. However, sometimes we need a little extra motivation to complete those applications. Maybe one of the above seven motivators will be just what you need to start completing a grant application this week. Don’t delay. Apply for that money you need and stop getting it out of your own pocket.

Step 6: Completing Your Grant Application the Right Way

I started a seven-step series of blog posts a couple of months ago giving exact details of how to find grant money and write winning grant proposals. I’ve made a couple of posts since step five, but I’m now ready to finish the series. You can find the related posts listed in the sidebar if you wish to review the first five steps.

Once you’ve completed the first five steps in the grant process, you are ready to start filling out the grant application. You have already done a tremendous amount of work. You’ve identified a problem in your school that needs correcting, developed a solution, found a grant that fits your situation, confirmed that you are eligible for that grant, and gathered the application and all the data you will need to complete your grant application.

Completing an application is not all that difficult if you’ve done your homework — but it’s almost impossible if you haven’t. Your primary concern as you begin the application process is to carefully follow all instructions. You don’t want to be disqualified for something as simple as using the wrong type font or font size in your application. And, yes, some grantors are that particular.

Be sure to include four major components in any application regardless of how the application is laid out.

· Describe the problem you have at your school with sufficient statistics to prove that you truly have a problem.

· Give a detailed summary of your solution to this problem and give statistics or other information to show why you believe your solution will produce positive results.

· Include an evaluation component to show how you will track progress throughout the program and exactly how you will determine the gains that were made at the end of the program.

· Include a budget that shows where every dollar of the requested grant money will be spent.

Regardless of the way an application is organized, be sure you carefully complete every section. Some applications may have sections that don’t seem to apply to your situation. You have to remember, however, that competitive grants are generally scored on a point system. Every section of the application is worth a certain number of points. If you don’t complete a section, you get no points for that part of the application. Many applications are so competitive that a score of “zero” on one section will likely eliminate you from the competition.

As you complete the application, you might come to a section that asks you to describe the community involvement aspect of your plan. But what if you hadn’t planned on having a community involvement component? You must realize that if community involvement was not important to the grantor, it would not be a part of the application. If the section is there, it behooves you to go back to the solution you’ve developed and add a community involvement component. If you leave that section blank, you are not likely to be among the final competitors for the grant money.

Each section of a grant application is so important that you need to complete it as if it were the only section you were submitting. Why? Because you need to earn every point possible to stay competitive in your hunt for grant money.

As you complete your application, avoid using “cut and paste” information provided by vendors. Yes, they have great writers who prepare those descriptions, but you are doomed if the same descriptions show up on several applications for the same grant. The scorers see it as evidence that you are relying on a canned solution to your problem rather than personalizing your solution to fit your school’s needs. Similarly, you need to be careful about centering your whole grant request around a single commercial product. Grant money is typically awarded to those schools that seek money to establish well-rounded programs with multiple components — not to schools that just want money to buy a single product.

Also, be sure you complete the application with language that is clear and concise. Don’t try to sound fancy or more educated than you are. You’re not trying to convince the grant readers how smart you are. You are trying to show them that you understand the problems at your school, and that you’ve come up with what you believe to be the right solution. To begin to put that solution into place, you need their grant money. It’s also always a good idea to let the grant readers know how much district money and other resources will be applied to the problem. Again, be straightforward, clear, and concise.

Completing a grant application is not all that difficult if you’ve done the necessary preliminary work. It’s exciting to know that you are in competition with other grant writers to get money for your school. If you closely follow the directions that accompany the application, lay out your problem clearly, describe your solution in detail, include an effective evaluation component, and develop a budget that is realistic and all-inclusive, then you will win grant money most of the time.

You will also get better with practice. As soon as you finish one application, start looking for your next grant. If you follow the steps that I’ve laid out over the past few posts, when it comes time to sit at your desk to complete a grant application, you’ll find that applying for most grants is really not that difficult.

Step 5: Obtaining the Grant Application and Gathering Information

Over the past several weeks I have shared steps one through four to follow as you attempt to secure grant money for your school. Those first four steps include: 1. Understanding the hurdle(s)/issue(s) your school faces. 2. Developing a solution to address those issues. 3. Finding all possible grants to fund your solution. 4. Matching your needs with likely grant sources. If you missed the information on any of those four steps, you can access past blogs on the right-hand side of this page.

Step five is obtaining the actual grant applications for your top one or two grant matches and gathering all the information you need to complete those applications.

First and foremost, you need to understand a grantor’s application process and obtain an application form far enough in advance of the deadline so you are not rushed when it comes time to fill it out. If you plan ahead, you are much more likely to submit a competitive grant application.

You should be aware that different organizations use different types of grant applications. Quite a few foundations require no more than a letter that details your school’s problem, your planned solution, and a budget that details the money you need. That letter takes the place of a formal application. In other cases, some groups of foundations use common grant applications. But most foundations, states, and federal agencies use unique, detailed applications for each grant they sponsor. Grant seekers must obtain the specific application(s) required to apply for each grant.

The type of application required for each grant you seek is typically listed on the grantor’s website. In many cases, you will find, complete, and submit your application without ever leaving the grantor’s site. More often, however, grantors provide applications you can download to your computer and print out at your convenience.

Finally, some grantors require you to submit a request for an application in writing. If the grantor has a website, an email usually meets this requirement, and the application will be mailed or emailed to you. If the grantor does not have a website, both the request for an application and the return of the application will be accomplished using regular mail.

It’s important to know all the details of the application process up front so you can plan your time well and not be rushed.

Once you obtain the application, read it thoroughly — several times. Concentrate on the different kinds of information you will need in order to complete the application. Although quite a bit of the application will require you to supply information in narrative form, you will likely need statistics from several sources to verify your need for help. You will also have to develop a budget for your project.

Before you actually begin completing an application, gather all the reference materials and statistical information you will likely need and find a quiet place to work. Make time so you can complete the application without interruption. You don’t want to interrupt your writing every 15 minutes to look for some vital piece of information that you should have at your fingertips. Your writing should flow, and it will only do so if you’ve gathered all the tools and information before you sit down to write.

You will be two steps ahead of your competition if you have carefully read the application and gathered all the materials you will need to complete it without interruption. Good planning is a vital part of the grant application process.