Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS
There are some very solid ways to improve your chances of having your grant receive a warm welcome from foundations and corporations. I’ve isolated five of them. I’ve used them all as considerations, a checklist of sorts, for what to think about before you click “send”. Before you start to write though, study the funder’s website and try to find a scoring rubric they may use for new grant applications. This will provide a good guide for success.
- Adherence and alignment to state curriculum standards. In most cases, foundations and corporations are seeking to support their communities and schools to raise academic achievement. This primary motivation is selfish in nature, especially for corporate grants. Companies are looking for smart, well educated employees and they’re anxious to help kids succeed. Curriculum standards provide context and a framework for describing how you plan to achieve your goals. Associated goals include using data to identify the problems you are targeting. Be sure your demographics are described; what does your school look like, who are your students?
- Providing a solid assessment and program evaluation plan. How are you going to measure the degree to which your project will achieve its goals? Examples include identifying a specific improvement in test scores to support curriculum areas needing support. If asked, are you prepared to describe your evaluation plan? Have you used these metrics to guide other projects in a consistent approach to program evaluation?
- Understanding of the company or foundation you are targeting. Make sure your project directly supports the funder’s agenda. A company that has historically provided support for children with special needs will not be interested in supporting your AP history project. You can study the grantor’s website to learn more about this. Each funder will tell you directly what they are trying to accomplish with their philanthropy. Most will have a scoring rubric on their site that will help you stay on track. This rubric will tell you exactly what they want to see in your application.
- Aligning your goals and objectives to your budget. You may be tempted to add some peripheral supplies to your grant application. Don’t. Each item in your budget must be directly related to your goals. Are you trying to purchase a new reading program to raise test scores for your readers in grades 4-6? You might consider asking for computer software to support the new program, but don’t try to “sneak in” computers for 3rd grade STEM projects. The funders will know, and they won’t be happy about it. They may be willing to work with you to analyze your budget line by line if they are generally happy with your appeal, but will spot attempts to pad the budget.
- Adherence to application guidelines. When grant applications were submitted via snail mail, there were always page count limits. Online applications have made it easier to adhere to formatting rules; the forms are preset to shut off a wordy narrative by limiting the number of characters the form will accept in certain form fields. The forms are preset to use a specific font and text sizes, don’t try to tinker with it, they may be printing out your application to distribute to readers (in some cases), and the formats need to be consistent if only to be kind to people who will read hundreds of appeals.
You know you have a viable project, and you know you need the funds to supplement the regular school budget allocations for your programs. Supplement not supplant – you don’t ever write a grant to find funds to take the place of budget items you must fund from your city or town budgets. Examples of that can be things like building projects (except under special circumstances that are pre-planned), utilities, and to some extent salaries. With most foundation grants, you may be able to hire consultants to come to your school to guide the activities in the project, or pay staff stipends for after school programs, but in most cases, you won’t be able to hire new staff.
Go forth, be successful, and let me know how you’re doing.
Grant Opportunity #1
Innovative Reading Grant
American Association of School Librarians
The AASL Innovative Reading Grant supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children to motivate and encourage reading, especially with struggling readers. Reading programs must be specifically designed for children (grades K-9) in the school library setting. Applicants must be a personal member of AASL (good idea to join anyway).
Public School, Private School.
50 E Huron St Chicago, IL 60611-2729 312-280-4381
Grant Opportunity #2
Youth Literacy Grants
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
Dollar General Literacy Foundation Youth Literacy Grants provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Grant funding is provided to assist in the following areas: implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs, purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives, and purchasing books, materials or software for literacy programs.
After-School, At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Early Childhood, ESL/Bilingual/Foreign Language, General Education, Library, Reading, Special Education.
Public School, Private School, Other.
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Free Grant Search Database
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