Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Be Aggressive: Use a Grant Database

I worry about schools not being aggressive enough about finding the grants they need. The budget shortfalls these days are just too critical to ignore. Schools are cutting, cutting, cutting, yet they often don’t seem to understand that an aggressive grant-writing program can do a lot to add money to the system without having to raise local or state taxes.

You can tell if your district is aggressively looking for grants. Ask these questions: Do you have one or more full-time grant writers on your district staff? Do you subscribe to a large grant database that provides timely information about available grants, or do you just sit back and wait for grant announcements to come in the mail? Is grant information made available to all teachers and principals in the district so they can apply for their classrooms and campuses? Do you have a grant committee that meets regularly and looks for applicable grants?

Grant money doesn’t appear out of thin air. You have to have a vision of what that grant money will do for your students and then go out and work for it. It doesn’t matter if you are responsible for a classroom, a campus, or a district. Grant money is available out there in some form, but you do have to spend the time to find it, apply for it, and use it to the greatest benefit of your students. If you are using Google to find grants, you’re just pretending to look for grants. If you’re serious, you have to use a good, comprehensive school grant database.

You are extremely fortunate if you are a registered user of the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply. For the categories that it lists, you can be sure that the listings are comprehensive and up-to-date. If you need grants in other categories, your best bet is to subscribe to The School Funding Center Grant Database. Its only advantage is that it lists thirty grant categories, and it, too, is both comprehensive and current.

Regardless of which database you choose to use, you should really spend some time searching it thoroughly. You should do enough research to determine which grants truly match the problems you are having at your school. From the database, go to the grantor’s website. Read about their mission, exactly what they support, and how much money they give. Even call them to discuss your problem or project if you think it’s appropriate and want to make sure you have a match.

This is a perfect time to look for grants. Students are out for summer vacation, and you don’t have the distractions you would normally have to weather. As we approach the fall semester, more and more grants will be listed in these grant databases. Don’t let others apply and get the money that should come to your school.

Yes, times are tough. Budgets are being cut every day. Probably the only way your school will be able to keep up is through a very aggressive campaign to write grants at the district, the campus, and the classroom levels. Do your part. Start searching those grant databases for the money that you and your school need.

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