How to Find & Apply for Educational Grants

Instructor: Maryalice Leister

Maryalice has taught secondary and college English and trained new online teachers, and has a master's degree in Online Teaching and Learning.

Educational grants open doors to projects, technology, and teaching units, and fine-tuning application searches and writing makes a difference. Read on to learn how to find and apply for educational grant money.

Every Teacher's Wish List

School administrators and classroom educators are always searching for ways to make both the ordinary and extraordinary possible in teaching. That potential can be restricted due to budget issues, and grants have emerged as a powerful way to bypass financial concerns and open doors to learning opportunities.

Special projects are a focus for grant funding. For instance, let's take a look at teacher John Mills who received information about a science module that would extend learning in the area of robotics. This was a unit that appealed to him for his seventh grade classroom, which was filled with budding engineers. Unfortunately, the necessary technology components were priced out of reach for his small rural school district.

John was sharing coffee and conversation with the district director of curriculum, and she asked if John had considered writing a grant.

'I haven't. I am not sure I would know where to find possibilities and whether I could do the research and writing to convince a corporation to work with our school.'

Her response was simple. 'You won't know until you try. So many websites offer resources for every part of the process. In fact, once you apply for one and receive it, I promise you will be hooked by how to open those closed financial doors.'

Mills thought for a minute and decided his students were worth the effort. He went back to his classroom and flipped on his computer.

The Grants Quest

The Internet has changed the way in which grants are located and submitted. A few decades ago, teachers only knew about grants if the paperwork came across a district administrator's desk and then found its way into a teacher's school mailbox. Many exciting sources for funding never reached the person who would do the necessary work to outline and submit a proposal. Since foundations and corporations build grant awards into their overall business plans and have money to give, the lack of project submissions can be frustrating when money goes unused.

Diverse grant listings can now be found across the worldwide web. Start with the general search for the term 'grants,' and sites that focus on aggregating or collecting categorized opportunities appear. Lists include endorsements by well-known non-profits like Rotary International, subject-specific grants underwritten by notable corporations (for example, a study of space exploration funded by NASA), or local, community-driven offerings (like a lake water study by county water treatment initiatives). Sources can appear from federal, state, regional, and community resources, and each level offers different tiers of funding and unique opportunities for teachers and students.

Some teachers search for supportive funding for projects they already have outlined in lesson plans, while others look for funded projects that will underscore classroom objectives. Checking professional sources, such as national content organizations (one example, National Council of Teachers of English), can yield immense opportunities for grants that automatically are aligned with core curriculum standards.

Training in Grant Writing

Educators need to be schooled in the grant writing process from start to finish once they begin to search for and consider submitting grant applications. Many school districts have people on staff who were either trained to help others as part of their position or who have demonstrated success in securing grants. Courses, seminars, webinars, and support communities to assist new grant seekers can also be found online. In addition, local libraries often have people who will connect educators to grant providers as well as walk teachers through the application process.

The grant-writing process, while straightforward and typical from one grant to another, demands deep insight into the reasons for the request, the plan for use of funds from award to completion, and a project constructed for success. Strong writing skills are a must, but even more important is the ability to write with clarity, energy, and complete understanding of the content. Effective grant applications show a comprehensive knowledge of the school district and its priorities, the measurable curriculum objectives, the reasonable timeline, and the expected longevity of the outcomes for students. Not every teacher is prepared to write a winning application in a clear and engaging format, so seeking training support in advance of the process is a plus.

Grant Writing: Start to Finish

The decision to pursue a grant is the first step in a lengthy process. Once the funding opportunity is located and the grant writer has undergone some training to increase the likelihood of filing successfully, here are the remaining steps:

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