Getting Started: It’s as Easy as A, B, C

Most educators are reactive when it comes to proposal writing. After a Request for Proposal (RFP) arrives from a District, County, State, or Federal agency, everyone panics and wonders how to ever pull it all together under the tight time requirements of the proposal. This knee-jerk reaction to the lure of funds causes staff to run around creating surveys, researching test score data, calling vendors for pricing, determining a need, developing a program, running it by colleagues, getting approvals and signatures and a whole lot more. No wonder educators are hesitant to write proposals.

There is an easier way. By being a part of this on-line seminar you will learn how to avoid chasing the golden carrots and learn to empower yourself by becoming a proactive grant seekers. In this seminar, we will develop a proposal together, creating a fundable program to address existing needs. By following along (and writing your own proposal) you will begin to learn the secrets of writing fundable proposals. You will learn by doing.

Many of you are technology-using educators (after all, you are getting this from an on-line service) and are interested in expanding technology opportunities for the students you serve. Your colleagues, and perhaps you, just want someone somewhere to give you money or get you stuff you already know what to do to make it all work. Unfortunately, in the eyes of a grant funder, without a vision, you don't have a mission. Without a plan, you have nothing. Without a program, you just have stuff.

A Twelve Step Approach to Grant Procurement

To win at the grant game, you need a game plan. Here is my 12-step approach. The successful grant seeker/proposal writer:

1. Identifies needs in terms of students, staff, and program.

2. Develops a proposal (a solution concept or program or set of activities to meet the identified needs).

3. Identifies and/or searches for a funding source.

4. Determines the likelihood of funding.

5. Develops a preliminary "swiss cheese" proposal (a written proposal with a lot of holes).

6. Gets their supervisors "go" or "no go."

7. Involves in-house participants.

8. Writes the proposal.

9. Reviews and modifies proposal.

10. Obtains all required signatures.

11. Submits.

12. Funding decision. If yes the work begins; if no, you ask for feedback and/or review sheets and start again.

Develop an Idea

Think of your proposal as a project. You will start from a need and develop a program to meet that need. What are you most interested in finding funding for? What do you want to do? What do you want to have kids do? What kinds of resources will you need to gather?

From your description, or "pitch," we begin the proposal process. The article mentioned above will help you determine what to include in your pitch (especially when you sell it to colleagues, administrators, and other community members). But for now think about what kids will do in your project. This will help you focus your plan, gain support of stakeholders, and develop a preliminary budget.

Here are a few of the brief needs descriptions submitted by seminar participants.

Example 1

To enhance science materials, so that children have the chance to hypothesize and problem solve within low socioeconomic families.

Example 2

An individualized Math curriculum.

Example 3

Our school wishes to develop a grant proposal to help us with funding a project which will primarily and initially begin to instruct our staff on the use of the Internet and how it could be incorporated for research or into a specific curriculum area. We would like to begin by training all staff on its design and functions, but target a specific grade level or curriculum area to integrate Web sites with certain subject areas. We would need funding for instructional purposes and for hardware purposes.

Example 4.

Being a K-8 grade school, our goals are wide ranging. Our aim is to create for our students opportunities to participate in the Arts community (through artists in residence?), and to provide a means for students to participate in projects which integrate all subject areas.

Example 5.

I am interested in setting up a newspaper in education program that will make use of empty school space & time over the summer period. I am interested in working with teachers and other educational staff, parents, businesses in helping to continue the children's learning experiences in a fun & challenging way.

Example 6.

Our goal is to develop programs that will allow students to analyze current information about our world, synthesize this information, and present these learnings to an audience. These projects will feature curricular integration of science, social studies, language arts, and math. Our district is currently being networked, however we lack hardware and software to be able to carry out projects that will result in our students being able to use technology for life-long learning.


Take your own example, and determine what kids will do (and/or teachers if you are writing a staff development proposal, community members if appropriate, etc.).

If you don't know how to get started, answer these questions.

1. What is it? State the title of your proposal and give a brief, one to five sentence description of the proposed project.

2. For whom? Who will be the benefactors when your proposal is successfully funded?

3. Why is the project fundable? What is the need for this project? Why should it be funded?

4. How are you going to do it? What are the project objectives? Major activities?

5. How much will it cost? Give a general budget breakdown. For example, "the project will need $6,000 for hardware and software, $3,000 for teacher training, and $1,000 for project dissemination." Don't worry about the final budget and all the details just yet, we will do that later in the seminar.

  • Subjects:
    Funding and Grants