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.