Grants for Individuals

In the last article, I talked about grants for “extras”, and as promised, I’m going to tell you about grants for individuals.

Individuals fall into two categories, full or part time teaching staff, and consultants. In big federal and state grants like Title I and Educator Quality, it is expected that you will request funds for staff and professional development consulting personnel. They will caution about this, the people you hire must be aligned with the goals of the grant. There is a person in your district (depending on its size) that prepares those grant application packages. Sometimes it’s the curriculum director. If it’s you, and you are also responsible for writing foundation and corporate grants, you are a busy person. I have been one of those all-encompassing-grants-people, so I speak from some authority.

The federal and state grants come with huge binders that outline rules and regulations for how funds can be spent. I spent my first year reading them; NoDoz and gallons of coffee were completely ineffective and I was occasionally accused of sleeping on the job. Also, once you get the regulations down, be prepared for them to change. It is a good idea to subscribe to one of those information services that, on a subscription basis, will send you any updates to the regulations without asking. They’re expensive but they help keep you on track. Keep track of them too, for they will renew your subscription automatically and you’ll get a bill, best to read the fine print. Your state DOE will also provide information. Be sure you are on all the right email lists.

But, I digress. Once you’ve filled out staff positions for the next year, you know there will be personnel wish lists. You see your administrators mumbling, “if we had a full time xyz person, we wouldn’t have this problem”. Or, if you are the administrator, you know exactly what would make the district run better and be better equipped to raise academic achievement.

Enter, your friendly foundations and benevolent corporate partners. This is where it gets tricky; in general, they will not pay for staff. Their goals are project driven and discrete efforts to get a specific job done. They are usually short-lived. This is why I talk about partnerships so much. If you develop partnerships with these folks, they will come back year after year to help you out. It all depends on how well you are meeting THEIR goals (which are also yours, right?). The individuals they might support are part time consultants who will come in to help in the planning stage for rolling out a big academic overhaul project.

You’ve laid out your needs, all driven by data from your achievement tests. To make a big impact you need a big grant, and here we come into the realm of matching funds. Foundations will often provide matching funds for existing programs. They don’t intend to pay for the whole thing, but they will subsidize a promising and emerging initiative if it meets their needs and their mission.

So you may want to see if it’s possible to patch together some parts of projects to make a whole. Your school budget will bear the brunt (city funds), your state and federal funds will subsidize such a project, and your partners in the private world will help you pull it all together.

This approach is sophisticated and takes massive amounts of planning. There are also “planning grants” because people know that a good program goes through many stages, the first of which is planning. At this stage, you will need a consultant to help guide the development of the infrastructure on the project. No one school district knows everything; you need help from time to time.

Your partners in the private sphere will know if you are looking for money to hire your Superintendent’s nephew Bartholomew. They have astonishingly accurate radar. Don’t attempt this tactic; you will lose a valuable resource.

So yes, it’s possible to pay for individuals with grant funds, but get ready to pull out the stops for a big effort. Make sure your partners are informed of the need for the individuals you seek. Treat your partners like the gold they are, and never try to pull the wool over their eyes. They will know…….

Some resources:


Let me know how you’re doing.


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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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