Classroom Funding: 4 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Grant Applications

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

We know that teachers aren’t short on awesome ideas to try with students in the classroom, but all too often, school budgets don’t have the wiggle room to cover out-of-the-box projects, extra tech, or mid-year supply restocking. Grants can be a great option to fill budget gaps, and turn some of your classroom dreams into instructional realities. But, with lesson planning, grading, test prep, and the never-ending admin work already on teachers’ plates, tackling grant applications can feel like a daunting task. As with so many other tasks, the hardest part is getting started. Give these tips a try to help take the stress out of the grant writing process, and get the funding you need to bring your outstanding classroom ideas to life!

Put a unique spin on your idea

Grants are competitive, and when you apply for one, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a good chance someone else has come up with an idea not unlike yours. The key is to articulate what specifically about your plan will make it unique and effective. A general request for tablets to support skills practice, or art supplies to replenish classroom stocks, while certainly valid, is more likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, go into detail about what you’re trying to fund, why you need it, how you will use it, and what evidence you have that it will be effective. And don’t be afraid to apply for funding for some of your more out-there ideas—a unique proposal can make you stand out to reviewers.

Follow the trends

While it’s important to stand out from the crowd, you also have to appeal to your audience. Before you start applying for grants, think about what’s currently trending in education: personalized learning, career and technical education, STEM instruction, and equity are just a few issues that come to mind. Hot-button topics that are getting the lion’s share of public attention also tend to get the greatest share of funding. Consider how you can slant your application toward those subjects to boost your chances of winning funding.

Don’t be afraid to think big

Most educators are used to working with small budgets, so when they apply for grants, they often think that they will stand a better chance if they don’t ask for the moon. However, it’s important to put things in perspective: in the world of grant funding, $10,000 is considered a small sum. Do your research before submitting an application to see how large previous awards have been, and align your request accordingly. And, don’t think of grants as being non-negotiable. Just like most financial transactions, there is usually some wiggle room. Your funder might like your idea but want you to cut down things a little. If you go ahead and ask for the moon to begin with, paring down your request later will be a lot easier.

Research your options

There’s no shortage of grants available—it’s just a matter of putting in the effort to find them. Before you ever sit down to begin an application, take time to do some research. Search for grants that are specific aligned to your subject area, grade-level, type of need, or community to maximize your chances of being selected. To help you get started, here’s a list of some of our favorite sites to check for funding opportunities:

 The Every Student Succeeds Act is changing the education funding landscape. Want to learn more?  Check out this blog on how new SSAEG grants will help to support well-rounded education!

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