Education Grants: 5 Guidelines to Win One

education grant
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Getting an education grant when so many schools and districts are searching for funds requires having a winning strategy. And having a good strategy prevents the process from seeming overwhelming. 

Begin by devising a plan for how you will develop the proposal. You can do it on paper or even use project management software to help keep you organized. 

The tasks to include are: define priorities, assign responsibilities, create a schedule, and stick to deadlines. You’ll also need to communicate with your team and measure progress. You can use the guidelines below (these make a great checklist!) to make sure you’re on track to create a winning proposal. To make it all manageable, you can break down what you should do into five categories.

But first things first. Be sure that your ideas and needs match the education grant. If so, you’re ahead of the game. Many people see dollar signs or read the word ‘technology’ in a proposal and don’t really address what the funder wants to accomplish. 

Second, be sure to dovetail your ideas with those outlined in your school or district’s long-range plans. It’s helpful to show how you will further the goals of the wider community. 

Third, be clear about who the students are that the project will serve. Show how your ideas will make an important difference in their ability to think and learn and in their achievement. 

Fourth, having the right team, people with the specific abilities to do the work you outline in the proposal, makes all the difference. And there should be an underlying support of materials and professional development to assist teachers and coaches in working with the students. 

Fifth and last, focus on students and ideas; don’t focus on the technology. And don’t write the proposal as a wish list of things you want. You need to show how technology will support your idea. It’s very important that the technology you request will make a real difference. Be specific. 

1. Match your ideas and needs to what the education grant funder is looking for 

  • Do you clearly understand the mission of the funder?
  • Is this the best organizational match for your funding request?
  • Is your idea compelling? Does it show your commitment?
  • Have you matched your answers to the grant’s selection criteria?
  • Is your budget realistic?

2. Align your ideas and needs to the school and/or district’s plan (short term/long term) for the future 

  • Does the education grant proposal tie into what the school or district wants to achieve in the next year or two?
  • Does the proposal tie into what the school or district has stated it wants to achieve for it’s long term mission?
  • Does your proposal reflect best practices for instruction and learning?
  • Does your application include a clear summary that articulates your vision for the project and need for the money within the context of the school or district?
  • Have you included research data or statistics to support your concept?
  • Have you defined success and how you will measure the effectiveness of the project throughout the duration of the grant?
  • Do you have stakeholder buy-in?
  • Have you conveyed what the impact will be on your school or district if you are successful?
  • Is your budget detailed and realistic?

3. Match your ideas and needs to the specific student population 

  • Is your education grant idea meaningful to student learning?
  • Is your idea powerful for student learning? Will it have an important effect?
  • Is it clear how you will implement your proposal?
  • Does your proposal for funds include a sense of urgency?
  • Are there specific, measurable goals and objectives?
  • Is there alignment of your needs, goals, and objectives?

4. Fit your ideas and needs to the school/district’s capacities 

  • Have you allocated staff time to manage the project?
  • Have you outlined the contributions of the people associated with the application and how their expertise is critical to the project’s success?
  • Have you cross checked the timeline against the budget?
  • Do you have a plan in place to submit progress reports as required by the grant?
  • Have you addressed sustainability after the funds are spent?
  • How will the needs of the community be met moving forward? Is the project replicable by others?

5. Match your technology requests to your ideas and needs 

  • Have you defined the technology required for each part of the proposal?
  • Have you outlined how technology is essential in implementing the grant goals?
  • Have you shown how technology can be used to improve student achievement and/or staff development?
  • Have you tied the technology expenses to the proposed budget?

One last tip

Keep the grant criteria in mind as you write your proposal. That will help guide you to address everything and will improve the likelihood of your proposal’s success.  

Gwen Solomon was Founding Director of The School of the Future in New York City, Coordinator of Instructional Technology Planning for New York City Public Schools, and Senior Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Instructional Technology. She has written and co-authored several books and many magazine articles on educational technology.