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How-To: Develop as a Professional

Grant Writing Tips--Part I Ed Clement

In the corner of my classroom there is a little closet where I store my school supplies. On the top shelf I have a row of cans labeled 1983,1984,1985 etc. up to 1999. Those cans contain the receipts of school purchases I've made over the last 16 years. I think it's the rule rather than the exception for teachers to spend there own money on classroom supplies. My non-teaching friends, though, think it's a little strange for me to voluntarily give back part of my salary to a school system with a 3 billion dollar budget, and they might be right when you consider the huge amount of grant money that is available to today's teachers.

Over the last five years I've received over twenty five thousand dollars in grant money which has drastically reduced the size of the cans I need to hold my 1994 through 1995 out of pocket school receipts.

Listed below are a few tips that might help you get into the deep corporate pockets and out of those very shallow teacher pockets.

  • Grant applications are often more a test of writing skills than a reward for good teaching ideas. If your grant proposal is rejected and you believe you have a lesson that will benefit your students, I suggest rewriting and resubmitting it. (See my "Grant Writing Tips Part 2" for rewriting tips.)
  • The more grant proposals you fill out the better. I've only won about 5% of the grants I've written. That's a 95% failure rate and an F in any persuasive writing class, but its meant a ton of money for my classroom programs.
  • Try to avoid writing grants that require spending money for computers. You would think that our current emphasis on integrating computers into the school curriculums would increase the amount of grant money available for them, but I've found the opposite to be true. If you need computers to make your idea work, I suggest trying to find them elsewhere. (See my How To's on integrating technology into your curriculum, for tips on where and how to get computer hardware.)
  • Team teaching projects are much more likely to be approved than solo attempts. More than once I've resubmitted a rejected grant and had it approved simply by changing it to a team teaching project.
  • Since filling out grant applications can be very time consuming, I suggest that you write outlines of your grant ideas with accurate budget statements and keep them handy. The biggest grant I have ever received ($12,000 for a CAD/CAM work station, I received because I got the grant application completed and delivered under a two-day deadline.
To Part II


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