Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Good Time To Write Grants: Summer Vacation

I have a true appreciation for the value of summer vacation. I was, after all, an educator for twenty years. It's a great time to relax with your family and recharge your batteries. It's a time for reading good books, lying on a beach somewhere, or heading to a resort or spa. But summer vacation is also an excellent time to apply for grants for your classroom, campus, or district.

Why should you spend part of your summer vacation applying for grants? There are many reasons. First and foremost, there is less competition for grants because most educators don't give up their vacation time to write grants for their schools. Less competition means a greater chance of getting a grant request funded. It's a simple arithmetic: the number of grants is static and fewer people are applying. Your chances of being funded go up.

While there are quite a few state and federal grants available at this time of year, most foundation grants have at least one of their deadlines during the summer months. That means you can apply for those foundation grants before the summer deadline, be awarded the grant, and have the grant money available for the fall semester.

You might also want to look for foundation grants that have no deadlines. Since there are no specific deadlines, almost all educators will apply for them between September and May. When you apply for this type of grant during the summer, you could stand a greater chance of winning grant money because there is so much less competition.

Since foundation grant applications are much shorter and simpler than state or federal applications, you could apply for several foundation grants in the same time it would take to apply for just one state or federal grant. The more applications you submit, the greater your chances of winning grant money.

One other reason educators should write grants in June, July, and August is that there are far fewer distractions during the summer. Since very few districts have full-time grant writers, almost any educator applying for grants during the school year has many other responsibilities. Since grant writing is not that person's primary responsibility, it makes it easy to procrastinate or put grant writing off entirely. On the other hand, the summer vacation period is more relaxed for most educators. It is so much easier to write successful grants when you don't have competing responsibilities and can concentrate on one job at a time.

I'm not suggesting you spend your entire summer vacation in an office applying for one grant after another. Instead, take a couple of days each week or a couple of weeks during the summer and apply for several grants. Come fall or the second semester when you have that extra grant money to improve your programs, you'll be glad you did.


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