Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Do I Go To Look for Grants?

You should be looking for grants right now. The way most state finances are currently shaping up, there are likely to be many state budget shortfalls. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for schools anywhere in the country. One of the best ways to overcome fewer dollars from the state is to actively apply for grants at the district, campus, and classroom levels. It’s not the ideal way to fund new programs or ones that need revamping, but it sure beats not having the money that you need.

I have a mantra when it comes to looking for grants. Spend your time completing grant applications, not looking for grants. You need to be able to find all available grants quickly and easily. You then need to be able to match your needs with the available grants, again quickly and easily. There is only one way to find grants and match them to your needs this way – by using a comprehensive grant database.

Several school grant databases are available to you. Without a doubt your first choice should be to use the free school grant database provided by Discount School Supply. You can use it by going to and putting in your email address.

This database is comprehensive for the areas it covers and includes federal, state, foundation, and corporate grants. It lists grants in the areas of: After-School, Arts, Early Childhood, Migrant, Professional Development, Reading, Science/Environment, and Special Education. If you are looking for grants in any of these areas, this is by far your best choice for two major reasons. It is comprehensive and it’s free.

If you need grant information for areas other than those listed above, I recommend going to The School Funding Center. Their database lists thirty different categories from which to choose, and it is also comprehensive in that it lists every federal, state, foundation, and corporate grant in each area. The one drawback to using The School Funding Center database is that it is subscription-based and costs several hundred dollars per year to use.

If you are just looking for federal grants and do not plan to use either of the databases above, I recommend that you use It lists federal grants available to schools in any category. It is not as easy to use as the two databases above, but it lists all federal grants, and it is free.

If you are looking specifically for state grants, you should go to your state education agency website. Some states that fund a lot of grants have a searchable grant database. If your state sponsors only a few grants each year, the site may simply list the grants that are available.

Finally, if you are searching strictly for foundation grants, you might want to use The Foundation Center. It has a comprehensive listing of foundation grants available to schools as well as other organizations. It also is subscription-based and can cost several hundred dollars per year to use.

So here’s the long and short of it. You need to be looking for district, campus, and classroom grant money now because many state budgets will cut the amount of money sent to schools this year. Your best bet is to use the Discount School Supply grant database because it is comprehensive in the areas that it covers and it is free.

If you can’t find the grants you need there, you should move through the list of available grant databases I have listed above until you find the grant or grants that matches your school’s needs. Do this now so you will have the money you need when the fall semester begins.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: 2011 ING Unsung Heroes®

Funded by: ING North America Insurance

Corporation Description: Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Do you know a teacher looking for grant dollars? ING Unsung Heroes® could help you turn great ideas into reality for students. For more than 10 years, and with $3.0 million in awarded grants, ING Unsung Heroes has proven to be an A+ program with educators. The program’s “alumni” have inspired success in the classroom and impacted countless numbers of students. Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those are chosen to receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.

Program Areas: Disabilities, Early Childhood, General Education, Health/PE, Library, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Special Education, TAG, Technology Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter Schools Proposal

Deadline: 4/30/11

Average amount: $2,000.00 - $25,000.00


Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Shade Structure Program

Funded by: American Academy of Dermatology

Description: The American Academy of Dermatology's Shade Structure Program awards grants in the amount of $8,000 each for the purchase of permanent shade structures designed to provide shade and ultraviolet (UV) ray protection for outdoor areas. The AAD also provides a permanent sign to be displayed near the shade structure that promotes the importance of sun safety. The AAD receives support for this program from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co.

Program Areas: Facilities/Maintenance, Health/PE, Science/Environment

Recipients: Public Schools, Other Proposal

Deadline: 4/22/2011

Average Amount: $8000.00


Availability: All States

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Should Principals and Teachers Apply for Grants?

Last time I wrote about forming grant committees at a campus and district level. I want to talk a little more about grants at the campus level – campus and classroom grants. I believe more and more schools need to write these smaller grants in order to supplement declining budgets.

Grants don’t have to be huge to make a difference. Target has given out 5,000 field trip grants worth $5,000,000 each year for the last couple of years. Each grant is only $500.00, but field trips are also one of the first items that schools routinely cut from their budgets. It is not unusual for local Wal-Mart managers to hand out $500 - $1,000 grants locally for special school or community foundation projects. Neither grant is a large amount of money, but $500 - $1,000 at the right time can make a huge difference for a campus or classroom project.

It is unfortunate that some districts won’t allow principals and teachers to apply for grants. Some grants require the district to continue funding a program once the grant money runs out. When principals and teachers apply for these types of grants without informing the district of the continued obligation, it can really get sticky. Normally, the local school board must approve the money to continue a grant program. Because of the problems such a scenario can cause, some districts simply refuse to allow teachers and principals to apply for grants.

I believe a much better way to handle this situation is for central administration to have a review process wherein principals and teachers can apply for grants, but they must have the prior approval of the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or the district’s grant coordinator depending on the size of the district. Once a district administrator has signed off on a grant, that removes the element of surprise once grant money starts arriving, or it’s time for the district to continue funding a program when grant funds are depleted.

I would never say that all of the shortfalls in today’s budgets can be made up by writing campus or classroom grants, but I do think they can help. They can also get teachers and campus administrators more involved in the funding process. It’s a great feeling to help your campus find and win money that helps to improve instruction.

When I was the principal of a small middle school (500 students) in Northeast Texas, we were able to bring in more than $300,000 in a 3-year period in grant and partnership money. My teachers never spent their own money for supplies. We always had money to improve programs or to try new ones. None of that $300,000 came from our regular budget. It was money over and above the money the district gave us.

The principals and teachers at your campus may not be able to bring in that much money. On the other hand, you might be able to bring in much more than that. I can tell you this. If you never write a grant, form a partnership with a local business, or do any kind of fundraising, you won’t bring in any extra money to supplement your budget. You have to take action.

You might say that grant writing is not your job. Maybe it’s not. As a principal, I always thought our campus should do anything we possibly could to give our students a better education. I hope you believe that, too. Winning campus and classroom grants can supply you with more money, and it can also give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: It's All About The Fruit Grant

Funded by: Jamba Juice and the National Gardening Association

Description: Passionate about supporting schools and communities by promoting health, wellness and physical activities, Jamba Juice is sponsoring the It’s All About the Fruit grant program to provide schools with fruit trees to create engaging nutrition and gardening experiences. Observing and exploring fruit production gives a deeper understanding and appreciation for this essential element of our diet. Recipients will be selected based on plans to promote nutrition education, ideas for incorporating fruit tree activities into the curriculum, and ability to sustain the program over multiple years. The grant is open to schools and community garden programs in the United States gardening with at least 15 children between the ages of 3 and 18. 20 recipients will receive fruit trees valued at $500 and the Jamba Juice It’s All About the Fruit Youth Garden Guide. Trees will be selected based on recommended varieties for each area.

Program Areas: Science/Environmental

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter School

Proposal Deadline: 4/11/11

Average amount: $500.00


Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Academic Enrichment Grants

Funded by: McCarthy Dressman Education Foundation

Description: The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation offers Academic Enrichment Grants designed to develop in-class and extra-curricular programs that improve student learning. The Foundation considers proposals that foster understanding, deepen students' knowledge, and provide opportunities to expand awareness of the world around them. The Academic Enrichment Grants provide funding for programs that nurture the intellectual, artistic and creative abilities of children from low-income households. The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation awards grants to individuals in amounts up to $10,000 per year for a maximum of three years, provided the eligibility requirements continue to be met.

Program Areas: After-School, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies

Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other

Proposal Deadline: 4/15/11

Average Amount: $10,000.00



Availability: All States

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Perfect Time for a Grant Committee

I’ve written a time or two on this blog about forming grant committees. This is the perfect time for you to form your own grant committee at the campus or district level if you don’t already have one. If you do already have one, make sure it’s functioning properly.

Unfortunately, the fiscal climate for schools does not seem to be getting much better. Every superintendent I’ve heard from lately speaks of little else besides budget shortfalls and tightening budgets. One of the only ways many districts will be able to increase expenditures next year or even keep their budgets at the same level will be through an infusion of grant money. If you are in one of those districts and anticipate that you will need money on a district, campus, or even a classroom level, you need to be making plans now in order to win the grant money you need.

Most grants are competitive. To be able to submit grant applications that will be funded, your school must understand its most pressing problems, gather statistical information to prove you have problems, develop solutions to these problems, and develop budgets to remedy these problems. It doesn’t matter if your problem is an increasing gap in test scores between at-risk students and those who are not, an alarming decline in your reading scores, or increasing truancy numbers. You must define these problems, find solutions, and finance those solutions.
Good grant committees can do all of these things and much, much more. A grant committee can help define a school’s problems and use a comprehensive grant database to match grantors with those problems. Committees can find outside grant-writing help, fund the training of district or campus personnel in grant writing, or even have individuals or teams of committee members fill out grant applications.

While it is true that poor grant committees can slow the entire process down and get little accomplished, good grant committees tend to quickly focus on major problems, do intensive searches to find appropriate grants, and find grant writers who work quickly and efficiently to produce quality grant applications well before the grantors’ deadlines.

No more than 10-15% of all school districts in the United States have full-time grant writers. Almost no individual campuses have them. If you don’t have a full-time grant writer (and maybe even if you do), you need a grant committee to assess needs, find appropriate grants, and to assign someone to apply for those grants.

As school funding gets tighter over the next year or two, grant money will become more and more important to your district and your campus. I suggest that you form an active grant committee now.

Yes, times are tough. Grant money is becoming more and more important to schools everywhere. Get ahead of the game and ahead of the competition by forming your grant committee this week, not later than this month. Meet often at first. Assess those problems. Find grants that will fund your solutions. Get those grant applications in the mail in March, April, May, and throughout the summer.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Educator Grants and Scholarship

Funded by: Air Force Association

Description: The Air Force Association (AFA) helps provide educational opportunities for America’s youth. These opportunities were initiated to help ensure that future generations of Americans: * Appreciate the important role of aviation and space in America’s future * Have the technical knowledge necessary to understand aerospace issues * Have the educational background required to pursue aerospace careers To accomplish their educational goals, the AFA communicates directly with the American public about the importance of maintaining a sound aerospace infrastructure and the importance of maintaining a strong Air Force to ensure national security. Another important part of their educational efforts is to support the educational objectives of the Air Force and CAP. As part of that support, the AFA recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of aerospace education. To support CAP’s aerospace education programs, the AFA provides aerospace education grants for Civil Air Patrol units. Since 1996, the AFA has provided over $240,000 to CAP units and teachers to help fund their aerospace education programs.

Program Areas: Science/Environment

Recipients: Public School

Proposal Deadline: 3/31/11

Average Amount: $250.00


Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Funded by: National Science Foundation

Description: The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Enacted by Congress in 1983, this program authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. The jurisdictions are Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). The teachers are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning and their ability to help students make progress in mathematics and science. In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the award program is to exemplify the highest standards of mathematics and science teaching. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Program Areas: Math, Science/Environmental, Technology

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter School

Proposal Deadline: 4/1/11

Average amount: $10,000.00



Availability: All States