How Many Grants Will You Write This Year?

The question is not whether you should write grants for your school this year. The question is can you write and receive enough grant funds to offset budget shortfalls without supplanting district responsibilities? It would be wonderful if one big gigantic grant could pick up the tab for whatever your teachers will need. Wonderful but unlikely. What can you do about it?

I suggest you do three things to help with this challenge:

First, if you are not already using the School Funding Center database, you need to begin using it now. With full disclosure – this blog is tied to the database. The valuable data you will find here will allow you to spend your time filling out grant applications and less time looking for grants that are a fit for your school.

Second, recruit and train several capable people to help you write grants for your school. You need to be working on a grant application at all times–in fact, several of them. A person cannot write her second grant until she writes (and receives) the first one. Enlist other people to become involved so you can have enough applications in development to make a difference.

Third, organize your needs in academic blocks. Use test scores as your guide, and keep a binder with the Common Core State Standards handy. Flip through the CCS binder periodically so you are familiar with the language of the standards. You will be surprised to find that grantors know what the standards say and will expect you to use them to articulate your needs.

There are two keys to securing large amounts of grant money for your school.

  • Make sure the grants for which you apply match up well with the needs of your school.
  • Fill out enough grant applications, so that if you only get 25-30% of them funded, you’ll still have plenty of money to cover your needs. A grant that is not funded this year, with some editing, may be successful down the road.

Keep all past narratives handy. You will find the language you use in one will be useful in another. Your demographic descriptions will need updating once in awhile to stay current, but that section of the grant will largely stay the same. Grant writers are notoriously shy about sharing their narratives. I share mine all the time; if you give, you will receive. Network with other school grant writers for ideas and keys to success.

The economy has been improving. Tax revenues are up in most communities. All boats are rising though, the number of grant submissions will continue to grow as people become aware of what’s available. The Internet has made it easier for teachers to become successful fundraisers. The lone grant writer has been replaced. There are now legions of eager beavers flooding  the grant making community with requests for help.

Make sure your applications stand out. Don’t worry about creating great prose, stay professional, terse, and on point. Your grantors will appreciate a clear, concise description of your needs and the job at hand. Use data, and tie your needs to the standards. It’s a winning formula every time.
I include some useful resources:

Let me know how you’re doing, I’d love to feature your school in one of my blogs.


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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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