Grant Writing Techniques for K-12 Funding

Article excerpt

Anyone with access to a newspaper or a television set is aware that there are myriad problems in education that need to be solved, all of which seem to require some type of funding. Although most schools receive funding from a variety of sources, the monies are not always available to fund special projects and programs. Most school personnel are not aware of all the ways to allocate resources and develop long-range plans to meet a school's assessed needs.

Developing a proposal-writing team at your school is a good technique for bringing school plans and personnel together, for learning to maximize local resources and for finding additional funding for supporting long-range programs.

* The Art of Grant Writing

Grant writing is a cross between technical writing and creative writing.

Money is given to fund educational programs by funding sources with a pre-determined philosophical idea of the programs and projects they are willing to back. Funders also determine the procedures they want you to follow before awarding money. Therefore, if you intend to be funded, you need to make sure your school's problems can be solved by the funding source you are soliciting and that you support your program with strong quantitative and qualitative data.

When a school finds a funder that meets its program's needs, the proposals should tell a story about the problems at the school, offer ideas on how to solve these problems, provide plans on how this will happen, and describe the necessary costs and personnel to make this project come true.

* Where Does Money Come From?

My father taught me that "money does not grow on trees," but then again he did not live long enough to see money fall from machines on walls. For successful grant writers, however, money does grow on trees. It's easier to get money when you have money, which is, of course, the "American Way" of doing business.

Grant monies come from a wide variety of resources that include federal funds, state funds, private donations, foundations, local businesses, fund-raising activities and your own school graduates. At the end of this article, I have listed a variety of places to look for major resources, but remember that any resource, no matter how small, can help fund your program. It is often easier to collect $100 from 100 people than $10,000 from one source. The 100 people will only require a thank-you letter, while the major source may require extensive paperwork.

Most companies have to give some money away as part of their tax structure. Your job is convincing them to give the money to you. Businesses are always eager to provide funding support that will makes them look better in the eyes of their community. Help them by writing a proposal in which you can all take pride.

* The Task of Grant Writing

Grant writing is not difficult, but it is hard work and very time consuming. Any educated person can write a successful grant, or you can find a grant writer to coach you through the process. The final grant, however, should express the needs of the students and the passion of the school to change education in terms of student needs.

First of all, there are no generic grants. Grantors will all ask their questions a little bit differently and no two final grants will look alike. That does not mean you cannot use information from one grant to support another. In fact, schools that receive multi-grants usually stick to one set of solutions and continue to request funding from different sources for the same basic program.

Federal and state grants will require a multi-paged proposal plus district and local documentation pages. Foundation and corporate funding sources prefer shorter proposals, usually a cover letter and a two-page proposal plus tax and budgetary information. Solicitation to local businesses may only require a letter of introduction and intent. However, no matter which type of funding source you seek, the information that you will provide is fairly consistent. …