Grants can help teachers create innovative classroom programs and secure supplies vital for student learning. Applying for a grant can be a long and involved process, but you'll be well on your way to success if you keep the following steps in mind.
- Brainstorm. If money were no object, what lesson would you love to teach? What hands-on materials do your students need to make your subject come to life? Are there any basic educational needs your school isn't meeting because of budget cuts? These are the kind of needs most grants were created to meet.
- Research possible grants. Look on the local, state and national level. Just a small number of the many corporations and foundations offering grants include EDS, Verizon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Toyota, The NEA Foundation and The Southern Poverty Law Center. Some grant programs give out funds for programs, while other grants provide supplies like computers. The bigger the grant program, the larger the competition, but the greater the rewards.
- Assemble a team. You'll be more successful in the grant application process if you have a supportive team. This could be as simple as getting your principal and department chair on board with the effort, or it may mean asking the entire staff of your school to become involved in a large-scale project.
- Create a detailed plan. Grants are awarded to those who do their homework and create a detailed and compelling case for their needs.
- Pay attention to detail. Applying for a grant is an exacting process. You must follow every rule to the letter and submit every essay, budget, letter of reference or other bit of paperwork the granting organization requires. Creating a checklist may help you keep track of the required pieces of your application.
- Polish your submission. You want to present your best work to the grant committee. This is not the time to let a typo slip through. Any written portions should be clear and concise. You may want to ask other people to proofread your work and suggest points that may need clarification.
- Follow-through. There may be additional steps required if you make it past the preliminary rounds of a competition. You don't want to lose out on a source of funding because you didn't turn in additional paperwork or schedule an interview. If you receive a grant, follow the program's stipulations to the letter. Some programs require receipts to document how you spent the funds. Others may simply require a written summary of your accomplishments. Even if the awarding group requires no reports, be sure to send a thank-you letter letting them know how much their support has meant to your program.