Polishing YOUR Brand as a Grant Writer

Whether you sought this job, or you fell into it by accident (don’t laugh, that’s what happened to me), you are now the designated school grant writer. If you’re like me, you want to do it well, there’s no point in doing a job half way. You’ve been working with other school leaders to prepare a brand identity for your school, how about a brand for yourself?

You may aspire to becoming a bona fide school administrator, with an office downtown and responsibilities to go with it. A helpful tip is to go back to school and get a master’s in educational administration. It will pay for itself in fairly short order. It will help you develop a mindset that lets you see the big picture, something you need to do to be a good grant writer and administrator. And it’s a good major for education junkies like me.

Social media tools can help you set up your own identity. LinkedIn is the definitive place to start. Have a professional picture taken; you’ll want to post it on your social media sites. You can start your own website, but these days, it’s so easy to have a Facebook and LinkedIn page, they do the heavy lifting for you. I started doing all of this half-way. I found a funky picture of myself on a vacation; you know the kind, the one with the goofy grin. This is not the shot to use on your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is your professional go-to location; there are groups to network with like-minded professionals. You’ll be amazed at how many valuable grant-writing tips your group-mates can provide.

In your district, and much closer to home, you want to be sure you have a corner or node on the district website, maybe they’ll let you post your resume. You can make it newsy like a blog; keeping everyone up to date on successes writing grants for your school. Work with technology staff to keep it consistent with district site look and feel. Keep track of human resources bulletin boards; there may be “downtown” jobs for which you qualify to get your foot in the door. That is, if you wish to take it that far. If you’re not ready, and you want to stay in the classroom a few more years, be sure to pace yourself. It’s easy to get distracted to the point where you’re no good to anyone. The classroom and your students must be first priority; grant writing comes second.

But, if you love the heart thumping pleasure you get when you receive word that the Foundation has accepted your grant application, then you’ll want to start planning for a full time job. The district needs you. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but you don’t choose easy jobs anyway. You wouldn’t be reading this if you did.

Other ways to raise your visibility include organizing with the PTA. Stay after school to attend some of their meetings, and let them know you are seeking grants for programs in school. They will become your cheerleaders. They’ll also include your projects in their lists for funding. Many PTA groups are astonishingly effective at raising funds. We had a chocolate bunny fundraiser at Easter that raised mucho dinero. It was fun for all, too.

Back to you, the small fundraisers are great, but you have your eye on bigger prizes, the large grants that can make or break your school’s budget. Everyone knows the district provides only so much support. You can become a grant-hero, but along the way, you’ll want to improve your own standing; and there’s no shame in it.

Resources for boosting your own image:

Let me know how you’re doing. You may network with me by leaving a comment below.


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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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