Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is There Any Grant Money Still Available?

Is grant money drying up because of the recession? Without hesitation, I can definitely say, "No, it is not." I know that for a fact because the Discount School Supply free grant database currently lists more grants than ever. Thousands of grants are available to all types of schools, but grant seekers need to understand the different types of grants that are available and where to look for them.

There are three basic types of competitive grants:1) federal grants, 2) state grants, and 3) foundation or private grants. "Competitive" means that each grant offering begins with a total amount of money, schools apply for a portion of that money, and the schools with the greatest need and the best applications are awarded the grant money for which they applied. In other words, you have to compete for the money available. Some schools win the grant money, some don't.

While many educators were afraid that federal grant money would virtually disappear because of the deteriorating economy, the exact opposite is true. The word is out that spending for education may very well be the one topic on which Democrats and Republicans can agree. Within the next few months, and continuing through the next several years, expect to see a large number of federal grant announcements. Information on those grants is often sent to your district's central office, so you may have to use your own initiative to find information about new federal grants.

As far as state grants are concerned, it is true that many states are having a difficult time financially and may not have a lot of money to fund grants. The fact is, however, that quite a bit of federal grant money is actually distributed through your state education agency. Regardless of your state's financial problems, you will still see an increase in state grants as each state is given the task of dispersing a portion of the large amount of federal grant money that will become available. Again, information on these grants is typically sent to your district's central office. If you're not in the central office, you may have to track down news of these grants yourself.

Finally, most of the thousands of foundations that give grant money to schools will continue to do so. For one thing, they are required to give a certain amount of grant money each year in order to keep their tax-exempt status. While it is true that some foundations may give less money than they have given in the past, they will still be sponsoring grants at some level while other foundations will grant more than ever before. Unfortunately, foundations do not typically advertise their grant programs. You have to search out these opportunities in a grant database or find them on the Internet.

If you are interested in applying for grant money for your school, you will be applying for federal grants, state grants, or foundation grants. Take it from someone who keeps his ear close to the ground, grant money is still definitely available and may very well increase in the near future. Who gets all that grant money? Schools that concentrate first on getting comprehensive information about each grant as soon as it is announced will get their share. Schools that write good, strong, competitive grant proposals well before the deadline will get their share. And schools that consistently and persistently apply for grants -- month after month, year after year -- will get their share. By doing all of those things, you can make sure your school gets its share of available grants, too.

Check it Out! Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Books for Children Grants
Funded by: The Libri Foundation

Description: The Foundation supports the concept that children who learn to enjoy reading at an early age continue to read throughout their lives. In order to develop a love of reading, children must have access to books which stretch their imaginations, touch their emotions, expand their horizons. The Foundation works with the library's Friends of the Library or other local organizations because we believe in community involvement and want to encourage and reward local support of libraries. The Friends, or other local sponsors, can contribute from $50 to $350 which the Foundation matches on a 2-to-1 ratio. Thus, a library can receive up to $1,050 worth of new, quality, hardcover children's books through the Foundation's "Books for Children" program.

Program Areas: After-School, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Early Childhood, Library, Reading
Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other
Proposal Deadline: 4/15/2009
Proposal Deadline Description: Jan. 23, April 15 and Aug. 15; annual deadlines
Contact Person: Ms. Barbara J. McKillip, President
Address: P.O. Box 10246, Eugene, OR 97440
Telephone: 541-747-9655
Email: libri@librifoundation.org
Website: http://www.librifoundation.org/#GUIDE
Availability: All States

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Way To Strengthen Your Grant Proposal

When a grant reader feels that your grant project is likely to successfully address your school's problems, your application will normally rank high among their list of finalists. Last time, I discussed referencing a school with a similar population and a similar problem as a model for your own grant program. That is one way to strengthen your grant application.

Another somewhat similar way to strengthen your grant proposal is to use a successful pilot program in your own school as a model for a larger program funded by grant money. To do this, you obviously have to do two things first: 1) set up a pilot program that addresses the issue you have identified in your school, and 2) make sure it is successful and can be replicated on a larger scale.

Let me give you an example: When I became a middle school principal, our math scores were poor, especially at the seventh-grade level. After examining many alternatives, we decided that the Saxon Math program would benefit our students. On average, our seventh-graders were almost two years behind according to their standardized math scores. We didn't have a lot of money to spend to fix the problem, so we decided to pilot the Saxon Math program in one classroom. At that time, Saxon had a pilot program of their own that gave us 15 math books for a classroom when we purchased 15 books at the regular price.

We made sure that the pilot classroom was representative of our larger population. We made sure all of the classes were taught in a similar fashion except the pilot class that used the Saxon Math program exclusively. And we closely monitored results throughout the year. When our students were retested in the spring, the progress of the pilot class was far superior to the other classes. In fact, they had almost erased their two-year lag.

You may not agree with using the Saxon Math program. At the time it was fairly controversial. That's not the point. The point is that it worked for us as a pilot program, and we were then able to use that success in a grant application that netted us thousands and thousands of dollars to implement the program in all our other math classrooms. It worked very well there, too. We knew it would based on the results of our pilot program.

We used our pilot for math, but you can use a pilot program for anything: early childhood, discipline, reading, science, PE, or social studies. The subject of the pilot doesn't matter, but your pilot should be representative of the population with the problem, and it must be scalable. If it is, and you can show success with it for at least a semester, you have a very good chance of getting grant money to expand your program.

You can strengthen your grant application by referencing the success of a program in a similar school with similar problems, but the best way to strengthen your grant proposal is with the results of a successful pilot program in your own school. This method takes a little longer to develop, but it almost assures those who evaluate your grant proposal that your expanded program using grant funds will be successful.

Check This Out! Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Captain Planet Foundation Education Grants

Funded by: The Captain Planet Foundation

Description: The foundation supports projects that: 1) Promote understanding of environmental issues; 2) Focus on hands-on involvement; 3) Involve children and young adults 6-18 (elementary through high school); 4) Promote interaction and cooperation within the group; 5) Help young people develop planning and problem solving skills; 6) Include adult supervision; 7) Commit to follow-up communication with the foundation (specific requirements are explained once the grant has been awarded).

Program Areas: Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients: Public Schools, Other

Proposal Deadline: 3/31/09

Average Amount: $250.00 - $2,500.00

Contact: Taryn Murphy

Telephone: 404-522-4270

E-mail: tarynm@captainplanetfdn.org

Website: http://www.captainplanetfoundation.org/

Availability: All States