Friday, December 21, 2012

Can You Spare a Few Hours?

I could tell you that you should write a short grant during the holiday break. You’ll probably have a little extra time during the ten days to two weeks that you’re on vacation from school. A lot of grant deadlines are listed for December 31st, so that makes it a good time to write a grant and get it in just under the wire. Also, the competition will be limited, because, let’s face it, how many people will actually get around to applying for a grant during the holiday break?  

Having said all that, I’m not going to recommend that you apply for a grant during your break because you probably wouldn’t do it anyway. I am going to suggest that you take a few hours during your vacation time and do some grant research.

The first research I would do is to examine the mid-term assessments you will likely be administering before the holidays. These assessments could be for the district, a single campus, or even a classroom, but they likely contain information that will help you get grant money for the spring semester or summer school.

Basically, you want to identify two types of programs from your assessments. You want to know the programs you have in place that are not as productive as they should be. You set goals for each program at the beginning of the year. The first thing you are looking for are programs where the students simply are not progressing as they should. They won’t reach their goals by the end of the year. You will need to make changes to those programs early in the spring semester, and you may not have the money to make those changes. If you don’t make changes, you are unlikely to reach your goals. If you make the right changes and get grant money to help you, you just might be able to turn the program around and still meet your goals.

You should also be studying your assessments for another type of program: one that is working remarkably well. If you just keep doing what you’re doing, your students will far surpass the goals you set. But what would happen if you were able to expand that program to other students, other grade levels, or other buildings? Chances are, they would get the same extraordinary results. You can use your assessment data to write a grant to expand your services to those larger groups. This type of assessment data can be very persuasive to grantors if you use it properly and make a thorough analysis of why you are being so successful.

The other research I would do during the holiday break revolves around school grant databases. As you probably know, I am a strong proponent of using grant databases. They save an unbelievable amount of time and effort. Discount School Supply® provides you with an excellent free grant database where you can find grants listed under a wide variety of topics. You need to take a few hours and do a comprehensive search using that database just to see what all is available to you.

You would probably be amazed at the number of grants available, the amount of money available, and how simple some grant applications are to complete. If you are going after grant money for a district, campus, or classroom, knowing the content of the Discount School Supply® database can be invaluable to you. It’s certainly worth a few hours of your time on the Internet to explore everything that’s available.

No, I’m not asking you to spend all your holiday vacation working on one grant application after another. Just do some research so you’re ready to start filling out grant applications when you go back to school. Study those mid-year assessments to find those programs which are failing miserably. Then find the programs that are working remarkably well. Repair the failing programs and expand the ones that are working. And finally, do some research using the Discount School Supply® grant database. It’s free and it’s a perfect resource for finding the grants you need.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Funded by:  Verizon

Description:  The Verizon Innovative App Challenge provides the opportunity for middle school and high school students, working with a faculty advisor, to use their STEM knowledge, their ingenuity, and their creativity to come up with an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community. Each of the 10 winning schools (5 middle school and 5 high school teams) will receive $10,000 cash grants plus professional support and training to help them bring their designs to life by building their apps and bringing them to the marketplace. Students on each winning team will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab and be invited to present their developed apps in person—on their new tablets—at the 2013 National Technology Student Association Conference in Orlando, Florida in June. 

Program Areas:  General Education, Math, Science/Environment

Recipients:  Public School, Private School

Proposal Deadline:  1/18/13

Average Amount:  $10,000.00

Availability:  All States

Grant Name:  Big Help Grants

Funded by:  National Education Association (NEA) Foundation and Nickelodeon

Description:  The NEA Foundation – Nickelodeon Big Help Grants are available in the form of Student Achievement grants to K-8 public school educators. The Big Help Grants program is dedicated to the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing four key concerns – environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement. The grants target these four concerns as areas of great promise in helping develop a sense of global awareness in 21st century students that will encourage and enable them to make a difference in their world. Both the NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon are strongly committed to supporting the development of these skills and attributes for America’s students.

Program Areas:  General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School, Private School

Proposal Deadline:  2/1/13

Average Amount:  $2,000.00 - $5,000.00

Contact Person:  Jesse Graytock, Grants Manager

Availability:  All States

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants

Funded by:  Sodexo Foundation

Description:  More than 16 million children live in food insecure homes, not always sure where their next meal will come from. That’s why YSA and Sodexo Foundation are calling on young people to “take hunger personally” and join the fight to end childhood hunger. Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants of $500 grants are available for youth-led service projects that bring together young people, families, Sodexo employees and other community members to address childhood hunger. U.S. young people, ages 5-25, are eligible to apply. Projects will take place on or around Global Youth Service Day, April 26-28, 2013.

Program Areas:  At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Other

Proposal Deadline:  1/31/13

Average Amount:  $500.00

Contact Person:  Amanda McDonald

Availability:  All States

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grants for Closing Achievement Gaps

In one way or another most grant money is used in an attempt to close achievement gaps between different groups of students. A lot of grants specifically list money as being available primarily to economically disadvantaged students. That, in itself, lets you know that money is designated to help you close achievement gaps. 

Since our great country was partially founded on the principle of giving an equal opportunity to all, it is not unusual that a great deal of grant money given by the federal government, state governments, foundations, and corporations is given to close achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged students and those who are not disadvantaged. While it is not usually stated so overtly, in essence, closing the achievement gap in most schools is an attempt to give all students an equal shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a matter of fact, as a group, those who drop out of school or end their school careers far behind their peers are likely to die younger, commit more crimes, spend more time incarcerated, earn far less, and have more broken homes.

In other words, while a good education does not guarantee you fulfillment of the American dream, the lack of a good education certainly makes it that much harder to achieve. That’s why almost all teachers and principals work their hardest to give every child a good education. That’s also why so many grantors give money to those who are specifically attempting to close the achievement gaps in their districts, their buildings, and in their classrooms.

If most of the students in your district do not achieve anywhere close to the national or state norms, grant money should be readily available. Let me hasten to add, however, that if you have gotten lots of grant money in the past and did little to close the achievement gap between your students and those in other districts, grant money may get harder and harder to come by without some drastic changes in the structure and practices of your district. I believe the warning to grantors is, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Grantors are reluctant to keep spending money when the grant recipients have had little or no success in the past.

If you are looking to close the achievement gap between a campus and other campuses in your district, you should still find plenty of grants available. Again, the key is to show success with your initial grant and that will make it easier if you need to apply for other grant money. This type of achievement gap can be a sore spot for you, especially if your students come from similar neighborhoods and/or from families with similar economic circumstances. If that happens to be the case, it is imperative that you visit other campuses where students are consistently achieving as they should, then do most of the same things they do. If something works, use it. Don’t think that your situation is so unique that you have to invent some new solution to the problem.

Finally, it is a rare classroom that does not have some achievement gaps. These achievement gaps have almost nothing to do with gender or race and everything to do with some students being economically disadvantaged. It’s a safe bet that the class you got from the grade below already had severe achievement gaps from day one. To close these gaps, your disadvantaged students will have to grow at a more rapid rate than those who are not disadvantaged. That may mean they need to spend more time on such things as reading and math, and they need more help in the form of tutoring before or after school. To close the gap, you must provide something that changes their rate of learning so that they can grow at a faster rate than other students. To provide these things, you may need grant money.

I believe the United States is still the finest country on the planet. It can only stay that way if we continue to follow the democratic principles on which it was founded. We must provide an education to all children that allows them to pursue the American dream --- whatever that may be in their eyes. In education, the first step to doing that is to close the achievement gaps between those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are not.

Fortunately, millions of dollars of grant money are spent every year on this very problem. Make sure your school is getting its share of that money and also doing its part to close those achievement gaps.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Fuel Up to Play 60

Funded by:  National Dairy Council and National Football League

Description:  The competitive funding initiative provides money to help schools jump-start and sustain healthy nutrition and physical activity improvements.

Program Areas:  General Education, Health/PE

Recipients:  Public School

Proposal Deadline:  1/15/13

Average Amount:  $1,000.00 - $4,000.00

Telephone:  800-752-4337

Availability:  All States


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Things to Do Before Winter Break

You still have a lot of school days between now and winter break. You want to make absolutely sure that you use them productively. I have listed five activities that should help. Several of these activities relate to getting grant money. All of them relate to being productive at a time when productivity can go out the window if you don’t plan carefully.

Between now and winter break, you may want to consider one or more these activities:
1) Have a read-a-thon. If you are going to do an early release, or if you just have a day or two when students are likely to be very antsy and not want to concentrate on school work, having a read-a-thon can help you calm students and get them to focus on a productive activity. I found classroom read-a-thons very productive as a teacher and school-wide read-a-thons productive as a principal.

2) Make sure you do mid-year testing if your semester ends anywhere close to winter break. Students should have made measurable gains in every program, and you especially need to measure those gains in the programs you funded with grant money. By measuring growth at mid-year, you can make adjustments to your program if the gains are inadequate or enhance your program even more if you find you’re heading in the right direction. Either way, you have to measure the growth your students have made during the first semester to fine tune your program for the second semester.

3) If your district will allow it, sponsor a food drive in your classroom or building. The holiday season is a great time for most families. It is the hardest of times for others. This gives you an opportunity to involve your students and teach them to give to those less fortunate than themselves. We need to teach students more than math and reading.

4) Write a grant or two. You only have about six weeks left to submit a grant that will benefit students during the second semester. If you write a couple of grants now (especially if they are foundation or corporate grants), you should get your money soon enough to impact your students during the second semester. Go past winter break and it becomes harder to get money that will be impactful in the second semester.

5) Form a grant committee, find a grant-writing partner, or hire a grant writer. If you determine that your campus or district needs grant money, and you don’t have a full-time grant writer (which most districts don’t), form a plan to write grants during the second semester. Yes, I know this will not help your students during the spring semester, but at least with this activity out of the way, you can make progress writing grants for summer school and for the fall semester. Planning now can pay great dividends in the future.

There you have it; five activities that will help you and your students have a better holiday season and get more done than you thought possible. Yes, the time between now and winter break can be hectic, but you can make it more calm and more productive if you plan properly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportinity!

Grant Name:  Library Grants

Funded by:  The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries  

Description:  The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries provides print books to the K-12 school libraries and students that need them the most. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to update, extend, and diversify the book collections of school libraries throughout the United States. Grants are made to individual schools rather than to school districts, foundations, or other entities. 
Program Areas:  General Education, Library

Recipients:  Public School

Proposal Deadline:  12/1/12

Average Amount:  $5,000.00

Availability:  All States

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  United States-Japan Foundation Educational Grants

Funded by:  United States-Japan Foundation

Description:  Giving primarily in the U.S. and Japan to promote stronger ties between Americans and Japanese by supporting projects that foster mutual knowledge and education, deepen understanding, create effective channels of communication, and address common concerns in an increasingly interdependent world. The current focus of grant making activities is in the areas of communication/public opinion, precollege education and policy studies.

Program Areas:  Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Math, Reading, Science /Environment, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline:  12/15/12

Average Amount:  $25,000.00 - $50,000.00

Telephone:  212-481-8753



Availability:  All States

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Do This If You Want to Win Grant Money

I spend quite a bit of time on this blog giving you very positive ways to win grant money. Sometimes these are major pieces of information that need to be followed closely. At other times I give smaller hints and tips that will simply set your application apart from others.

In this blog, however, I’d like to give you some guidelines on what not to do if you want to win grant money. If you make these mistakes, you may spend a lot of time filling out a lot of applications and never receive a dime of grant money.

The biggest mistake I see people make is that they ask for grant money for the wrong reasons. This mistake can come in several forms:

1)      You ask for money to go into your general budget without specifying any particular program or use for the money. I don’t know of a single grantor that will give you money just to increase your general fund.

2)      You ask for money for purposes that are almost never funded by grantors:  a band trip, a trip to a foreign country, construction of a new athletic facility, etc. You can apply for these types of things repeatedly. Almost nobody will fund them unless it happens to be a well-funded local entity with a special interest in the program (think kids or grandkids).

3)      You ask for money to keep or create a position which you will just happen to be filling yourself.   You might get a grant to fund a position like this, but it’s a real long shot.

The second largest mistake I see when people apply for grants is simply not properly matching the grant to the grantor. If a grantor only funds science programs, don’t send them an application for a reading program that has nothing to do with science. They’re not going to fund it. They won’t even read the application. I’ve seen people fill out a foundation application and then mail it to a hundred different foundations just hoping they’ll get lucky. They won’t. The application would have to be too generic, and almost all of the applications won’t fit into the guidelines of the grantors. This is one of the main reasons you should use a grant database. Match your grant needs very closely to a few grantors, and then apply only for those grants that closely match your needs.

Finally, the next biggest mistake that I see people make when applying for grants is that they don’t fill out every section of the applications they use. When you skip parts of an application, you almost immediately disqualify your application on a point basis. Competitive grants are almost always scored by grant readers using a certain amount of points for each section. If you don’t complete a section, you are essentially taking yourself out of the competition. 

I’ve seen grants that were given only to those who scored 95 or better on the application. If you left a section blank that was worth 10 points, you automatically removed yourself from the competition.  When completing an application, you must complete every section, and I suggest you complete each section as if it were the only one on the application. That’s the only way you’ll be truly competitive.

I don’t usually approach grant writing from a negative angle, but you at least need to know the biggest mistakes people make when they apply for grants. Make sure you have a good, educational purpose for the grant money you seek. Make sure you match your needs very closely with the purpose of the grantor. Finally, make sure you fill out every section of your grant application.

If you don’t make any of these big mistakes, you have a much better chance of winning the grant money you need.

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Painting A Bright Future

Funded by:  True Value Foundation

Description:  Put a fresh face on your community's school: Apply for a Painting a Brighter Future grant As the economy struggles and education budgets shrink, children all over - many in our own neighborhoods - need our help more than ever to receive the education they deserve in well-maintained environments. For a school in need, even something as simple as a new coat of paint can energize a dreary classroom, inspire teachers and motivate students. That's why, in partnership with True Value retailers, the True Value Foundation provides grants for up to 40 gallons of paint through the Painting a Brighter Future program to more than 100 schools each year. Since 2009, we've covered more than 3 million square feet of classrooms with a fresh coat of assistance. 

Program Areas:  Facilities/Maintenance, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School

Deadline:  11/30/12

Average Amount:  Up to 40 gallons of paint

Availability:  All States

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Project Ignition

Funded by:  The National Youth Leadership Council and State Farm

Description:  Project Ignition, a student-led teen driver safety program funded by State Farm and coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council, has announced the availability of grants for public high schools to help students address teen driver safety through service-learning. The project, now in its ninth year, offers grants to students and their advisors interested in creating awareness campaigns focused on teen driver safety while using service-learning — a teaching method that combines meaningful community service with classroom instruction. Youth-led teams host events, form community-wide partnerships, work on local and state policy, produce public service announcements, and more.

Program Areas:  At-Risk/Character, General Education, Miscellaneous, Safe/Drug Free Schools, Transportation, All Other

Recipients:  Public School

Proposal Deadline:  11/15/2012

Average Amount:  $2,000.00

Telephone:  888-856-7026

Availability:  All States

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October/November: Time to Write Those Grants

Wow!  This school year is zipping by. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. It might be going really quickly for you, or it might seem as slow as molasses. One of my best friends had a schedule so bad and a group of students so unruly one time that he started counting down the days until June on his calendar the first week of school. I guess pretty much everything is relative.

You could say the same for grant writing at any particular time of the year. You should always be looking for your next grant to write regardless of the time of year, but I can think of at least three good reasons that October and November may be just about the best grant-writing months of the year.

First, by this time of the year, whether you’re in a classroom or an administrative position, you should have everything settled into a manageable routine. I’m not saying you’re not busy. You’ll be busy all year. I’m just saying things should not be as hectic as they were at the beginning of school.  That means you should be able to schedule in some grant-writing time.

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you know by this time of the year, you should have already identified one or two problems that need correcting that have in no way been adequately covered in the current budget. You now need to narrow the field down to your most urgent problem, develop a solution complete with a workable budget, use a good grant database to find grants that fit your situation, and start completing grant applications.

Again, I know you’re busy, but finding grant money at this juncture of the year may be as important as anything else you’re doing. It can literally turn a program (and the lives of multiple children) around if done properly.

Another reason that October/November is such a good grant-writing period is that you can still write grants that will impact the current school year. If you win a grant now, you should have the money available to you for the spring semester. You don’t have to wait until next year to have an impact; you can have it now.

You have the added advantage of being able to start writing grants for summer school now, too.

It’s not too early to begin thinking about how you can get weak students caught up in the summer months with a good summer school program. Personally, I would focus my attention on the spring semester (because of the more immediate impact), but writing grants during the fall months allows you the flexibility of also applying for summer program grants

Finally, writing grants during October and November allows you to choose from the thousands and thousands of grants that are available this time of year. I believe more grants are announced in the fall than at any other time of the year. You need to take advantage of that fact.

Of course, you will have more competition when applying for grants this time if year, but believe me, there are plenty of grants to go around. Don’t put all your hopes on one or two grant applications.  Crank out as many as you can with the time that you have. The more quality applications you send out, the more likely you are to win grant money. It’s all a matter of numbers, and I wouldn’t want you to put all your hopes into getting one big grant and then be disappointed when you don’t get it.

October/November is prime grant-writing time. You should have a little more time to invest right now than you did at the beginning of school. You can write grants for either the spring semester or summer school. You have more grants available than at any other time of the year. Those are three good reasons you should be applying for multiple grants in the next six weeks.

Let’s get going.

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Mathematics Course Work Scholarships for Grades PreK-5 Teachers

Funded by:  The Dale Seymour Fund and NCTM
Description:  The purpose of this grant is to provide financial support for improving teachers’ understanding of mathematics by completing course work in mathematics. For 2013–2014, scholarships with a maximum of $2,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching at the grades PreK–5 level. Primary emphasis is placed on appropriate mathematics content courses. Mathematics education courses may also qualify if a suitable rationale is furnished by the applicant. Proposals must address the following: rationale for the coursework, anticipated instructional improvements and expected impact on student learning outcomes.

Program Areas:  General Education, Math

Recipients:  Public School

Proposal Deadline:  11/9/12

Average Amount:  $1,000.00 - $2,000.00


Availability:  All States

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Kinder Morgan Foundation Education Grants

Funded by:  Kinder Morgan Foundation

Description:  Grants are primarily directed to educational programs for youth in grades K-12. Funding is provided to local, state, provincial and regional educational institutions, libraries and programs that provide ongoing support, such as Junior Achievement. The foundation also supports youth programs provided by local arts organizations, symphony orchestras, museums and others. Initial approach is to contact the foundation for application form, which is required.

Program Areas:  Arts, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Library, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Other

Proposal Deadline:  11/10/12

Average Amount:  $1,000.00 - $25,000.00

Availability:  All States