Tag Archives: grant money

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.

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.