Grant Writing 101: Getting Your Hands On Good Stuff
Face it you’ve got great, no stellar, ideas for classroom instruction this year. Think about what you would provide for your students if money wasn’t an issue. Go ahead, the sky is the limit, dream BIG. I bet instruction could get exponentially more engaging. Acquiring tools, resources, and materials for our students can present quite a challenge. With ever-changing state budgets and limited funds, money can be scarce. Armed with enough how-to-knowledge, grant writing can provide the answer. I’d like to share a couple grant resources and writing tips with you in this week’s blog.
Years ago I was very reluctant to even attempt grant writing. I was concerned about things like; locating grant opportunities, how to write a grant, and being embarrassed if my proposal wasn’t chosen. Finally, I realized that I was crazy for not attempting to get in on the opportunities that grant money could provide for my students. I wrote my first grant and was rejected. Down, but not out, I wrote my second grant proposal. This time I consulted colleagues in the building that I knew had received grants in the past, and got input, lots and lots of input. It proved fruitful. My first grant was funded and I was able to put 9 GPS units into the hands of my students. Navigation, geography, triangulation, and physical science had just gotten a lot more exciting for my students.
I have prepared a list of things to consider when writing a grant proposal. These are my “top 6” to-dos when grant writing and what I consider every time I sit down to sell one of my ideas.
- Make a wish list-
Do it. List by content area all of the items you’d like to purchase for your students. From technology to math and language arts manipulatives, knowing what you want ahead of time will help facilitate the writing process when you hear about the grant that has a deadline of less than 24 hours.
Know the guidelines of the grant-
What is the focus of the grant? Math? Science? Technology? Service-learning? Keeping in mind what the grant provider is looking for is crucial. Can your name be on the grant, and if so where, only the cover page? Believe it or not, this one completely eliminated me from a grant proposal I submitted last year. It was a great grant too. That’s what I get for not reading the fine print.
Consult with a colleague-
From brainstorming to reading the final draft, it’s always better to let another set of eyes take a peek at your masterpiece. Some grants even require that more than one person be included in the writing process.
Engage your reader. You could have the best idea in the world and the title could leave it a little flat. Grant readers are supposed to read every grant in a cycle; however, I happen to know per a “reader of grants” that if the title doesn’t do anything for him, then it can be torturous to continue reading.
- Know the deadlines-
Sounds obvious I know, but deadlines have a way of sneaking up on us. If you have some sort of electronic way to remind yourself of upcoming deadlines, I would begin to include your grant deadlines in that list as well.
Bigger is better-
The larger the number of students impacted by your proposal the greater your chances of getting the grant. Also keep in mind that including special or underserved populations is also a great idea. Diversity is key.
Finally, I would like to include a link to the Dell website that lists, by month, grants (with deadlines) that are available specifically for educators. The page is for the 2009-2010 year. I just love this resource. There are even grants specifically for kids only (check out the Do Something link). I am also including another link to grants available to classroom teachers. I will post updates as I locate more resources. Also, please feel free to share any resources or best practices you know of for grant writing. You can so do this! Now get out there and go put your hands on some good stuff for your students!