The word collaboration evokes thoughts of harmony, cooperation and productivity.
I admit it, I’m a control freak (who me?) My stomach tightens when I hear the words “let’s collaborate on this grant application”. The speaker invariably means well, and I have worked on grant projects where collaboration was a key factor in successful completion. Many hands make light work, two heads are better than one.
However, I have also seen grant projects stall and become mired in bickering and in-fighting because strong personalities will try to assert themselves and gain ascendancy. It’s human nature. There are ways to avoid this.
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.
What are extras you ask? In any school, there is nothing extra. We all work overtime just to provide for the essentials. I remember a time when Christmas was an entire month of frivolity, trees and baubles and plays and art walls, and Santa and ………
We don’t see that much anymore, at least in most public schools. “Time on task” is the new mantra, you see school administrators scowling at class projects that take more than an hour to prepare for the holidays. We have to prepare for the tests, remember?
Ah, the good old days.
There is also the issue of budgets, if there is no money in school budgets for art supplies and musical instruments or even a music teacher; it’s hard to create too much frivolity.
In the New Year, many teachers are between semesters in their teacher training programs. Savvy school district administrators take advantage of this lull in academic rigor to bring in staff development consultants to help champion new initiatives. They want to bring everyone up to speed on changing environments in the classroom, for old teachers and newly minted professionals.
At least they are doing this if they have the funding for it. It never seems to make any difference, in robust budgets or lean years; there are not enough dollars for PD. It really needs to be our first priority and it’s a great way to start a relationship with a foundation. Asking for funds for teacher training shows the grantor that you want to deliver services in a professional and well-advised environment. You can’t embark on a blended learning project if your teachers don’t have a clue what blended learning is or how it can make a difference in the classroom.
We’re all looking for funds to improve our technology picture in schools. With the advent of blended learning (see my article last time), we find we will need equipment and software to fulfill the promises of this model.
It used to be that we would write grants for “computer labs”. We’d create projects that required the use of big desktop computers that took up four big library tables in the media center. I’m a former Library Media Specialist so I know how this bandwagon evolved. I was a contrarian at the time, and thought we were spending too much time and money on big mechanical boxes at the expense of our book budgets.
We all grow up eventually (me included). Now we’re looking at other ways of doing things. New tablet computers are taking the place of the boxes (thank goodness). There is still a place for big powerful computers, but portable laptop labs are filling these needs.
1. Educational Grants from the Dr. Scholl Foundation
2. Educational Grants from the Bausch and Lomb Foundation, Inc.
3. Foundation Grants the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation
4. Nurturing Children Grants from the New York Life Foundation
5. Foundation Grants from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
6. STEM Educational Grants from the PPG Industries Foundation
7. Educational Grants from the Monticello College Foundation
8. Educational Grants from the Xerox Foundation
9. Student Achievement Grants from the NEA Foundation
10. Teacher Art Grants from P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education
I’ve talked about templates for writing grants before, to make things easier and to help you reuse the narratives you already have. I use a template for my grant applications.
Here is (again) Neva’s template for grant writing (some things bear repeating):
- Abstract (consider writing your abstract last; it will allow for more concise, project-specific information)
- Problem Statement or Significance of Project
- Project Purpose (overall goal and specific objectives)
- Research Design or work plan (activities and timelines)
- Applicant qualifications and capabilities, demographics
- Evaluation Plan – assessments
- Budget (summary and justifications – refer back to the design/work plan)
- Sustainability (how will you pay for the program when the grant is gone?)
- Appendix (everything else)
I was working on some research the other day for a grant narrative. I am amazed that people are getting away with using meaningless jargon on their websites and in other writings. I’d give you a sample, but
- You know what I mean.
- The offender might be annoyed with using their pearls of wisdom as examples.
When you are writing a narrative, it’s important to be clear. You must assume the reader is not an educator and doesn’t hear the buzzwords and jargon you are using in your narrative. You don’t sound smarter if you know and use these words, the effect is the opposite.