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Four Rules for Getting Your Grant Approved

Winning strategies from a veteran grant writer

Keith Butcher, executive director for the Regional Education Service Agency in Beckley, West Virginia, has applied for and received more than $500 million in local, state, and federal grant funding to achieve school, regional, and state program goals. How did he do it? Beyond the mandatory basics of proper planning and using spell check, Butcher has a few other winning tricks. Check out these four tips:

Get to Know the Funder
Whether or not attending an introductory workshop is required for application, the information gained through attendance is invaluable. If you have the opportunity to do so before submitting the grant, discuss your proposal idea with the funding agency to ensure that your grant focus is compatible with the agency's philosophy.

Don't Overdo It
The proposal must be both realistic and achievable for your district. Never write beyond the capacity of your institution. During one year, Butcher submitted and received three major curriculum grants for his school. While the school staff loved the additional funding, they quickly became overworked when they began to implement all of the grant goals. By Christmas, Butcher says, they were ready to tar and feather the grant writer.

Get a Second Opinion
Ask outside readers to make sure that your proposal is clear and concise. An objective reader can help you identify fatal flaws like using technical or occupational jargon that the lay person may not understand.

Plan to Win
Although some grant proposals require an implementation plan and timeline, many do not. Do not underestimate the need to always develop an implementation plan. Upon notification of your grant approval, your team needs to be ready to hit the ground running. You do not want to waste valuable time, money, and materials—and thus grant impact—by failing to implement your efforts in a timely manner.

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