Five Things to Know about Writing Better Grant Proposals
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – Understand your funding source's interests. Make sure a match exists between grantee and grantmaker.
2. KNOW THE NEED FOR YOUR PROJECT – Understand what market exists for your project. Make sure you understand the needs of your target population. Examine what similar organizations are doing locally, regionally, and nationally.
3. KNOW YOUR ABILTIES – Understand why your organization is the one to carry out this project. Capture momentum and build your narrative on your strengths. Address weaknesses only when you articulate your intention to strengthen them.
4. KNOW HOW TO EVALUATE RESULTS - Understand how you are going to measure the process and outcomes of your project. Prove to the funder(s) that you are launching a meaningful endeavor and you are serious about its success. Show the funder(s) that their money is being well spent.
5. KNOW YOUR RESOURCES - Understand the talented individuals who are involved with the project and encourage them to share knowledge. Release your hold on the text and encourage everyone to feel a sense of ownership and authorship. Complement human resources with powerful and credible sources of information.
Grant Writing Helpful Hints and Information Sources
- Keep a general file with information about your school, your student body, etc., so that it is ready when you need it.
- Be specific. Identify an educational problem and how technology will help solve it.
- Know your objectives and how you are going to evaluate them. Show accountability.
- Work as a team with other teachers. The more resources, the better.
- Keep it to the point. Read the application requirements carefully.
- Don't forget to establish a budget. You will be asked to justify it in your proposal.
- Don't give up! It usually takes a few submissions to get it right, but once you do, the results are worth it!
Where to Look
- Many district grant programs encourage developing model projects and programs for sharing them, so it helps to focus on instructional objectives and practicality for replication.
- Ask about Title I/Chapter 1 funds.
- Your state department of education is the best source of information. Technology can play a role in most other funding categories, such as professional development, alternative assessment, and school improvement.
Discretionary federal funds are awarded on a competitive basis. Your proposal for these awards may be broader in scope and may require you to work with outside sources. Call your local university to check on how you can work with them on teaming for federal funding grants.
The Foundation Center
One of the best sources of information about funding. Call for sources nearest you, 1-800-424-9836.
The Federal Register
The Federal Register provides listings of federal grants currently open for application. Published five times weekly, it is usually available at libraries or regional education centers.
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
This is a guide to all of the programs sponsored by the federal government. Available in public libraries, or from the Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 202-512-0132.
The Educational Foundation of America
This foundation is interested in funding grass-roots education projects on an ongoing basis. Those with community-based educational technology proposals should contact the Foundation at 203-226-6498.
Funding Sources Database
Contains over 2,000 sources searchable by key words. Updated each March, listings detail funding preferences, restrictions, and application guidelines. Call 1-800-923-3317.
Federal Information Centers
Located in 21 cities across the United States, these facilities address questions about the federal government's services, programs, and regulations, and will do research to help you find out information. To find the closest Federal Information Center, check your telephone directory under federal government listings.
DIALOG Information Services
An on-line database to access information on foundation grants, 1-800-334-2564.
The Educator's Guide for Developing and Funding Educational Technology Solutions
Written by John Crandler, a developer of the California Model Technology Project and an associate of the Northwest Regional Laboratory. A new guide to preparing funding proposals for educational technology. For more information, contact Educational Support Systems, Hillsborough, CA, 415-433-7046.
Capitol Publications, Inc.
Offers a number of print titles related to grant writing, including Writing Grant Proposals That Win, Corporate Philanthropy Report, Grants for Teachers: A Guide to Federal and Public Funding, and Education Grants Alert. For more information, contact Capitol Publications, Inc., 1101 King St., Box 1453, Alexandria, VA 22313-2053, 1-800-221-0425.
The Cybergrant System
A new online bulletin board that offers information about education news and grant opportunities. There is a subscription fee, but Cybergrant is offering a free trial period. For more information, set your modem to 8-N-1 and dial 703-768-3471.
Bring Business and Community Resources into Your Classroom.
A free how-to booklet on business-education partnerships from the National Education Association, 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, 202-822-7207.
The Catalog of Federal Education Grants
Capital Publications, Inc., 1-800-655-5597.
Chapter 1 Flexibility: A Guide to Opportunities in Local Projects
Compensatory Education Programs Section, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202, 202-759-2000.
Liedtke, Jane A. "Strengthening Support for Technology Education through Grant Writing." The Technology Teacher 51.4 (January 1992): 32-34.
In a day of frequent budget cuts, successful grant writing is necessary to support technology education. Liedtke says we can write grant proposals to . . .
- buy new education equipment
- improve technology education curriculum
- explore new technologies
- support professional development including sabbaticals
- fund conferences and workshops
- support student clubs and professional associations
- and promote pre-college enrichment programs, especially for minority students.
Liedtke also says the we can increase faculty involvement with the following strategies:
- workshops and seminars
- goal setting exercises
- team approaches to grant writing
- links between public schools and universities
- links with business and industry
- involving graduate students
- and setting aside planned time for grant writing.
Gothberg, Helen M. and Edith H. Ferrell. "New Sources on Grants and Grant Writing." Reference Services Review 21.2 (Summer 1993): 17-30.
The authors provide an overview of grant writing books, grant funding sources indexes, and on-line grant information databases. All of the entries have been written or updated since 1987. Following are some of the interesting book titles they discuss along with the two on-line data bases:
- Foundation Center's User-Friendly Guide: Grantseekers' Guide to Resources: New York: Foundation Center, 1990. Upbeat and easy-to-read style.
- Gilpatrick, Ileanor G. Grants for Nonprofit Organizations: a Guide to Funding and Grant Writing. New York: Praeger, 1989. Step-by-step guide through the basics of grant writing.
- Gooch, Judith. Writing Winning Proposals. Washington, D. C.: Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 1987. Brief and Basic approach to grant writing.
- Lefferts, Robert. Getting a Grant in the 1990s: How to Write Successful Grant Proposals. New York: Prentice Hall, 1990. Applies modern business techniques including marketing theory to the grant seeking process.
- Ogdon, Thomas E. Research Proposals: A Guide to Success. New York: Raven Press, 1991. Author shares his 30 plus years of grant writing experience.
- Reif-Leher, Liane. Writing a Successful Grant Application. 2nd ed. Boston: Jones and Barlett, 1989. Great depth--laid out in a way that is easy to browse.
Reeve, Edward M., and Davis V. Ballard. "A Faculty Guide to Writing Grant Proposals." Community Technical and Junior College Journal 63.4 (February/March 1993): 29-31.
Large universities typically generate much of their income through grants proposed by faculty members. In a day of decreasing budgets, community college faculty also must learn to generate funding through successful grant writing.
Ways to find funding sources that match your needs include . . .
- talking to the grants' office at your institution
- talking with other faculty who have successfully received grants
- searching computer databases such as The Foundation Directory, Federal Education Grants Index, and Corporate Foundation Profiles
- checking with state agencies
- checking with government agencies through sources such as The Federal Register and specific agency newsletters.
Effective proposals, which may be written by an interdisciplinary team, will include . . .
- a motivating cover letter that dramatizes need
- a clear, descriptive, and memorable title page
- a concise abstract
- an introduction that establishes credibility
- a statement of need that establishes relevancy
- a list of measurable objectives
- a detailed and credible methods section
- an evaluation section that answers "so what?"
- a plan for publishing results that ensures positive exposure for the funding source
- a detailed budget
- a personal vita presented in an appendix.