Grant Writing – Quick & Relatively Painless
A few years ago I learned about grant writing and the possibilities they created for teachers with big ideas and limited funds. With very little experience, I was able to write a successful grant in under an hour through donorschoose.org. I was awarded a TV and wall mount, as well as an AverKey to connect my classroom computer to the TV so that all 26 of us didn’t need to crowd around one small screen. Once other teachers saw my set up, they were interested in getting TVs to project their computers, so I led a grant writing workshop at my school. Many other teachers from my school were also awarded grants through donorschoose.org. Here are a few tips for easy grant writing.
With donorschoose.org, it seems best to think of a specific project you want funded. For example, I wanted a way to project my computer, so I asked for all the necessary components to make that happen.
Donorschoose allows and encourages teachers to write up to three grants, so think through your ideal classroom, and try to breakdown what you hope to acquire through grants into three parts. Asking for smaller chunks may get your project funded more quickly. My grant through donorschoose.org was for about $350.
Catchy titles help! Do a bit of research on other people’s grants –donorschoose.org allows you to do so.
Get a feel for the tone of other teachers’ grants before you write yours.
Gather your school statistics (student population, percentage of free and reduced lunch,) and save it for future grants. www.insideschools.org is a great resource for this, as well as your own school website (hopefully!).
Involve students in the grant process. My students and I documented everything from the moment the TV and wall mount arrived, to our amazing custodians who helped mount the TV. You’ll be required to do some simple follow up work, and the more invested you and your students are in the process, the easier the follow-up documentation will be. With donorschoose.org, you’ll need to take photos of the grant items being implemented (they send you a disposable camera) and your students will write thank you letters to whoever donated to your grant. I think getting your students invested early on in the process results in more genuine gratitude.
Save and modify! After writing and receiving one grant, I realized the potential for public school teachers with limited budgets to create an ideal classroom. Once you’ve written that first proposal (which in many ways is the hardest one to write), you’ve created a base on which to build. I was more motivated to try for a bigger grant (which I received) after starting with donorschoose.org, and I didn’t need to start from scratch.
And if your first proposal doesn't succeed, don't give up.
The Foundation Center
Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Allisyn.
Grant Writing Tips by Ed Clement
Funding Our Classrooms by Carolyn Hornik
Grants and Grantwriting by Nancy Powell