Category Archives: How to search for grants

The Second Step: Developing a Solution

If you want to secure grant money for your school, the first step is to understand in detail the problems your school faces. Once you have clearly identified those hurdles to student achievement or schoolwide success, the second step is to develop a plan/solution that has the greatest likelihood of achieving your goals.

When I first became a middle school principal, our test scores indicated that we had a reading problem. Overall, our students read about 1.5 grade levels below the national average. We already had a Title I reading program, but we weren’t getting very good results. We did our research and found that:

1) Although we had a serious school-wide reading problem, only our very poorest readers attended reading classes.
2) Although we knew that reading was a skill, we did not provide enough time durng the school day for our students to practice that skill.
3) Monitoring large amounts of independent reading is difficult without enough computers and specialized software.

With that knowledge, we were able to put together a comprehensive plan in which

• all students, regardless of their reading levels, would attend a reading class.
• each student would spend one hour each day in reading practice on appropriate-level materials.
• we would use the STAR reading test to determine the beginning reading levels of students and to measure growth.
• we would use Accelerated Reader software to monitor students’ daily reading.

In addition, we would initiate “structural” changes in order to meet the needs of our new program:

• In order to make time in the school day for students to receive an hour of reading practice, we had to change from a 7-period to an 8-period schedule.
• All of our teachers would become reading teachers in order to monitor 30 minutes of reading practice time. The regular reading teachers monitored the other 30 minutes and taught mini-lessons on skills.
• We had to purchase STAR and Accelerated Reader.
• We had to purchase thousands of library books to match the reading levels, interests, and reading volume of our students.
• We had to purchase dozens of computers to monitor the program.

We developed a special budget in order to put our plan into place. While our solution was relatively expensive, we did not consider costs when we developed the plan. We only considered the results we would be likely to achieve. To get the money we needed to fund our plan, we tapped into the regular budget, Title I, and special education funds. But that wasn’t enough. We wrote grants, and we entered into a partnership with the software company to do detailed research as we measured our students’ reading growth.

When your school faces a hurdle to student achievement, the key is to build a plan that directly addresses the problem and has the greatest likelihood of success. When you are developing your plan, don’t worry about costs. That will come later. If you can, find schools with similar demographics that have faced similar problems and made major improvements. Duplicate the best parts of their plans if it’s feasible for you to do so — without consideration to money.

When your plan is complete — and you’re sure it is comprehensive and has an excellent chance of success — then comes the time to start worrying about the budget and finding the money to fund your program. Which brings us to the topic we will cover in my next blog: finding grant money to fund your program.

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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.

Science and Technology Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: American Honda Foundation Grants

Funded by: The American Honda Foundation

Description: Organizations working in the areas of youth and scientific education may be eligible for grants from the American Honda Foundation. Our policy is to seek out those programs and organizations with a well-defined sense of purpose, demonstrated commitment to making the best use of available resources and a reputation for accomplishing their objectives. The American Honda Foundation will make grants in the field of youth and scientific education to: Educational institutions, K-12. Accredited higher education institutions (colleges and universities). Community colleges and vocational or trade schools. Scholarship and fellowship programs at selected colleges and/or universities or through selected national, non-profit organizations. Other scientific and education-related non-profit, tax-exempt organizations. Gifted student programs. Youth educational or scientific programs or institutions. Educational radio and/or television stations or networks. Films, movies, film strips, slides and/or short subjects concerning youth and/or scientific education. College, university or other non-profit laboratories engaged in scientific education. Private, non-profit scientific and/or youth education projects. Other non-profit, tax-exempt institutions in the fields of youth and scientific education. Programs pertaining to academic or curriculum development that emphasize innovative educational methods and techniques.

Program Areas: General Education, Science/Environment, Technology, TAG

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter School, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline: 8/1/10

Telephone: 310-781-4090

Website: http://corporate.honda.com/images/banners/america/AHF_brochure.pdf

Availability: All States

Math & Science Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: 7-12 Math and Science Grants

Funded by: Toshiba America Foundation

Description: The mission of Toshiba America Foundation is to promote quality science and mathematics education in U.S. schools. Grants are made for programs and activities that improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics, grades K-12. The Foundation focuses its grant making on inquiry-based projects designed by individual teachers, and small teams of teachers, for use in their own classrooms.

Program Areas: Science/Environment, General Education, Math, Technology

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter Schools, Other

Proposal Deadline: 8/1/10

Average Amount: $9,500.00 – $17,000.00

Contact Person: Laura Cronin, Director

Email: foundation@tai.toshiba.com

Website: http://www.taf.toshiba.com

Availability: All States

Completing Foundation Applications – The Right Way!

You will be asked to apply for foundation grants in one of several ways:

1) A foundation may have its own on-line application.

2) A foundation may have its own paper application.

3) A foundation may use one of several standard applications.

4) A foundation may have no application and simply want you to write a letter.

More and more granting entities provide on-line applications. You simply go to their individual sites on the Internet and fill out the application while you’re on line. Normally, you can print these applications out to work on your narrative and budget, but you will actually submit the application with the information you fill out on line. This type of application certainly helps when dealing with deadlines. You won’t need to worry about getting a certain postmark or the grant application getting to the foundation on time.

Many foundations have their own paper applications. You can usually download the application from the foundation’s website and print it out. When the application is complete, you simply mail it or FedEx it to the foundation. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the foundation to receive your proposal before the deadline. Overnight mail does not always reach its destination when promised. You may get your money back from the post office, but your grant won’t be considered if it does not meet the foundation’s deadline.

Many foundations use a common grant application. The problem is that a host of these common applications exist, and you need to be sure to use the right one for the organization to which you are applying.

You can find a list of many of these common applications at:

http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/cga.html

or by Googling “common grant applications”.

Finally, some foundations don’t even use an application. You have to write a letter to them requesting funds. When you write that letter, however, I recommend that you include most of the information you would have had you completed a regular application. You’ll just put it in the form of a letter.

Foundation applications are usually the shortest and simplest. You should be able to complete several in just a few days if you have all your information gathered and organized.

Do You Know Your Grant Categories?

One major way to categorize grants is by the type of problem the grant addresses. If a grant is designated as a reading grant, obviously you aren’t going to be able to get money to fix a problem you are having in math, unless, of course, the math problem you have is directly related to your students’ inability to read well enough to work any type of stated problem in math.

Obviously, there is great overlap in these categories. An after-school program funded by grant money may involve extra instruction in science and social studies. That is why you need to fully understand the types of problems you have. The overlap in categories can often lead you to additional grant money.

Basically, the main categories of grants for schools include the following:

adult literacy library
after-school math
arts professional development
at-risk/character reading
community involvement/volunteerism
safe/drug-free schools
disabilities science/environment
early childhood
social studies
ESL/bilingual/foreign language
special education
facilities/maintenance
technology
family services transportation
health/PE vocational

Of course, there are other grant topics, but generally these will fit under one of those listed above. Also, it is possible to have quite a bit of overlap. You may have a reading problem that is strongly impacting student performance in social studies and science, and you need considerable professional development in reading in the content areas to correct the problem. You might find grant money under any one of those categories or all of them.

Always try to approach the problems you are experiencing from as many angles as possible. When you do, your solution is likely to be more complete, and it consistently opens up more funding sources.

Grants can be categorized in many different ways. Once you have determined the problem that you have at your school, develop a plan for fixing that problem, and determine the cost of the program, you are ready to start looking in the different grant categories to find grants that match your needs.