They Said It: Gary Carnow offers his tips for developing a concrete plan that will attract the attention of potential funders.
6/29/2012 By: Gary A. Carnow
Talk. Pitch. Do.
In these times of shrinking school budgets, everyone is looking for funds to help their school sustain just the basic needs
for maximizing student achievement.
To set yourself apart from every other school asking for money, you need to develop a concrete plan and be able to
“pitch” it to potential funders.
You can begin by facilitating brainstorming sessions followed by discussions to determine where you are and where
you would like to be. Ask your colleagues, “What are the biggest challenges we face?” This simple question will potentially
lead to a spirited discourse. At the idea generation stage, welcome all suggestions. It’s not uncommon to hear a laundry list
of technology “needs.” Reserve your judgment for later.
Using a template of questions will help your team organize their thoughts and visualize what students and teachers will
do. Asking who, what, when, where, why and how questions will guide your process. These sample questions will get you
started and help you develop a part of your proposal.
• What is the problem? By recognizing your current situation and your target population, you are developing your
needs assessment for your proposal.
• Why is there a problem? Use
data to support your needs. Your data
might be anecdotal (i.e., stories) or
quantitative (i.e., numbers). Your data
often suggests the need.
• What issues are related to the
problem? Isolating the magnitude of
the problem helps your team explore
the causes, social issues, escalation
or recurrence of the problems you
• How will you solve the problem?
The activities you suggest become
your project’s objectives. Describing
specific activities makes your proposal
• How will you measure what you
have done? Your evaluation should
show your funder how your program
works, how you will meet your
objectives, and how you will know the
worth for your efforts.
After you add an introduction,
a milestone activity timeline, and a
budget, you will have a grant proposal.
When you clearly define how you
will get from here to there, you create
the road map for your journey. Your
ability to articulate your message will
help people rally around a shared
cause. Locally committed parents and
educators will go the extra mile to
collectively get you where you want to
go. Your stakeholders are the people
most invested in the academic success
of your students and are your biggest
supporters. If you find a funder, that’s
great. If not, the process may have
been so powerful that you will find a
way to do it without outside funding.
Dr. Carnow is the Chief Technology
Officer for the Pasadena Unified School
District in California.