Finding Money Through Grant Writing

Tips for simplifying the grant-writing process so that your creative classroom ideas can become a reality.

By Cathy Neushul

Grant photo

Don't let a lack of funds stifle your creativity! The next time you think of a terrific project or addition to your classroom, don’t let funding be the deciding factor. Be proactive in your approach.

Teachers come up with wonderful and creative ways to challenge their students, but they often don’t have the cash to make their dreams become a reality. One way to find the funds to pay for a field trip, a class set of iPads, or a software program that will allow your class to learn about graphic design, is to apply for a grant.

At first, this idea might seem daunting. Teachers already do enough. We teach, develop curriculum, work on school committees, spend our evenings grading, etc. However, applying for grants doesn't have to be another item on the to-do list. It can be a fairly easy and enjoyable process. Here is a brief guide to help you get started.

Make It A Team Effort

Instead of looking at grant writing as a one-person job, enlist the help of colleagues, the PTA, or parent volunteers. Form a team, and then ask each person to take on a particular task in the grant-writing process. One person can look for available grants, another can research grant writing, and another person can work on providing an outline of what you would like to say. If your team is made up of other teachers, you can share the proceeds from grants that are awarded. If you find your own team, all of the funds can go to your class. One way to recruit help is to remind people that grant writing is a marketable skill, and that they can add any awarded grants to their resume. Or, as a teacher, you can perfect this skill and earn some extra income over the summer months as an independent grant writer. However you decide to undertake this project, forming a team will lighten your load and make it the whole process more enjoyable. 

What Do You Want To Do?

Once you’ve assembled a team, you need to decide what project or projects you would like to fund. The ability to find and obtain a grant will depend greatly on the clarity of your mission. If you are looking for a grant to further student learning of vocabulary terms using software, but don’t identify the exact program you would like to use, the standards the item will address, and the reason you think this addition is necessary, you are unlikely to secure the funds.

Once you have identified the project, here is a list of things to consider:

  1. Describe why you think this particular addition to the curriculum is necessary. Use demographics, test scores, and other evidence as support.
  2. Detail the results you anticipate.
  3. List the goals and objectives for this project, including alignment with state and national standards.
  4. Discuss the duration of the project and the assessment strategies that will be used.
  5. Identify how much this project will cost.

Find Grant Sources

Once you have identified and outlined the project, you are ready to go on to the next step–finding funding. It’s important to look for a grant that matches the objectives of your project. A match will give you a much better chance to secure the funding you need. It’s a good idea to apply for more than one grant in order to increase the possibility of success. Here are some websites with grant information.

Write It Down

Now, it's time to actually write the grant. Before you start to describe your project, goals, and assessment plans, look carefully at the descriptions, budget information and additional documentation you will be asked to provide for each grant. Outline what you will supply for each section and divide the tasks among the members of your group.

A grant application will ask for a narrative of your project’s purpose, why it is needed, and a description of the credentials and backgrounds of the person or persons who are asking for funds. In addition, grant applications require a detailed description of the budget for the project and how the funds will be used. Some grants also allow applicants to provide extra documentation, such as visuals.

Have you had success with grant writing? If so, please share your tips with the Lesson Planet Community. 

Writing Guide

Cathy Neushul