How to Get a School Grant: Chunking Your Grant Applications

When I first started writing articles for this blog over a year ago (hard to believe), I provided some templates for completing applications. It might be useful to revisit that idea with some practical tips for preparing applications now and going forward.

A general grant application template might look like this (parts of the package):

  • Abstract (consider writing your abstract last to allow for more concise, project-specific information)
  • Problem Statement or Significance of Project
  • Project Purpose (overall goal and specific objectives)
  • Research Design or Work Plan (activities and timelines)
  • Applicant Qualifications and Capabilities
  • Evaluation Plan (assessments)
  • Budget (summary and justifications—refer back to the design/work plan)
  • Sustainability (how will you pay for the program when the grant is gone?)
  • Appendix (everything else—be careful with this, some grantors won't read these)

Some of these can be chunked. By this, I mean you can develop reusable boilerplate language for future narratives. I keep a binder with narrative chunks in it. For instance, in the applicant qualifications and capabilities section you can develop a very detailed description of your district or school. It's called demographics, and it's a good idea to keep an updated version of it handy at all times. When you are on the phone with foundation officials, it's useful to toss in some statistics regarding district neediness, so keep this section nearby.

I have worked with very affluent schools and districts. One of the first questions they ask is, "How will we be able to compete with poor schools? They have huge needs that make our situation look irrelevant." All districts have needs. In fact, this is a good way to look at your need for supplementary funding in general. Where would an influx of dollars be most useful to solve your immediate or long-term needs? Needs don't have to be financial. Analyze your learning data. You may find you have a gap in your fourth grade reading scores. This is a place where you can apply a targeted instruction program for remediation.

Everyone needs professional development. Again, look at your learning demographics. Study your weaknesses and develop PD plans to fix them. You can express and compare your needs internally. In other words, you aren't comparing yourself against other more needy districts; you're analyzing your needs against yourself. Create a graph or a chart highlighting the deficit as standing out from the other areas in the curriculum where you excel. It's all relative, and here's a place where that's especially true.

From a chunking standpoint, create a binder with graphs and charts that show your most current academic and test score information. You can pluck readymade data like this from your state department of education website. Ed.gov provides additional data you can use. Likewise, grants.gov is a useful tool. One of my favorite websites is NCES, National Center for Education Statistics, they have robust data tools that drill down into your district information to provide chunks of information you can use.

If you're tackling your reading score deficits this year, you can write your project-specific sections in chunks too. You can chunk your abstract, program descriptions, purposes and sustainability statements. I wish I could say I was always this organized; being able to tackle just one problem in a given year would be a great luxury. The reality is always different. There are so many problems to solve, in so little time.

Make it fun: have binders with pictures on the cover that identify the chunk inside. People complain that grant writers have no sense of humor. Prove them wrong, dress up your office with colorful posters or photos of past grant projects that have been successful. As you go along, you'll have more of these. Show off a bit. Learn to use the camera on your phone.

Some grant writing narrative tips:

Your chunking binders will become your best friends. Let us know other ways you chunk your world.


Current Grant Opportunities

Education Grants from the Kinder Morgan Foundation - Grants are primarily directed to educational programs for youth in grades K-12. Funding is provided to local, state, provincial and regional educational institutions, libraries and programs that provide ongoing support, such as Junior Achievement. The foundation also supports youth programs provided by local arts organizations, symphony orchestras, museums and others. Initial approach is to contact the foundation for application form, which is required.

States: All States 

Average Amount: $1,000.00 - $5,000.00

Total Amount: $500,000.00 - $1,500,000.00

Address: 370 Van Gordon Street, Lakewood, CO 80228

Telephone: 303-914-7655

Email: km_foundation@kindermorgan.com

Website: Kinder Morgan Foundation

Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other

Program Areas: Arts, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Library, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Deadline: 5/10/2015


Foundation Grants from the Easton Sports Development Foundation II - The goal of The Easton Sports Development Foundation is to promote the sport of archery and/or bow hunting and continue these efforts through college and university programs. We want to be a catalyst in the development of archery as a mainstream sport and help it to grow at the state, regional, and national level. Requests for less than $25,000.00 can be submitted at any time.

States: All States

Average Amount: $1,000.00 - $50,000.00              

Total Amount: $1,000,000.00 - $5,000,000.00

Address: 7855 Haskell Avenue, Suite 360, Van Nuys, CA 91406

Telephone: 818-909-2207 Ext. 306

Email: grants@esdf.org

Website: Easton Sports Development Foundation II

Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other

Program Areas: Health/PE

Deadline: 9/1/2015