Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April & May -- The Perfect Time To Apply for Grants

Spring is a critical time for schools and grant writing. Between now and the end of the school year you should be applying for grants for both summer school and the fall semester. Unfortunately, just when educators should have their keyboards smoking from turning out all those grant applications, many of you are gradually shutting down your grant-writing activities as summer approaches. That's why I think this is a good time for me to review 1) the reasons you should apply for grants in the first place and 2) why spring is an ideal time of year to be doing that.

Why should you apply for grants anyway? It's a lot of work to pull together a grant application. And it's even more work if you're fortunate enough to receive the grant: you have to keep records, prove that you've spent the money properly, and record the results of your program. Even if those results are not positive. So why would you even put yourself through the grant-writing process?

The most immediate and seemingly logical answer to that question is, "For the money, of course." But don't be too hasty with that response. The best, most successful grants are not usually written with just the money in mind. True, money can help move along the change process, but if your purpose for writing grants is truly to better the lives of students and teachers, the chance for success in doing that improves dramatically with a grant program in place.

What challenges are your students facing? What do they need help learning in your school? What behaviors are they exhibiting that might get in the way of achievement? Can your students read at grade level? Can they speak English well enough to live productively in American society? Are your teachers trained well enough to truly educate every child in their classrooms? Get passionate! Write a grant to change lives. That passion and determination will come across in your grant application, and it will show up in the results you eventually achieve.

It's time to write those summer school and fall semester grants now. Don't put it off. Don't shut down early because summer is just around the corner. Get that keyboard humming. Apply for several grants in April and May -- not just for the money, but for the positive change you can affect in the lives of your students and teachers.

Check This Out! Grant Opportunity

Grant Name: Literacy and Education Grants

Funded by: Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation

Description: Literacy and education grants to help children are awarded twice a year for specific programs with measurable outcomes. We desire to provide support for children in literacy and education programs such as summer reading programs, early childhood education programs and literacy programs for children with special needs. The grant request deadlines are at the end of February, May, August, and November.

Program Areas: After-School, Disabilities, Early Childhood, Reading, Special Education

Recipients: Public School, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline: 5/31/2009

Proposal Deadline Description: End May, August, and November for 2009

Average Amount: $1,000.00 - $10,000.00


Availability: All States

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Does Your Campus Need a Grant Committee?

Individual school campuses can often benefit from having a grant committee. Committees can do needs assessments, gather supportive data, and even prepare quality grant applications. While committees can move slowly and get bogged down with mundane issues, they can also be catalysts for great change. If your campus is not receiving grant money each year from at least one or two sources, that may be a sign that you should establish a grant committee.

It's a simple fact that most school districts do not have full-time grant writers. That means grant information coming into the district is handled by someone who has many other duties. Grant information worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a district can sit around unopened for weeks at a time, often until it is too late to apply for the grants in question. It's even worse at the campus level; it is very rare for grant information to filter down from the district to campus level.

Not only will an aggressive grant committee receive all grant correspondence sent to it, members of the committee will also be charged with seeking out grant opportunities that are tailor-made for the campus. By closely tracking grant announcements that come in through the mail, newsletters, and grant databases, grant committees can find dozens of grant opportunities that would otherwise go undetected. Your campus will never get the grant money it needs if it's not aware of all the opportunities available.

A good grant committee can also serve another valuable purpose: it can help assess the needs of the campus. It takes time to survey the faculty and the students, study national and state test scores, evaluate attendance and disciplinary data, and sort through a host of other data. But that data is the very information that can tell schools where problems exist and where grant money can be best directed to result in positive change. A good grant committee can help review the data, recommend helpful programs, and find grants to underwrite the cost of programs.

Finally, the grant committee can either appoint some of its own members to complete grant applications or find a professional grant writer who will work with the committee. If someone within the campus committee is going to write the grants, that person should -- if at all possible -- receive an extra stipend. Almost everyone who works in a school setting already has a full-time job. If a person is going to use nights, weekends, holidays, or summers to write grants, that person should be paid for the effort.

Since few districts and fewer campuses have full-time grant writers, it makes sense to form a grant committee at the campus level. Those committees can receive all correspondence related to grants, assess problem areas that may be addressed with grant money, find appropriate grants for the campus, and include a member(s) who can complete the grant application or oversee a professional grant writer outside the committee.

Check This Out! Grant Opportunity

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, TechnologyRecipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other Proposal Deadline: 5/1/2009 Proposal Deadline Description: Quarterly deadlines are Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1, Nov.1 Average Amount: $500.00 - $5,000.00



Availability: All States