Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Check This Out! -- Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Sprint Ahead for Education Grant

Funded by: Sprint Foundation

Description: The Sprint Character Education Grant Program will award individual school grants between $500 and $5,000 and school district grants between $10,000 and $25,000. In 2008, the Sprint Foundation awarded more than $600,000 in combined grants to schools and school districts through a similar program, Sprint Ahead for Education. “Sprint, through the Sprint Foundation, is committed to helping educators develop the right character-education initiatives for their student population,” said Ralph Reid, president of the Sprint Foundation. “The Sprint Character Education Grant Program allows teachers and administrators to implement programs that they know will work to encourage leadership, confidence and pride in their unique K-12 education setting.” The Sprint Character Education Grant Program will accept applications for character-education programs that promote youth leadership, youth volunteerism, school pride and a positive school culture.

Program Areas: At-Risk/Character, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School

Proposal Deadline: 2/27/09

Total Amount: $600,000.00

Average Amount: $500.00 - $25,000.00

Contact person: Alexander Hahn

Phone: 703-433-3062


Website: Click Here

Availability: All States

Writing Grants, It Does Get Easier

Most of the folks who read this blog are not professional grant writers. I know that because they email me with questions and comments. I also know that it is very difficult to apply for your first grant or two.

Everyone tells you just to jump in with both feet, but you don’t want to break your legs if the pool is not deep enough, and you don’t want to go in over your head and drown. Writing for me is a painful process. The same is true when I’m applying for grants, and I’ve done it for years. Fortunately, it does get easier each time you apply for a grant.

I recommend two things to make the process easier. First, choose a grant that matches closely with your needs. The closer the match, the easier it is to fill out the application. You’re not trying to force anything. Use the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply to match your needs with the right grant.

Second, choose a nice little foundation grant if you can that requires a short application or letter to apply. Don’t go after a large state or federal grant. The application process is usually long and tedious on state and federal grants, and it is likely to overwhelm you.

Lay out your application as I recommended in my last post. Yes, it’s difficult to say what you want to say exactly the way you want to say it. Just get something on paper first, and then go back and edit and rewrite it. Don’t agonize over the application. Get something written, rewrite it, and then, if at all possible, get one or two people to review it for you.

Now, here’s the good part. Once you have completed one grant application, every application you write after that one gets easier and easier. There are a couple of reasons for that. One, you’ve broken through the mental block of completing a new and challenging task for the first time. Two, you will use large sections of what you wrote in your first application on your second, third, and fourth grant applications. You can’t just copy and send the same application to multiple foundations (really bad idea), but you can lift many sections and ideas out of that first application and use it in other applications. It makes the task of grant writing much easier.

If you still think you might have trouble getting started with your first application, I recommend looking at some sample grant applications provided at these two sites:

Look in the menu bar for sample grants or sample proposals. With that additional help, you should be able to complete your first application without too much anguish.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grant Eligibility -- Using the DSS Grant Database

Before you apply for any grant, you need to determine if you are eligible for that particular grant. The free Discount School Supply MySchoolGrantsm Database makes it easy for you to make that determination.

First go to the registration page. Put in your email address. Choose your state, your type of school or other, and the type of grant for which you’re searching. The database will give you a list of possible grants. For any grant that looks promising, click on “More info” under “Grant Details.”

This will give you a description of the grant, contact information, and grant eligibility. Eligibility will include public schools, private/charter schools, higher education, and/or other. “Other” is the designation given 501(c)(3)’s, other non-profits, and any for-profit organizations that may be listed.

Depending on the type of school or organization you represent, this will broadly let you know if you are eligible for that grant. Even if your type of school or organization is not listed there, however, I would still continue to do some research on eligibility if the grant looks really promising.

First, read the grant description closely. This description will sometimes narrow the eligibility to certain large cities or a particular geographic region within a state.
Next, you should click on the direct link to the website if one is listed. Complete eligibility information is always given on the grantor’s website if they have one. Read all the available information on the website thoroughly.

If you still have questions about your eligibility for that grant, use the phone number, email address, or mailing address to contact the grantor to make absolutely certain that you qualify for their grant money. I recommend making a phone call whenever possible to save time and avoid confusion. Never, ever begin applying for a grant until you know for sure that you are eligible for that grant.

Billions of dollars in grant money are distributed every year to schools and other organizations. The number one reason that these schools and organizations are not awarded the grants for which they apply is that they weren’t eligible for those particular grants to begin with.

You are likely eligible for hundreds and hundreds of grants that are listed in the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply. Use that database to its fullest extent to be sure you are indeed eligible for the grants for which you apply.

Check this out!

Grant Name: Pay It Forward Mini-Grants
Funded by: Pay It Forward Foundation
Description: The purpose of the Pay It Forward Mini-Grants is intended to fund one-time-only service-oriented projects identified by youth as activities they would like to carry out to benefit their school, neighborhood, or greater community. Projects must enclose a "pay it forward" focus - that is, they must be based on the idea of one person doing a favor for others, who in turn do favors for others, with the results increasing exponentially - to be considered in the grant making process.
Program Areas: Community Involvement/Volunteerism, All Other
Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Faith-Based, Other
Proposal Deadline: 2/15/09
Average Amount: $500.00
Availability: All States

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is My School or Organization Eligible for Grants?

I get a lot of questions from schools and other organizations about their eligibility for grants. It’s a legitimate question, and I want to spend a little time in this blog explaining grant eligibility. Then, in my next post I’ll discuss how you can use the free grant database that Discount School Supply provides you to determine whether or not you are eligible for specific grants.

First of all, two types of organizations are eligible for the most grants. They are public schools and non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations. The next two types of organizations in line for grant eligibility are private schools and other types of non-profit organizations. By far the least eligible for grants are for-profit organizations of any type.

Many public schools truly do not have the money to operate as they should, especially if they have large populations of at-risk students from low-income families. To be able to fund much needed technology upgrades, adequate reading programs, and arts programs slashed by budget cuts, they require grant money.
While almost all public schools are eligible for a lot of grant money, those schools with the most disadvantaged populations are eligible for the most grants.

Other organizations that receive a large amount of grant money are the non-profits with a 501(c)(3) designation. They have to apply to the federal government for this 501(c)(3) status, and once it is obtained, they do not pay federal income taxes. So many grants go to this type of non-profit organization that many schools are now setting up their own 501(c)(3) foundations in order to be eligible for these grants. Though it is not a simple process, it may well be worth your time and effort to get this designation if you are eligible.

The next two groups in line for eligibility for grant money are private schools and other non-profit organizations. More than a billion dollars a year is granted to these groups, but they are simply not eligible for as many grants as public schools and 501(c)(3)’s. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it’s not really pertinent to this discussion. It’s just important to remember two points. One, there’s still plenty of grant money out there for your private school or non-profit organization, and two, you’re going to have to work harder and smarter to get your share of the money that is available.

Finally, if you are a for-profit school, business, or organization, I cannot be very encouraging to you concerning grants. There are very few granting entities out there who want to help you turn a profit. You might be eligible for some grant money depending on how disadvantaged your clientele may be, but finding grant money will be difficult. If fact, I usually recommend that you go through the Small Business Administration. It is sponsored by the federal government, and the SBA offers a program of guaranteed loans and grants to small business owners.

Next time I will discuss using the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply to check your eligibility for individual grants. Don’t miss it.

Check This Out!

Grant Name: LEGO Children’s Fund Grants
Funded by: LEGO Children’s Fund
Description: The LEGO Children’s Fund will provide quarterly grants for programs, either in part or in total, with a special interest paid to collaborative efforts and in providing matching funds to leverage new dollars into the receiving organization. We will give priority consideration to programs that both meet our goals and are supported in volunteer time and effort by our employees.

Program Areas: After-School, At-Risk/Character, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Technology
Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other
Proposal Deadline: 2/1/09
Average Amount: $500.00 - $5,000.00
Availability: All States