Category Archives: How to find grants

Am I Spinning My Wheels?

money backpack briefcase

After you have a few grant applications under your belt, and you still don’t have a grant in hand, it’s easy to become discouraged. Be brave, there are hundreds (probably thousands) of grant opportunities out there just waiting for the right program idea to attract and woo grant makers. I hear teachers ask, “What am I doing wrong?” My response is always, “You’re not doing anything wrong, just excercise patience and persistence.” There are some key tips to improving your chances of success, but mostly it’s believing in your school, your programs and your idea that will bring home the bacon. Grant writing is also about building relationships. When you identify a potential grantor, don’t be shy, get to know the people in the organization.

The two main types of competitive grants that we are interested in:

1)    Foundation grants

2)    Corporate grants

These are the grant opportunities you will find in the Grants Database on the Discount School Supply® website.

“Competitive” means that you have an equal opportunity to secure the funds available from the grantor, assuming you meet eligibility requirements, and you have a program that meets the grantor’s agenda. Corporations and foundations set up their funding arms to solve problems they feel are important in their communities. Get to know what these issues are, the Grants Database provides links to the organization’s website, you will find plenty of information there for learning what they have set out to accomplish with their charity.

Most of the thousands of foundations that give grant money to schools will continue to do so year after year. They are required to give a certain amount of grant money each year in order to keep their tax-exempt status. While it is true that some foundations may give less money than they have in the past, due to economic downturns, they will still be sponsoring grants. Good news is, as we approach fall of 2013, corporate profits are up, a piece of those profits must go out to the community. Unfortunately, foundations do not typically advertise their grant programs. You have to search for opportunities in a grant database or find them on the Internet. That’s where the Grants Database comes in—it will become a valuable tool as you move forward to snag those dollars.

Schools that write good, strong, competitive grant proposals well before the deadline will get their share. And schools that consistently and persistently apply for grants year after year, will reap benefits. Don’t get discouraged, you can make sure your school gets its share of available grants.

  • Keep your program ideas aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Be data driven
  • Use your test scores to illustrate your needs.

For instance, if you need a new reading program, include graphs and charts about reading scores. Much of this data can be found right in your own district office, or your state education department will no doubt supply the information you need on their websites.  Funding for supplies can often be found as an “in-kind” donation. If you have a technology company in your town, they might step up and give your school some new computers. Or if you already have a grant for an after school program, approach another foundation for a “matching grant”. This foundation’s job will be to provide that last piece of support you need to make your program a success. Make sure their contribution is not treated like an “extra”; the funder needs the acclaim and advertising that comes with any community gift.

With persistence and patience, the brass ring will get closer all the time!

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The 4th Step: Finding Matching Grants

If you want to secure grant money for your school, the first step is to understand in detail the main issues your school faces. The second step is to develop a solution that has the greatest likelihood of solving one of those problems. The third step is to find all possible grants that might fund your solution. And the fourth step — the subject of this post — is to narrow down the list of grants to those whose criteria match your needs and then call a contact person to verify that match.

Over the course of a year, hundreds of grants will become available to your school. The tricky part, however, is finding among all those grants the few that might fund your plan and support your goals. That’s why it is so important to employ a comprehensive grant database.  A grant database allows you to search quickly and easily for grants that match your needs. Yes, you could use your favorite Internet search engine to locate grants, but you will need to wade through thousands of search results — many of which won’t apply to your type of school, won’t match up with your specific needs, or have deadlines that have already passed. A good grant database allows you to tailor your searches and find likely matches in minutes rather than hours, days, or weeks.

Even when you use a good grant database, you still have additional work to do. In just a few minutes, a database can provide 30 reading grants for private schools in your state or 50 math grants for public schools. Once you’ve narrowed down and identified those grants, then your real work begins: you must search through those grants to find the ones for which you qualify. You will be able to eliminate some that don’t tie in with your goals. You will eliminate others for which you might not qualify because your school doesn’t meet one or more of the grant’s criteria.

TWO INVALUABLE RESOURCES

Fortunately, good databases provide two essential resources to support your grant research.

The first resource is a live link to the grant’s website. Use that link to find every bit of information you can about the grantor and the specific grant. Typically, the website will list more grant restrictions than a short database entry can list. If you find anything that clearly disqualifies your school from receiving a particular grant, simply go on to the next grant on your list. Almost anything you would want to know about grantors or the grants they offer can be found on their websites. Those websites are invaluable tools that will help you determine if you and that grant/grantor are a good match.

The second resource is a phone number or email address so you can communicate directly with the grant’s contact person. Once you are quite sure that a grant matches the needs of your school, call or email the contact person. (I prefer calling that person myself.) I never start completing a grant application without first getting in touch with the contact. While that contact person cannot tell you that you will get the grant money you seek, he or she can certainly confirm that you are eligible to apply. You might also pick up from the person’s voice a tone that is either encouraging or discouraging. If that tone is particularly negative, I would recommend moving on to the next grant on your list. I would definitely make this call — even if it is hard for you to do — because it can save you hours and hours of needless work.

If you don’t make use of those two resources, you are wasting valuable time. Remember, check out any website for which you are given a link and call or email the contact person to make absolutely sure you qualify for a grant.

The Third Step: Finding Possible Grants

If you want to secure grant money for your school, the first step is to understand in detail the main problems/needs your school faces. The second step — the subject of the last blog — is to develop a solution that has the greatest chance to solve that problem. And the third step is to locate all possible grants that might help fund your solution.

Grants available to schools fall into three basic categories: federal grants, state grants, and foundation or corporate grants. Federal and state grants are generally larger, and their applications are longer and more difficult to complete. Foundation and corporate grants typically yield schools less money, but their applications are less complex. That means you can usually fill out several foundation applications in the time it takes to complete one federal or state application.

Many educators attempt to locate grants on the Internet by using search engines or by subscribing to grant newsletters. Those methods tend to be inefficient and end up costing both time and money. The best way to locate potential grants is to use a grant database. The more comprehensive and up-to-date the database, the better it will serve your needs.

Your very best choice for using a grant database is the free one offered by Discount School Supply®.  It is large, free, and fairly comprehensive.  By far the most comprehensive grant database available to educators is the School Funding Center Grant Database. It contains virtually all federal, state, foundation, and corporate grants available to schools in the United States. Old grants are removed and new grants are posted on a daily basis. The one drawback to using this database is the cost — $397.00 per year. While relatively expensive, it still saves educators both time and money because of its comprehensive nature. First, use the free database provided by Discount School Supply®.  If you need even more grant information, go the database provided by The School Funding Center.

If you are looking specifically for federal grants, another good database to use is ED.gov Grants. This resource comes directly from the federal government, and it is free. It lists every federal education grant available to schools in the United States. It does not list state, foundation, or corporate grants. If you use this grant resource, you will still want to track down discretionary grants for schools.

If you are specifically looking for state grants, your best bet is to go to your state education agency’s website. Some of those sites include good grant databases that will help you locate current state grants. Others are not so good — or worse than that — and will take a little more work on your part. Go to ED.gov’s Education Resource Organizations Directory page to find your state education agency’s website. If your state’s site does not have “grants” or “funding” listed in its menu bar, type “grants” into the search box on the site to see if you can find listings that way.

If you are specifically looking for foundation grants, your best bet is to go to the Foundation Center. This organization lists thousands and thousands of foundations in its database. Many of those foundations offer grants to schools. The database is good for finding foundation grants, but the subscription cost ranges from $595.00 – $995.00 per year depending on the number of foundations you want listed in your searches. The more comprehensive the database you wish to search, the more your subscription will cost.

While you can find grant listings in many places, if you want to find all of the grants available to you quickly and easily, you will want to use one or more of the grant databases listed above. Remember, grant writers should use their time to write grants, not look for them. Save both time and money by using a good, established school grant database to locate the funding solutions you need in order to improve student achievement.

Check it Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: It’s All About The Fruit Program

Funded by: National Gardening Association and Jamba Juice

Description: The National Gardening Association is accepting applications from U.S. schools for Jamba Juice “It’s All About the Fruit” grants, which will provide selected schools with fruit trees to create engaging nutrition and gardening experiences. The grant is open to schools and community garden programs in the United States with at least fifteen children between the ages of 3 and 18. Applications will be evaluated based on plans to promote nutrition education, ideas for incorporating fruit tree activities into the curriculum, and the ability to sustain the program over multiple years. Twenty recipients will be selected to receive fruit trees valued at $500. Trees will be selected based on recommended varieties for each area.

Program Areas: Health/PE, Science/Environment

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter Schools

Proposal Deadline: 11/29/10

Average Amount: $500.00

Website: http://www.kidsgardening.org/grants/jamba.asp

Availability: All States

Reading in Your School — How Important Is It?

I have to admit it. After spending 37 years teaching school, providing leadership as a principal, training teachers, and helping schools find the grant money they need, I’ve developed a few hot buttons. I don’t just care about these issues. I am passionate about them.

I firmly believe every child should be taught to read well, that students should be taught to give back to their school and community, that every program worth having should be assessed annually for its effectiveness, and that every principal should be well-trained and provide effective leadership – or find another job.

When I started teaching in 1973, I was 20 years old. I taught social studies in a middle school. Correction. I tried to teach social studies in middle school. The average reading level of our students was two grades below the national average. The textbook I was given to use was approximately one year above an 8th-grade level. That left a 3-year gap between my students’ reading abilities and the level of the text.

In 1974, I began teaching Title I reading. I still believe reading is the most important skill we teach and that reading instruction and practice should continue throughout middle and high school. So much reading is involved in science, social studies, math, geography, health, psychology, and almost every other subject we choose to teach, reading should be a prominent subject in every school.

Granting agencies must agree with me. More grant money is available to schools to improve reading programs than any other single category. That’s right. More grant money is available to help you to improve your students’ reading skills than anything else. Not only is the dollar amount more, but there are more grants available from more sources for reading than any other category.

Reading money is needed in kindergarten and first grade to make sure every child gets a solid foundation in reading. Grant money needs to be spent in most schools to provide programs that will keep all students at an appropriate reading level as they progress from primary school all the way through high school.

As we get into this new school year, ask yourself this question: “Should our school be applying for grant money to improve the reading levels of the students in our school?” The Discount School Supply free grant database lists hundreds of reading grants for both public and private schools. Take advantage of that free resource. Find the grant money you need to make your reading programs absolutely the best you can make them.

Will Your School Need Grants This Year?

The faltering economy will likely make it another tough year for schools financially. Home values throughout most of the nation are still far down from where they once were. With property values down, less taxes will be collected. Some property owners will not be able to pay their property taxes because they haven’t even been able to make their house payments.

Add to the property value problems the fact that cities and states aren’t collecting as much sales tax or any other tax from businesses and corporations because of the slowdown in the economy. As a result many schools will collect even less money than they did last year while prices for fuel and many supplies stay relatively high.

The question is not whether you should write grants for your school this year. The question is can you write and receive enough grants to offset the shortfall that is almost surely coming. What can you do about it?

I suggest you do three things:

First, if you are not already using the free Discount School Supply grant database, you need to begin using it today. The database will allow you to spend a maximum of your time filling out grant applications and a minimum of your time actually looking for grants that are a fit for your school.

Second, recruit and train several people to write grants at your school. You need to be working on a grant application at all times–in fact, several of them. A person cannot write his/her second grant until he/she writes the first one. Get other people involved so you can get enough grant applications out there that it will really make a difference.

Third, consider using The School Funding Center’s grant writers. We write on contingency, so you will only risk a $500 up-front fee in order for us to write any grant for you. If you get grant money, you will owe us a percentage based on the amount of money you receive. If you don’t receive the grant money, you won’t owe us anything else.

There are just two keys to getting large amounts of grant money for your school. You have to make sure the grants for which you apply match up well with the needs of your school. And, you have to fill out enough grant applications, so that if you only get 25-30% of them funded, you’ll still have plenty of money to cover your needs.

The bad news is that tough economic times are here to stay for awhile for most schools. The good news is that you can help address this problem in a positive manner with the number and quality of grant applications
you submit this year.

It’s Grant-Writing Time

It’s always a good time to apply for grants for your school. Several grants are always available regardless of the time of the year. If I were picking out the very best time to write grants, however, it would be at the beginning of the school year. Here are several reasons why:

1) You have all the data from last school year to determine what problems you had and what needs to be corrected. Why run the same programs and get the same poor results this year? If your math program fell further behind, if your reading levels were not up to par, if your minority students did not perform as well as your other students—all of these are reasons to change your programs and apply for grant money to fund them. You know if you have these problems by scanning last year’s data. Use that data to get the grant money you need.

2) More grants are available this time of year than any other. Fall is when a majority of state and federal grants are announced. You should be scouring the Discount School Supply grant database to see what grants are newly available at least on a weekly basis.

Yes, it’s true, many, many grants are available throughout the year as I said above, but it is also true that more grants are available in August, September, and October than at any other time of the year. Apply for several of these grants. You increase your chances of getting grant money by applying for multiple grants.

3) The beginning of school is usually hectic, but get past the first week or two, and blocking out time to write a grant or two will be easier now than later when things begin to pile up. Write grants before school starts or after things have settled down a little – after the first couple of weeks.

4) You can apply for grant money for the remainder of the fall semester, the spring semester, or even for next summer. You will never have as much flexibility as you do in the fall to apply for money, and, yes, there’s still time to get money for the fall semester.

I’ve listed 4 solid reasons that NOW is the time to write grants for your school. Start by spending some time in the Discount School Supply grant database. Find the grants that match your problem areas and write several grants early in the fall semester. There is simply no better time to go after grant money for your school.