The Grant Writer’s Web of Intrigue

In previous blogs, I familiarized you with the School Funding Center Grants Database – to provide you with a sense of the huge number of sources they identify for school and community grants. I sent you on some field trips through the web and even in your car, drive around your community to find the branch offices that are there for big companies. They are filled with helper-bees and people who want to give back to their communities. Tap their enthusiasm, it’s still a tough economy, but not a totally dry well by any means, and it’s getting better all the time.

I also gave you some tips on turning your grant writing experiences into a try-out for becoming a school administrator if that’s what you want to do. It’s a great place to start.

I’m going to take a sharp jog to building resources for the grant writer, how to mine the resources that are right under your nose. By all means start in the library. I am of the belief that Library Media Specialists are the coolest people on earth. The stereotype of the aging diva sitting on her duff behind a big desk with a growl on her face is largely untrue. A highly qualified school librarian is a treasure and someone who can help you in unexpected ways.

Chances are she’s wired into the principal’s office. Most school leadership teams include their librarians in team meetings when curriculum decisions are being made. The library after all, is the repository of all the supporting materials you need to implement new programs in your school. A capable librarian will also be a techie, someone who can tutor you through new software applications, maybe even help you post a grants website to the school web page resources. This, by the way is a great idea, it helps to quiet any of the voices out there who are naysayers, and you know who they are. You can always refer the whiners to your website, it lists all the activities you are currently working on, maybe even has a forum that they can contribute to with suggestions and questions.

You’ll want to befriend the most recalcitrant of your foes too by the way, bring them into your web, give them something to do, and render them useful.

So look around the building, who are the key people on staff who can help you in your quest for grants and funding for your kids? I have a super relationship with the arts people, the music teachers and art teachers. They are creative people and always have ideas for grants that I never would have thought up on my own. The cafeteria lady who spoons up the meatballs is also a great resource. She’s a parent, and gets an earful all the time from people in the lunch line. Tap into her grapevine, keep in touch with rumblings.

School grant writers are often a misunderstood breed. But, after all, who is to blame for that? No doubt it’s the grant writer himself. The biggest mistake I ever made as a grants manager was to isolate myself in my office. This was perceived by others as slacking off, instead of what it really was, a feeling of “there aren’t enough hours in the day, leave me alone, I have work to do.” Walk around, meet and greet and be ready to answer the tough questions like “well Neva, what’s the next grant going to be for?”

Comment on this blog, do you have questions for me? What would you like me to write about? I really want to hear from you, even if you think I’m full of hot air. I learn from every single post.


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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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