Does anyone remember that annoying tune from Pink Floyd? Just in case you are not familiar with it, linking so you can refresh your memory. Enjoy, as it takes me alllll the way back to high school.
That video though is not why I write tonight. My head is spinning with ideas for grants. I have a long track record of getting grants funded, but most of them are small time. I have assisted in some larger grants that were $20K, and can proudly attest that one grant was funded three times in a row! W00T!
Grant writing has not always come easy to me. I have however, figured out some tricks to getting them funded.
- Make sure the funding source knows just exactly how needy your kids are. Using your words to paint a bleak picture of pathetic poor students who are suffering without. Most grants require a needs statement, and this is your opportunity to whip out the metaphorical violin and draw the bow across the heartstrings with that sad and moving tale of just how much your students suffer because there is no funding to do creative and interesting projects.
- Somewhere in the mix you will be asked to spell out goals, objectives, and maybe (more than likely) an evaluation of your project proposal. While the goal can be written with a relatively global flare–“My students will be better students after participating in this project.”–make sure you specifically state objectives in measurable terms–>Students will increase their scores on MAP testing math assessments by 20 points after the completion of the project. Give specifics here on how you will measure them . If called for, tell how you will evaluate–>When MAP scores are available after the April Assessments, scores in math will be compared to the January assessment.
- Finally, the third most important part of the grant is the project description. Here is where you get to say what your kids will be able to do if you can implement this project. Describe it in terms of what students will do, and keep it grounded on students. Make sure it is creative, innovative, and engaging. Notice I did not say wow them with technology. Too often people writing grants think if it is liberally sprinkled with technology, it’s bound to get funded. After all, technology grants are typically creative, innovative, and engaging, right? Wrong. Yes they have the potential. But don’t forget to focus on the student learning because of those factors, and not just those factors.
Other tips? I would certainly focus on student engagement. And actually, the last seven or eight grants that I’ve had funded, I purposefully used the language of engagement in my project descriptions as I find those words tend to help the reader focus on the student learning, and not the budget that will follow. This link is a page I created for my old school’s website to inform parents about a school and district focus, and I personally referred to it frequently in trying to locate words I knew would flavor my grant with compelling evidence that it was a proposal focused on student learning. Of particular care I took to write my project description using as many relevant design qualities, and I must say it seemed to pay off. No these weren’t necessarily jargon words, but rather a way to stress that what I was proposing was good for the bottom line, student learning. I used them where relevant. No I did not use everything there 100%, but where it fit, yes, I used it. (I guess I’d better copy/paste and recreate that page since I’ve just confessed I use it frequently. I’m no longer there to maintain it, and in reality it could disappear any day…okay, it is done.)
Why am I writing this?
Well, just recently my principal has been sending out from the district grant opportunity after grant opportunity. I have let so many slip by. But suddenly today, I felt the grant bug bite. I actually whipped up 2 before I left school today. And my mind is churning away on another one, though it will need to be a group effort. Will they get funded? I don’t know. They are due in 12 days, so I have time to sit on them, let them get cold, and then reread, looking for typos I’m notorious for, and also to see if I can add to, rephrase, or improve in any other way. I’ll also get some others to read as well.
Where do the ideas come from?
I read journals, blogs, and partake of many professional development opportunities online (virtual PD) and in real life–attending conferences. One today came from a session I heard about (but did not attend) at SC EdTech and SCASL presented by MaryAnn Sansonetti! Even though I did not attend her session, I did pick her brain about it, and get her handouts as well as review her material made available online. W00T!! A virtual goldmine–thanks MaryAnn. Ipodabilities sounds like a fabulous grant. The second idea came straight from Twitter of all places, thanks to Karl Fisch. He tweeted about attending a neighboring school’s Techstravaganza. I dm-ed him, and asked for a few details. What he emailed me sent me into a tailspin, and I had to write it up! I even suggested it to my principal BEFORE writing the grant proposal, saying we should do this. A grant with a little funding will just make it a little easier! Advice to take away–when you attend conferences, don’t leave disheartened saying we’ll never be able to do that because we don’t have___. GO back and begin that grant. You never know when the right one will drop in your lap that it will fit into.
I hope they get funded, but even if they don’t, I can feel good about the effort. And confession–> I’ve had many more rejected than funded. I just don’t like to share that. But the ones that have been funded have motivated me far more than the rejections have deflated me. Sigh.