How to Get a School Grant: The Right Way and Many Wrong Ways

There's a right way to fill out applications for grants, and many wrong ways. I'll try here to give you some quick tips for doing it right the first time.

  • Read all the directions provided with an application before you begin, and then read them again. 
    • Are there certain fonts, type sizes, page count rules or spacing rules?
    • Must the application be postmarked or submitted electronically by a certain date?
notebook and pen.jpg

Failing to fill out an application properly is the number one reason grant applications end up in the failure pile. You're out of the running before you've even begun. Read the directions, once, twice—you get the picture.

  • Each grantor has a reason for giving grants. Use the foundation's website to find out what it is.
    • The closer you match the program you are trying to implement to that reason, the greater your chance of winning the grant money. 
    • You want to tell them of your burning desire to be part of their team for finding solutions to problems.
    • Your application should show that your philosophy matches theirs; otherwise, why complete the application?
  •  Complete every section of an application; they are scored by individuals or committees. Use a foundation's website to find the rubric they use for scoring each application. If you can't find it, call them.
    • If you fail to complete a section or two, you might eliminate yourself from the competition. The winning grants will receive the highest scores on the rubric. 
  • Research former winners to see if their scoring rubrics are available for review.
    • Mine the website for winners. Call the grants persons in successful schools and invite them for coffee to find out how they approached their applications.
    • Network with other grant writers online (see networking resources below).

If you failed to complete two sections worth five points each, you cannot get a score above 90, so review your application for anything you might have left out. Fill out each section as if it's an individual entity. At the end of the process, when you're pulling it all together, you'll find it is all less repetitive that way.

  • Readability is not the number one quality grant makers look for, but it can't hurt to have a document that is a pleasure to read.
    • Beware of local figures of speech (in our area everyone says, "It's wicked good.") You don't want to put that in your grant.
    • Find a good proofreader in your school. Are there any English teachers who'd be willing to look at your work? They might be able to suggest ways to make the application more readable and complete.

Most applications aren't too hard to complete. Grantors are finding that the Internet is a wonderful tool for simplifying their jobs. More applications are online—you won't have to worry about mailings, etc., but if you don't read the application, you won't know.

After you've been successful once with a foundation, you are closer to forging a long-term relationship; good for you!

Helpful Resources for Grant Writers:

American Grant Writers Association

Grant Professionals Association



Resource Associates

Courses and Training