There are certain application mistakes that new grant writers make.
I’ve listed five of them for you, take a look and see if they apply to you:
- Too ambitious, too much work proposed
- Unfocused aims, unclear goals
- Uncertain future directions (sustainability)
- Describing your project
- Demonstrating organizational capability
When a grant application crosses your desk, it’s tempting to see just the dollar signs. You are embarking on a project, one that may take several years to complete. You may not be successful the first time out. A few words of advice, don’t despair. The grantor needs to know you can be a reliable promoter of their goals and objectives. Wait, their goals, you say?
Title IIA, Educator Quality is a federal grant program designed to assist school districts in the huge task of developing and delivering quality professional development programs to their teachers. Title IIA is funding that is awarded from the US Government to the states, then allocated to the school districts within each state based on district demographics. The purpose of the grant has undergone subtle changes over the years; the current thrust is improving academic achievement by recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified teachers.
Title IIA is a product of NCLB and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Act requires all teachers of core academic subjects to demonstrate teacher quality compliance. The federal definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT):
- teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree,
- be appropriately licensed by the state, and
- demonstrate subject matter competency.
The Perkins Grant is a federal grant program designed to assist vocational schools. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education grant is funding that is awarded from the US Government to the states, then allocated to vocational schools within each state based on student population numbers. A school’s vocational program must be eligible to apply. Schools must be certified by the state to run vocational programs.
This grant is available in the Spring, usually late March for submissions to be accepted by the state vocational education liaison for final approval. The award year runs from July 1 – June 30 of the following year.
Carl D. Perkins (1912-1984) was a lawyer and politician from Hindman, Kentucky. His support to education and the under-privileged is demonstrated by the federal student legislation named for him. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 provides federal money for career technical education. He was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-first Congressional district and served from January 3, 1949, until his death in 1984.
These days, we all know of homeless children in our schools. However, you may not know about federal funds available to help your district find, document, and track the children who don’t fall into the traditional family household scenario.
There are many different categories of homelessness.
Homelessness means (National Center for Homeless Education):
- individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
- children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
- children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings…
- children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
- migratory children who qualify as homeless because of the circumstances listed above.
I’ve heard people say, “libraries are dead”. They scoff and say, “I can look up anything I want on the Internet, and I can download many books for free.”
School libraries will never be dead. It’s not just about checking out books to kids on Tuesday in 4th period. Your Library Media Specialist is certified as a teacher as well as a librarian. Many people don’t know that. A good school library is a center for lifelong learning, and there has never been a more important time for the library to thrive. How will students know how to sort through resources to find the ones that are useful and true? Library Media Specialists are specially trained to teach kids how to use the Internet in a useful and responsible way.
The best way to approach a grant for libraries is to link its programs and services to curriculum and show that this facility is attached at the hip to the entire school community. Your library is the place where teachers will bring their students to find reference material and literature to match their subject area. If you have after school programs to support the areas of the curriculum that need improvement, build off those programs in the library. Make the library the hub of activity for special programs, including professional development. If you think library, you’ll be guided to its physical needs very quickly.
Congratulations, you’ve been asked to write a grant for your school. Someone obviously has faith in your writing skills and stick-to-itiveness. This article is about the writing process, budgets and other nitty gritty details will be covered in other articles.
There are five main things to do when you write your grant narrative:
- Research your school district demographics-
- Every grantor wants to know about your school. They have an agenda, some area of schooling they want to influence. You need to find out all about your school community with statistics to back it up. Census data is important; you can find detailed data at the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics). Once you have detailed the characteristics of your community, including poverty numbers and test results to support your needs, keep the description on file. You’ll use it in every grant application.
- Continue reading
Whether you sought this job, or you fell into it by accident (don’t laugh, that’s what happened to me), you are now the designated school grant writer. If you’re like me, you want to do it well, there’s no point in doing a job half way. You’ve been working with other school leaders to prepare a brand identity for your school, how about a brand for yourself?
You may aspire to becoming a bona fide school administrator, with an office downtown and responsibilities to go with it. A helpful tip is to go back to school and get a master’s in educational administration. It will pay for itself in fairly short order. It will help you develop a mindset that lets you see the big picture, something you need to do to be a good grant writer and administrator. And it’s a good major for education junkies like me.
I’ve written about using social media in your overall school marketing campaign, but it deserves updating. Your school is a brand; you need to develop positive brand awareness among community and governmental grant contacts. You want to be the Band-Aid™ of the school market with a name so recognizable that it stands on its own with dignity and character. This effort will take time, and you need to employ every strategy to make it happen.
I assume your school has a first rate website. Don’t settle for just the node on your district’s main site that has a cookie cutter template for each school in the district. I mean a unique, individual site that establishes your brand beyond the district presence. Create the site with the approval of your school superintendent and district technology personnel. They may not let you “go rogue” and to have your own image. With careful planning and agreements about restricting content to district approved subjects, you should be able to launch a new site.
I’ve written many articles about private and corporate foundations and the world of good they have been doing for schools in our country. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, though controversial, is one of those sources of funds.
If you watch streaming TV, you’ve seen “Breaking Bad” with Walter White, dying chemistry teacher who becomes a drug manufacturer (long story). You will recall the conundrum he faced when trying to get rid of all the money, bags and barrels of it. Likewise, a company like Microsoft may face some similar challenges.
Bill Gates left his job as head of the company in 2000. That same year he established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, so he could pursue interests outside the software industry. The Foundation provides grants for many useful projects like eliminating malaria, but they have also defined a role as a change agent in public education.
Besides being a grants manager, I have also been a Library Media Specialist. In fact, if I’m really honest with myself, my heart belongs in the library. Contrary to popular opinion, libraries are not dead; in fact, they are becoming more relevant every day as the huge ocean of digital information appears online. Someone has to index it all, and make it more accessible to the public. Enter the librarian!
I try to stay abreast of educational research, when you’re writing grants it’s important to be aware of trends in how we view academic achievement. We are always looking for ways to improve learning, especially among vulnerable populations. That’s why a paper in the Review of Educational Research (March 2015), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (likely available through your library), caught my attention this week.