Using a Grants Database

I have a tendency to get down into the weeds of grant writing before I’ve covered all the basics. This blog began with a purpose; it is here to guide you to sources of grant funding for your school. The how of it is explored thoroughly in my blogs, but sometimes I neglect to reveal the where.

Many writers attempt to locate grants on the Internet by using search engines or by subscribing to grant newsletters. Those methods are alright but they tend to be inefficient and take too much time. The best way to locate potential grants is to use a comprehensive grant database. The more comprehensive and up-to-date the database, the better it will serve your needs.

The most comprehensive grant database available to educators is the School Funding Center Grant Database. It contains federal, state, foundation, and corporate grants available to schools in the United States. Old grants are removed and new grants are posted on a daily basis. The database comes in four levels, the free source and several subscription levels that open up many more details about the grants you may want to pursue. The database, as a subscription, pays for itself in no time at all.

If you are looking just for federal grants, the official database to use is Grants. This resource comes directly from the federal government. It lists every federal education grant available to schools in the United States. It does not list state, foundation, or corporate grants. If you use this grant resource, you will still need to track down private sources of grants for schools.

If you are looking for state grants, your best bet is to go to your state education agency’s website. Some of those sites include excellent grant databases that will help you locate current state grants. Fortunately, we’ve posted a map that will take you directly to your state DOE. If your state’s site does not have “grants” or “funding” listed in its menu bar, type “grants” into the search box on the site to see if you can find listings that way.

Be aware that many government grants are allocations; they are based on district demographics. An example of this is Title I. Be sure you are working with your district administration if you are considering looking at the Title I grant or other state pass-through grants. Your district probably has someone who writes this application every year. If you go off on your own to try to write this enormous grant you may irritate, annoy, and infuriate the people you most definitely want to be working with at the district level, so be careful. If you are an individual school grant seeker, there are plenty of grants you can apply for that do not include a government interface. Keep administrators in the loop.

If you are specifically looking for foundation grants, another subscription service is the Foundation Center. This organization lists many thousands of foundations in its database. The database is good for finding foundation grants, but the yearly subscription costs range from $195.00 – $995.00 per year depending on the number of foundations you want listed in your searches. At the low end, you are not really digging very deeply and you will miss many opportunities. The more comprehensive the database you wish to search, the more your subscription will cost.

You may decide to work with your committee to divide the labor of looking for and then writing the actual grant. Seeking grant opportunities can be a full time job. You will want to spend the bulk of your time writing the applications, not sifting through spreadsheets.

We’ve tried to make seeking grants easier for you, but there’s no two ways about it, this is a complicated and time consuming job.

There are other sources of information for looking for grants, let us know your favorites.


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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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