Describing Project Activities in Your Narrative

We have talked about demographics, statistics about your school that help you demonstrate need for the funding you seek. We’ve set the stage for writing the successful proposal you know you can submit to a foundation. You now have a working skeleton or outline to lead you to next steps. Your goals have been set and defined.

We’ll talk today about the how. What activities will you devise to move from concept to success? This is where you start to justify your budget, you can’t provide an activity schedule without the funds for materials and supplies, and the curriculum programs you have identified that will best solve your problem. The step is 6B, Proposed Activities.

To review, we provided a good working outline for you last time:

1. Table of Contents ( the last thing you write)
2. Mission Statement (30 words or less)
3. Abstract (not done last, 3rd person statement of goals, objectives, impact)
4. Statement of Need (with demographic support, stay with one need)
5. Project research base (literature review)
6. Project Narrative
a. Goals and Objectives
b. Proposed Activities
c. Facilities and Resources (laying the foundation for your budget)
d. Evaluation (how will you assess whether you met your goals)
e. Dissemination (how will the public be informed of your project and results)

7. Budget
a. Budget worksheet (excel spreadsheet)
b. Budget justification
c. Sustainability – who will pay for costs going forward

8. Attachments (if allowed, always ask first
a. Bibliography
b. Resume
c. Letters of Support/Endorsement
d. Relevant Publications (if allowed)

This and the next few blogs will concentrate on the narrative portion of the application. Let’s say your data has shown that your students lag in mathematics, especially in the probability standard. Your test scores show this clearly. You also know that for budget cutting reasons, you are not providing any after school support for students who need extra help. So you really have two data driven goals, raise math scores in the probability portions of tests, and provide a great after school program to bring understanding to your students.

If you’ve been a teacher for a long time, you have seen the efficacy of after school programs. You can devise a fun program, with field trips, hands on activities, and let your hair down a little with the students. The probability standard is a good example of how to create and present project based learning after school programs. This is a buzz word at the moment, but for a change, it’s one I can heartily endorse. When I think back to my school days, I always think first of something hands on that the teacher used to make me understand a difficult concept. Field trips are a great example of this.
I don’t recommend taking a field trip to Las Vegas to illustrate real life probability examples. You might get some push-back from parents (you think?) There are however, some very good examples of project based learning programs in mathematics and you will benefit by reading research on this form of program development. The Internet is chock full of real life examples of how to devise these projects.

Each project will incur costs, so keep this in mind while you’re describing your project and the activities you will devise to illustrate tricky concepts. Your budget will develop from these activities. You may need new notebook or tablet computers so students can have mobile technology during off-campus trips to places that help you illustrate your curriculum goals. Be careful here though, grant readers can smell a project that has been invented to buy computers a mile away. Beginning grant writers often make the mistake of writing a grant because it’s the only way to buy “stuff”. The computers must be integral to fulfilling your data devised program goals, not the other way around. They will know if you make this mistake. Cart before the horse.

Each blog brings us closer to a completed grant application. It’s a process, not an event.

Next time, we’ll talk about assessment and evaluation.
How will you know your project has delivered on its promise?

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About Neva Fenno

Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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