In earlier blogs, I have alluded to grant writing as advertising or sales. This is still true and it's important to know what you are selling and how best to position yourself in the market.
You are selling your school and its educational program and successes to educated consumers (grant providers). Grant providers sort through hundreds of applications each year. After a while, applications merge in readers' minds and it's hard to tell one from another.
One way to set your applications apart from the hoard of competitors is to set your school apart in the minds of everyone, not just the grant readers. Wouldn't it be great if everyone had your school in mind all the time?
"I'm a teacher at the Bestest School," should evoke smiles and nods from everyone who hears the name of your school.
This advertising campaign for your school and district is a process. Instant brand recognition won't happen overnight. That's right, think of your school as a brand like Band-Aid® or Hostess®—instantly recognizable in a positive way. Branding for the corporate world is a full-time job, and companies hire entire teams to create and polish a brand that stands out from the rest.
The first thing a brand needs to do is create a superb website. The Internet is global now; your district is not isolated in a tiny little box anymore. People from all over the world may find your site; you want it to be awesome in the true sense of the word. It needs to be visually pleasing but also content-rich. A search for "best reading program" should bring up your school on a search engine inquiry. As more and more schools catch on to the need for branding, it becomes difficult to create a website that is easily found on search engines. The big ones, "Google", "Bing" and "Yahoo!" have free services that help you choose search engine keywords to reflect priorities for your school. What words will trigger a listing for your school website?
Have you ever wondered why everyone is blogging? It's because blogs create content, and content-rich websites are recognized first in searches.
You need to develop a PR firm right in your own school. Create buzz and find ways to get your school noticed on other blogs and even traditional news outlets. Do you have a great softball team? Great, have a place on your school site that highlights their wonderful wins and contributions. Are you proud of your math test scores? Even better. Create a rah-rah page on your site to let people know how hard you've worked to achieve those scores. Give your math team its own brand. Here's your opportunity to promote your relationships with foundations and corporations. They love the free publicity and will remember you the next time a round of grant opportunities comes up.
Do you have students that are good with cameras, or a photography club? Snap away, and post those feel good images all over your site. Be sure you have parent permissions to post images of students.
Work with your technology team and library media specialist to fine-tune every page on your site. You're creating name recognition and everyone needs to get in on the act. At staff meetings, be sure teachers know you're embarking on a school PR campaign and why. Each one of them has the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for Bestest School out in the community. Get listed on social media sites; Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Twitter are places to be seen and heard from.
Have t-shirts, coffee mugs and pens with the school logo handy. You have a school logo right? Make sure it meets any district and state guidelines, but have it on every page of your site. See if you can get it on school and district letterhead. The consistent image is important in establishing the name recognition you need to set your school apart from the crowd.
- Edweek Article
- National Schools Public Relations Association
- Promoting Your School
- Market Your School
Soon, grant makers will know who you are without the need for lengthy explanations. It will help at grant approval time.
Let us know how you market your school.
Current Grant Opportunities
Educational Grants from the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation - Giving on a national basis. Foundation established a biennial international science award for discoveries in the earth sciences; grants for biological, geophysical, and environmental research, including scholarships, and cultural organizations, including those emphasizing Norwegian-American relations and maritime interests. Support also for public policy research and libraries. No grants to individuals. A Letter of Inquiry must be submitted before a full proposal will be considered.
States: All States
Average Amount: $2,500.00 - $700,000.00
Total Amount: $4,000,000.0
Address: c/o Fulton, Rowe, & Hart, 1 Rockefeller Plz., Ste. 301, New York, NY 10020-2002
Website: The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other
Program Areas: Arts, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Educational Grants from Brinker International - Brinker International supports projects which provide direct and immediate relief to the community, customers, and employees in areas where they operate various restaurants. Our main areas of giving are health, social services, arts and education, and diversity.
States: All States
Address: 6820 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, TX United States 75240
Website: Brinker International
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Program Areas: After-School, Arts, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Early Childhood, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading