Developing a Plan to Fix Your Problem

If you are looking for grant money to fix a problem in your school, I hope you have developed a checklist to follow. You should:  1) define the problem you need to address, 2) develop a plan that has a good chance of fixing the problem, 3) use a grant database to find grantors who are interested in helping you fix that type of problem, 4) complete a grant application in a way that lays out the problem you have, the plan to fix it, and a budget to show how the grant money will enable you to put your plan in place. Today, I want to focus on the plan you develop to fix your problem.  My first suggestion is not to get too creative. There’s little chance that the problem your school is facing has not been encountered hundreds of times before.  Sorry, but most problems are just not that unique. Chances are also that someone who has faced this problem before has developed a very good solution for fixing the problem. Why reinvent the wheel if you can find something that’s already working somewhere else?

I will caution you, however, to find a school that is similar to your own when you look for possible solutions. It’s not the same when one school has 80% of their students who are economically disadvantaged and another school has 20%. They might have both overcome a reading problem similar to the one you have, but the students and their individual problems might be vastly different.  Look for a school that has a similar student population and similar resources if at all possible.

You should be able to find a plan that will work for you by attending appropriate conferences, getting in touch with your local education service center, through large education sites on the Internet, or even Google if you do your research properly.  And yes, once you find a good program you might even have to make a few adjustments to make it fit your school, but be very careful.  If you’re not sure exactly what made the program successful in another school, you might make a change that will also change the results you get in your own school.

You will also probably be able to find commercial products that can help you solve your problem.  While some people hate it and some people love it, I can tell you that Accelerated Reader from Renaissance Learning helped to turn our entire middle school around. But I can also tell you that we had proper training and ran the program exactly as it was recommended. Far too often when schools depend on a commercial product, they do little training and typically run the program the way they think is best rather than the recommended way. If you do that, I will tell you that it won’t work at least 90% of the time and both your effort and your grant money will be wasted.

The key is to find a program that works with your type of population. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a program developed by a teacher or administrator or one that another school found in a catalog.  It should have a proven track record with schools similar to yours, and it should be implemented just as the developers recommend.  If you find that type of program, if you implement that type of program, you are very likely to get similar results.  You will have solved your problem, and the grant money you used will be money well spent.

One of the key ingredients of any grant application is the plan you develop to fix your problem. Make sure you develop a plan that has the very best chance of success and give details how it has worked before in other schools similar to yours. When you do that, you greatly increase your chances of winning grant money.