Monday, January 7, 2013

I've Moved

Hi, this is Don and I am happy to tell you that How to Get a School Grant is now hosted on Wordpress. Just click here! Please change your bookmarks so you can keep up with my latest posts!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Can You Spare a Few Hours?

I could tell you that you should write a short grant during the holiday break. You’ll probably have a little extra time during the ten days to two weeks that you’re on vacation from school. A lot of grant deadlines are listed for December 31st, so that makes it a good time to write a grant and get it in just under the wire. Also, the competition will be limited, because, let’s face it, how many people will actually get around to applying for a grant during the holiday break?  

Having said all that, I’m not going to recommend that you apply for a grant during your break because you probably wouldn’t do it anyway. I am going to suggest that you take a few hours during your vacation time and do some grant research.

The first research I would do is to examine the mid-term assessments you will likely be administering before the holidays. These assessments could be for the district, a single campus, or even a classroom, but they likely contain information that will help you get grant money for the spring semester or summer school.

Basically, you want to identify two types of programs from your assessments. You want to know the programs you have in place that are not as productive as they should be. You set goals for each program at the beginning of the year. The first thing you are looking for are programs where the students simply are not progressing as they should. They won’t reach their goals by the end of the year. You will need to make changes to those programs early in the spring semester, and you may not have the money to make those changes. If you don’t make changes, you are unlikely to reach your goals. If you make the right changes and get grant money to help you, you just might be able to turn the program around and still meet your goals.

You should also be studying your assessments for another type of program: one that is working remarkably well. If you just keep doing what you’re doing, your students will far surpass the goals you set. But what would happen if you were able to expand that program to other students, other grade levels, or other buildings? Chances are, they would get the same extraordinary results. You can use your assessment data to write a grant to expand your services to those larger groups. This type of assessment data can be very persuasive to grantors if you use it properly and make a thorough analysis of why you are being so successful.

The other research I would do during the holiday break revolves around school grant databases. As you probably know, I am a strong proponent of using grant databases. They save an unbelievable amount of time and effort. Discount School Supply® provides you with an excellent free grant database where you can find grants listed under a wide variety of topics. You need to take a few hours and do a comprehensive search using that database just to see what all is available to you.

You would probably be amazed at the number of grants available, the amount of money available, and how simple some grant applications are to complete. If you are going after grant money for a district, campus, or classroom, knowing the content of the Discount School Supply® database can be invaluable to you. It’s certainly worth a few hours of your time on the Internet to explore everything that’s available.

No, I’m not asking you to spend all your holiday vacation working on one grant application after another. Just do some research so you’re ready to start filling out grant applications when you go back to school. Study those mid-year assessments to find those programs which are failing miserably. Then find the programs that are working remarkably well. Repair the failing programs and expand the ones that are working. And finally, do some research using the Discount School Supply® grant database. It’s free and it’s a perfect resource for finding the grants you need.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Funded by:  Verizon

Description:  The Verizon Innovative App Challenge provides the opportunity for middle school and high school students, working with a faculty advisor, to use their STEM knowledge, their ingenuity, and their creativity to come up with an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community. Each of the 10 winning schools (5 middle school and 5 high school teams) will receive $10,000 cash grants plus professional support and training to help them bring their designs to life by building their apps and bringing them to the marketplace. Students on each winning team will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab and be invited to present their developed apps in person—on their new tablets—at the 2013 National Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando, Florida in June. 

Program Areas:  General Education, Math, Science/Environment

Recipients:  Public School, Private School

Proposal Deadline:  1/18/13

Average Amount:  $10,000.00

Availability:  All States

Grant Name:  Big Help Grants

Funded by:  National Education Association (NEA) Foundation and Nickelodeon

Description:  The NEA Foundation – Nickelodeon Big Help Grants are available in the form of Student Achievement grants to K-8 public school educators. The Big Help Grants program is dedicated to the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing four key concerns – environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement. The grants target these four concerns as areas of great promise in helping develop a sense of global awareness in 21st century students that will encourage and enable them to make a difference in their world. Both the NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon are strongly committed to supporting the development of these skills and attributes for America’s students.

Program Areas:  General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School, Private School

Proposal Deadline:  2/1/13

Average Amount:  $2,000.00 - $5,000.00

Contact Person:  Jesse Graytock, Grants Manager

Availability:  All States

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants

Funded by:  Sodexo Foundation

Description:  More than 16 million children live in food insecure homes, not always sure where their next meal will come from. That’s why YSA and Sodexo Foundation are calling on young people to “take hunger personally” and join the fight to end childhood hunger. Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants of $500 grants are available for youth-led service projects that bring together young people, families, Sodexo employees and other community members to address childhood hunger. U.S. young people, ages 5-25, are eligible to apply. Projects will take place on or around Global Youth Service Day, April 26-28, 2013.

Program Areas:  At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Other

Proposal Deadline:  1/31/13

Average Amount:  $500.00

Contact Person:  Amanda McDonald

Availability:  All States

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grants for Closing Achievement Gaps

In one way or another most grant money is used in an attempt to close achievement gaps between different groups of students. A lot of grants specifically list money as being available primarily to economically disadvantaged students. That, in itself, lets you know that money is designated to help you close achievement gaps. 

Since our great country was partially founded on the principle of giving an equal opportunity to all, it is not unusual that a great deal of grant money given by the federal government, state governments, foundations, and corporations is given to close achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged students and those who are not disadvantaged. While it is not usually stated so overtly, in essence, closing the achievement gap in most schools is an attempt to give all students an equal shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a matter of fact, as a group, those who drop out of school or end their school careers far behind their peers are likely to die younger, commit more crimes, spend more time incarcerated, earn far less, and have more broken homes.

In other words, while a good education does not guarantee you fulfillment of the American dream, the lack of a good education certainly makes it that much harder to achieve. That’s why almost all teachers and principals work their hardest to give every child a good education. That’s also why so many grantors give money to those who are specifically attempting to close the achievement gaps in their districts, their buildings, and in their classrooms.

If most of the students in your district do not achieve anywhere close to the national or state norms, grant money should be readily available. Let me hasten to add, however, that if you have gotten lots of grant money in the past and did little to close the achievement gap between your students and those in other districts, grant money may get harder and harder to come by without some drastic changes in the structure and practices of your district. I believe the warning to grantors is, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Grantors are reluctant to keep spending money when the grant recipients have had little or no success in the past.

If you are looking to close the achievement gap between a campus and other campuses in your district, you should still find plenty of grants available. Again, the key is to show success with your initial grant and that will make it easier if you need to apply for other grant money. This type of achievement gap can be a sore spot for you, especially if your students come from similar neighborhoods and/or from families with similar economic circumstances. If that happens to be the case, it is imperative that you visit other campuses where students are consistently achieving as they should, then do most of the same things they do. If something works, use it. Don’t think that your situation is so unique that you have to invent some new solution to the problem.

Finally, it is a rare classroom that does not have some achievement gaps. These achievement gaps have almost nothing to do with gender or race and everything to do with some students being economically disadvantaged. It’s a safe bet that the class you got from the grade below already had severe achievement gaps from day one. To close these gaps, your disadvantaged students will have to grow at a more rapid rate than those who are not disadvantaged. That may mean they need to spend more time on such things as reading and math, and they need more help in the form of tutoring before or after school. To close the gap, you must provide something that changes their rate of learning so that they can grow at a faster rate than other students. To provide these things, you may need grant money.

I believe the United States is still the finest country on the planet. It can only stay that way if we continue to follow the democratic principles on which it was founded. We must provide an education to all children that allows them to pursue the American dream --- whatever that may be in their eyes. In education, the first step to doing that is to close the achievement gaps between those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are not.

Fortunately, millions of dollars of grant money are spent every year on this very problem. Make sure your school is getting its share of that money and also doing its part to close those achievement gaps.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Fuel Up to Play 60

Funded by:  National Dairy Council and National Football League

Description:  The competitive funding initiative provides money to help schools jump-start and sustain healthy nutrition and physical activity improvements.

Program Areas:  General Education, Health/PE

Recipients:  Public School

Proposal Deadline:  1/15/13

Average Amount:  $1,000.00 - $4,000.00

Telephone:  800-752-4337

Availability:  All States


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Things to Do Before Winter Break

You still have a lot of school days between now and winter break. You want to make absolutely sure that you use them productively. I have listed five activities that should help. Several of these activities relate to getting grant money. All of them relate to being productive at a time when productivity can go out the window if you don’t plan carefully.

Between now and winter break, you may want to consider one or more these activities:
1) Have a read-a-thon. If you are going to do an early release, or if you just have a day or two when students are likely to be very antsy and not want to concentrate on school work, having a read-a-thon can help you calm students and get them to focus on a productive activity. I found classroom read-a-thons very productive as a teacher and school-wide read-a-thons productive as a principal.

2) Make sure you do mid-year testing if your semester ends anywhere close to winter break. Students should have made measurable gains in every program, and you especially need to measure those gains in the programs you funded with grant money. By measuring growth at mid-year, you can make adjustments to your program if the gains are inadequate or enhance your program even more if you find you’re heading in the right direction. Either way, you have to measure the growth your students have made during the first semester to fine tune your program for the second semester.

3) If your district will allow it, sponsor a food drive in your classroom or building. The holiday season is a great time for most families. It is the hardest of times for others. This gives you an opportunity to involve your students and teach them to give to those less fortunate than themselves. We need to teach students more than math and reading.

4) Write a grant or two. You only have about six weeks left to submit a grant that will benefit students during the second semester. If you write a couple of grants now (especially if they are foundation or corporate grants), you should get your money soon enough to impact your students during the second semester. Go past winter break and it becomes harder to get money that will be impactful in the second semester.

5) Form a grant committee, find a grant-writing partner, or hire a grant writer. If you determine that your campus or district needs grant money, and you don’t have a full-time grant writer (which most districts don’t), form a plan to write grants during the second semester. Yes, I know this will not help your students during the spring semester, but at least with this activity out of the way, you can make progress writing grants for summer school and for the fall semester. Planning now can pay great dividends in the future.

There you have it; five activities that will help you and your students have a better holiday season and get more done than you thought possible. Yes, the time between now and winter break can be hectic, but you can make it more calm and more productive if you plan properly.