Everyone who writes grants for schools has to go through the rejection process: it's a rite of passage. The key is to get over the frustration quickly and move on. Dry your tears and learn from the process.
The first thing you need to do when you realize the hours of hard work have not paid off is to find out why. Every grant provider has an evaluation process for grant applications. Usually a rubric is used to rate different parts of an application. They receive so many that it behooves them to find a way to rank them according to their needs. I've said it before: the funding agency has needs. They provide funds for projects that meet those needs, and hopefully you know what their needs are before you put pen to paper.
You can also find rubrics on their websites (not your specific rubric, but a sample). The best way to look at your own is to call and ask for the rubric or other evaluation instruments used to rank your application. After you've been doing this for a while, you'll know that having the rubric handy throughout the process is the best way to stay on track as you prepare the grant. It's putting the horse before the cart.
You also want to see the narratives for the winning applications. The grantor may not provide that information, but if you can find the list of grantees, then you can start the process of calling each one to see if they will share their narratives with you. Once upon a time, there was no way any self-respecting grant writer would share their hard work. These days though, I've found that people are much more generous. It's in everyone's best interest to share information.
I hope you've started to establish a relationship with the funder either over the phone, by email or, best of all, in person. From the start, you should have been working with a representative from the foundation to fine tune your approach. They will be very helpful and will share what they know about the process and your place in it.
The point of all this is, you aren't finished yet. The rejection letter is just the start of the relationship. You will apply again, right? Sometimes you'll need to apply many times before you are successful. It takes perseverance and patience to land a big foundation grant. It also requires attention to detail. It may be that you neglected a detail as you put the package together. Formatting, page count, font, spacing, deadlines—all of these details are important. It's one way the funder can weed out some of the applications from the deluge they've received.
So, you've looked over the rubric. We do ours in focus groups with stakeholders. This way we have a head start for the next application. Many eyes can tease out the reasons for failure. You can then schedule an appointment with the foundation representative to start the process of preparing for the next round. The foundation may be changing direction over the next year, and you want to be able to adjust to their growth process. They want you to succeed; their funds need to be allocated to the best of the best. Their passion about your area of need will become evident and you can begin the process of becoming their best friend.
Here are some resources for going forward:
- Reasons Why Grant Applications Fail
- If the Proposal Is Denied
- Ten Reasons Why (both sides)
- Sample Rubric
- Approaching Foundations
The moral of this article is try, try again, but educate yourself in the meantime.
Let us know how you turn failure to success.
D.E.W. Foundation Grants from the Dale & Edna Walsh Foundation - Giving nationally, DEW contributes to medical, relief, welfare, education, community service, ministries and environmental programs, and arts organizations. All organizations must submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) to be considered for funding.
States: All States
Average Amount: $5,000.00 - $30,000.00
Total Amount: $400,000.00 - $900,000.00
Address: 6461 Valley Wood Drive, Reno, NV 89523
Website: The Dale & Edna Walsh Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Other
Program Areas: Adult Literacy, After-School, Arts, At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Disabilities, Facilities/Maintenance, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE, Homeless, Math, Reading, Safe/Drug Free Schools, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, Special Education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Sol Hirsch Education Fund Grants from the National Weather Association - Sol Hirsch Education Fund Grants are awarded annually to teachers/educators of grades K–12 to help improve the education of their students, school and/or community in the science of meteorology. The Grant is intended to allow teachers to: Purchase scientific materials and/or equipment for the classroom, school or community; Begin new school and/or community science outreach and education programs; Enhance and/or expand existing meteorology/science education programs; and Attend accredited courses, workshops and/or conferences related to meteorology that will significantly enhance their teaching activities.
States: All States
Average Amount: $750.00
Address: 228 West Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609-4304
Website: National Weather Association
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Program Areas: Science/Environmental, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)