Monday, April 30, 2012

Get Ready for Summer Vacation

No, I’m not going to recommend an Internet travel agency or list possible islands in the Caribbean that you may want to visit. I do my best to stay on task and help you have the best possible grant program that you can have. So, I’ll leave the travel tips to someone else.

The last few weeks of school are always tough. Unless you happen to be one of the few full-time grant writers in schools around the country, writing grants is probably pretty low on your agenda right now. If you are going to get anything accomplished to help you get grants in the near future, I would definitely put my time and energy into making sure you get good, honest assessments of your current programs as I suggested in my last blog post. The information you get from those assessments is absolutely vital to the grants you will write in the summer and the fall.  

Once you get those assessments completed, scored, and have a copy of all the reports, it’s time to sit down with colleagues and pinpoint the weakest academic areas in your district, campus, or classroom. Don’t look at your results with preconceived notions. Just read the data and be sure you have everything disaggregated by class, by gender, by socio-economic status, by teacher, by subject, etc. In other words, you need that data sliced and diced fifty different ways, broken down to such an extent that you can pinpoint your problem areas easily and quickly.

Who knows what the data will tell you? They may tell you that only 10% of your 5th graders who were absent 15 days or more passed your state reading test. They may tell you that one particular style of teaching math was 35% more effective in reaching low socio-economic students than another style. The data may show you that longer periods of students reading independently in appropriate level books had a more positive effect than using a thousand worksheets each year. They may also tell you that you need to order a lot more library books.

Again, don’t be prejudiced going in. Let the data lead you to logical conclusions. It is very helpful if you can look at the results of your assessments in small groups. It is also helpful to assess the data before you go into summer vacation if at all possible. That gives you time to agree on your problem areas and to do some of your grant writing during the summer break.

It’s okay to look at the data in the first part of the summer if you can get everyone back together, but if you wait until the fall, everyone is going to be extremely busy at the first of the new semester. Chances are you won’t write grants in time to get grant money during the fall semester, and that means the grant money can’t be used to help your students until the spring.

That timeline is simply not acceptable. Review your data in May or June. List your problems in order of priority. Assign someone to collect all the available information needed to complete a grant proposal and apply for at least some of the grants you need during the summer.

Chances are you won’t do that unless you finish your assessments, get them scored and disaggregated, and determine the major problems you have. You might even have time using a good grant database to find the grantors you need before school is out.

No, I won’t help you find the ideal spot for a summer vacation, but I will try to help you get ready to be a successful summer grant writer. It won’t take up much of your vacation if you lay the proper groundwork now.

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Sol Hirsch Education Fund Grants

Funded by:  National Weather Association

Description:  Sol Hirsch Education Fund Grants are awarded annually to teachers/educators of grades K-12 to help improve the education of their students, school and/or community in the science of meteorology.

Program Areas:  Science/Environmental

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Other

Proposal Deadline:  6/1/2012

Average Amountf:  $750.00

Availability:  All States

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  Humana Foundation Grants

Funded by:  The Humana Foundation, Inc

Description:  Education support with no geographical limitations. Program provides financial assistance to the children of employees of Humana Inc., who plan to pursue a college degree. The foundation also supports the arts and library sciences. No support for political, non-school, or religious organizations. No grants for start up needs.

Program Areas:  Arts, Early Childhood, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE, Library 

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Higher Education

Proposal Deadline:  6/15/2012

Average Amount:  $5,000.00 - $75,000.00

Contact Person:  Barbara Wright

Telephone:  502-580-3613


Availability:  All States

Friday, April 13, 2012

Are You Assessing or Obsessing?

I know that I talk a lot about assessments when this is actually a blog about grants. However, if you really understand grants and the grant application process, you know that good, comprehensive assessment is a vital part of any grant program.

Every program and every class is your school should have a thorough assessment done before the end of the school year. You may assess progress in any given program using a nationally-normed test, a state test, a campus, or teacher-made test, or a combination of these.  It doesn’t really matter what the process is. The bottom line, as far as grants go, is that you have to know where your students started the year and how much progress they’ve made during the course of the year. You can only do that by properly assessing each of your programs.
When you get the results from your assessments, you should be able to quickly spot the problem areas in your school. When you know those problems and exactly how large they are, you can then begin to develop plans to eliminate or remediate those problems. But, here’s the rub. Even if you identify your problems, are you going to have the funds in your budget to do the things you need to do to solve all of your problems?  If you don’t, then you’re going to need to apply for grant money.

When you start completing grant applications, your assessments come into play again. On your application, you can show the grantor how you determined that you had a problem and just how severe yours problem are. You then explain exactly what you need to do to alleviate the problem and how their grant money will be used to make the needed changes and improvements. If you don’t have good, solid data from your assessment instrument, you end up talking in generalities while your competitors will be using specifics.
Most grantors also require you to include your assessment process in your grant proposal. They want to know where your students started, how much growth you got using their grant funds, and the instrument you used to determine this growth.

This whole funding, assessment, and growth process is probably the closest a school will come to mirroring other types of businesses. Using the proper assessment tools, you can determine exactly how much money you spent to obtain the months or years of growth you gained. Good programs make a profit (high growth on the part of students). Poor programs have a loss (little or no progress for the money spent).
The reason I am mentioning assessments again now is that as we close in on the end of the current school year. Each of your programs should be assessed properly. You should determine exactly how much growth each student demonstrates. From these assessments you will get much needed statistical information that you can use in a grant application, and you will have a benchmark of exactly where students are at this point in the school year.

Your assessments should be given toward the end of the school year to allow as much growth to be demonstrated as possible. It should not be so close to the end of the year, however, that students cannot concentrate or do their best on the assessment instrument.

Assessments are a vital part of any grant program.  Make sure that every program in your school receives a proper assessment before you leave for the summer.

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/Environmental, Social Studies

Recipients:  Public School, Private School, Other

Proposal Deadline:  5/10/2012  

Average Amount:  $3,500.00 - $5,000.00

Contact Person:  Maureen Bulkley, Community Relations Coordinator

Telephone:  303-763-3471

Availability:  All States

Check It Out: New Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name:  ING Run for Something Better School Grant

Funded by:  ING Run for Something Better and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)

Description:  ING Run For Something Better, in partnership with NASPE, has developed a school-based running program. Each year, the ING Run For Something Better National School Awards program provides a minimum of 50 grants (of up to $2,500 each) to schools that wish to establish a school-based running program or expand an existing one. Through activity plans created by NASPE, the awards program offers children a healthy start to life and fosters their desire to exercise before obesity begins.

 Program Areas:  Health/PE

 Recipients:  Public School, Private School

 Proposal Deadline:  5/15/2012, applications available on line

 Average Amount:  $2,500.00

 Availability:  All States