Category Archives: smaller grants

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.

Should Principals and Teachers Apply for Grants?

Last time I wrote about forming grant committees at a campus and district level. I want to talk a little more about grants at the campus level – campus and classroom grants. I believe more and more schools need to write these smaller grants in order to supplement declining budgets.

Grants don’t have to be huge to make a difference. Target has given out 5,000 field trip grants worth $5,000,000 each year for the last couple of years. Each grant is only $500.00, but field trips are also one of the first items that schools routinely cut from their budgets. It is not unusual for local Wal-Mart managers to hand out $500 – $1,000 grants locally for special school or community foundation projects. Neither grant is a large amount of money, but $500 – $1,000 at the right time can make a huge difference for a campus or classroom project.

It is unfortunate that some districts won’t allow principals and teachers to apply for grants. Some grants require the district to continue funding a program once the grant money runs out. When principals and teachers apply for these types of grants without informing the district of the continued obligation, it can really get sticky. Normally, the local school board must approve the money to continue a grant program. Because of the problems such a scenario can cause, some districts simply refuse to allow teachers and principals to apply for grants.

I believe a much better way to handle this situation is for central administration to have a review process wherein principals and teachers can apply for grants, but they must have the prior approval of the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or the district’s grant coordinator depending on the size of the district. Once a district administrator has signed off on a grant, that removes the element of surprise once grant money starts arriving, or it’s time for the district to continue funding a program when grant funds are depleted.

I would never say that all of the shortfalls in today’s budgets can be made up by writing campus or classroom grants, but I do think they can help. They can also get teachers and campus administrators more involved in the funding process. It’s a great feeling to help your campus find and win money that helps to improve instruction.

When I was the principal of a small middle school (500 students) in Northeast Texas, we were able to bring in more than $300,000 in a 3-year period in grant and partnership money. My teachers never spent their own money for supplies. We always had money to improve programs or to try new ones. None of that $300,000 came from our regular budget. It was money over and above the money the district gave us.

The principals and teachers at your campus may not be able to bring in that much money. On the other hand, you might be able to bring in much more than that. I can tell you this. If you never write a grant, form a partnership with a local business, or do any kind of fundraising, you won’t bring in any extra money to supplement your budget. You have to take action.

You might say that grant writing is not your job. Maybe it’s not. As a principal, I always thought our campus should do anything we possibly could to give our students a better education. I hope you believe that, too. Winning campus and classroom grants can supply you with more money, and it can also give you a great sense of accomplishment.