Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Strengthen Your Grant Proposal

The grant proposals with the greatest chance of being funded are the ones the grant readers believe have the best chance of being successfully implemented. In other words, if you are able to convince those reading and evaluating your grant proposal that you will actually be successful in correcting the problems you address in the proposal, you are much more likely to be awarded the grant money.

Any grant program is essentially a change program. There are two ways to increase the likelihood of success in any change program. The first is to copy a program that is already successful as closely as possible. The second is to pilot a small change program of your own first and then seek grant money to expand it based on the success you achieved in your pilot program. When I was principal of a middle school in Northeast Texas, we were able to capture grant money in both ways. In this post we will look at emulating another school’s program to strengthen your grant application. Next time we’ll look at using a pilot program in the same way.

If you are going to write a grant based on the success of another school, it is important that you have similar populations and similar problems to overcome. It doesn’t help to say you are going to improve your reading scores just like an adjacent school when their students were one grade level behind and yours are two grade levels behind, and they have 20% at-risk students when you have 60%. The problems don’t match, and the student population doesn’t match. A grant reader would have no reason to believe you would achieve similar success.

On the other hand, if a neighboring school has reading scores very similar to yours and their student population is similar, too, you have every reason to believe you can achieve the same success they did if you base your grant program on the same program they did and implemented it in the same way. You should include their positive results in your grant application, stressing the similarities in the two schools. Sell the idea that you can implement a similar program and get similar results.

We implemented a number of highly successful programs in the middle school I mentioned above when I was principal. In a three year period, we had more than 150 different schools visit our campus to get information about our successful programs. Many of those educators went home and implemented similar programs. Many applied for grants and used our statistics to strengthen their grant proposals.

Many visitors viewed us as great innovators. They were amazed at our successes with the difficult populations we served. The truth is that we rarely initiated a program on that campus that had not already been proven successful with a similar population in one or more other schools in Texas.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you apply for grant money to help solve a problem at your school. Find a successful school with a population similar to your own and use their successes to help strengthen your own grant proposal. I strongly recommend this approach. I’ve used it myself. It works.

Check This Out! Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Access to Artistic Excellence

Funded by: National Endowment for the Arts

Description: To encourage and support artistic excellence, preserve our cultural heritage, and provide access to the arts for all Americans. This category supports projects that provide short-term arts exposure or arts appreciation for children and youth as well as intergenerational education projects.

Program Areas: Arts

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter Schools, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline: 3/12/09

Average Amount: $5,000.00 - $150,000.00

Website: http://www.nea.gov/grants/apply/Artsed.html

Availability: All States

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Are Your Program Needs?

Many of the people who contact me about getting grant money need a piece of equipment or certain supplies and want to write a grant to secure the needed items.
In other words, they need money.

Applying for grants is not really about just needing money. It has to be about solving a problem. You should apply for grant money to start or enhance a program that will solve a problem for your school or organization. Let’s look at some examples.

You say you need five new computers. My question, and the question of anyone thinking about giving you grant money is, “Why do you need five new computers?”

Do you have five old, outdated ones that are used so much they are barely working?
Do your students have to wait in line to use these computers? Do you have software that you can’t use because the computers are too old to run it?

These are questions asking you what kind of problem you’re trying to solve. When you get ready to request grant money, your application should address those problems you are having and need to alleviate.

You might need five new computers to put in your classroom so students can take Accelerated Reader tests without going to the library. The five computers will help increase your teaching time and provide your students with a better testing atmosphere. This one change could help increase reading scores.

You might need the five new computers in your library because students doing research do not have access to the Internet anywhere else in the building. Classes going to the library currently have to put three students at each computer. By adding five new computers, you can assign two students to each computer making the research experience more meaningful. You should be able to document the individual increase in computer research skills.

You still get the five computers, but you are now solving a specific problem that is likely to have a positive, measurable result. You’re not just asking for money; you’re asking for help to improve your school.

Think of three men standing on a corner near a restaurant. One has a sign asking for $10. Another has a sign asking for $10 to buy food. The third has a sign asking you to take him inside and buy him a meal because he is hungry.
Who will get your $10?

Check This Out! Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Foundations for Learning

Funded by: Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences

Description: The purpose of this program is to support projects to help eligible children become ready for school. Eligibility includes: Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are considered LEAs under State law; local councils; Community Based Organizations (CBOs), including faith-based organizations; other public or nonprofit private entities; or a combination of such entities.

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

Recipients: Public Schools, Charter Schools. Other

Proposal Deadline: 2/24/09

Average Amount: $245,500.00

Contact person: Dana Carr

Phone: 202-245-7868

Email: dana.carr@ed.gov

Website: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-30706.pdf

Availability: All States