8 Things to Do Before You Write a Grant Proposal

write a grant proposal
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“Money is tight this year.” 

While that’s an ongoing lament, it is especially true during this time of pandemic crisis. School districts have been through tough times and have stretched their resources to the limit. 

Whether your school is open for students or is doing all remote learning, the need for special program funds is as important as ever. Writing a grant proposal takes time and thought. Before you even start writing, there are some actions you can take to think through your ideas and make your requests as strong as possible.

1. Have a solid idea and enough supporting details 

Grant givers are looking for strong proposals. Think through your ideas and make sure they are important for student learning. Honorable but vague intentions are not enough. Create a list of supporting information, including both your students’ needs and creative ways to address these so you can prove to the grant readers that you know what you’re doing. 

2. Read the grant guidelines carefully 

The amount of funding may be enticing but before you do anything, make sure that this is the right grant to meet your needs. “Sort of” isn’t good enough. Don’t bend either your idea or what the grant is asking for to fit. Take the time to research who the funding organization is, and you’ll know more about what they are looking for. 

3. Build commitment to the idea 

You aren’t alone in planning for a grant. Communicate your ideas and build support for the project among your stakeholders. Those who will be involved should discuss, plan, and agree to contribute not only to the project but also to the grant-writing process. They should also agree to carry out the plan if your grant writing efforts are successful. 

4. Evaluate the amount of funding 

Make sure that the amount of money in the grant is sufficient for your needs. Determine what staff and equipment you will need for your program and see if this grant will cover it. If it doesn’t, you can always combine funds. Think about what other sources of funding you can tap. 

5. Determine people resources 

Be sure of your ability to carry out the plan and the commitment of your supervisors, personnel you’ve tapped for the project, and the community. 

6. Get outside funders 

There may be community support programs that provide small amounts of money in case you need some additional funding, such matching funds and community programs. Reach out to potential partners and local organizations so they are aware of your plan and enthusiastic about the ideas. 

7. Read the directions 

Review the grant instructions carefully and follow advice from the experts on how to write proposals. The Tech & Learning grant writing guide has advice. Others in the district who have written grant proposals can help, and the grant giver may provide instructions, which you should follow exactly. 

8. Set deadlines 

It’s easy to put off things so set timelines for your team to write their sections and do whatever is needed. And be sure you follow your own deadlines to write and assemble the parts of your proposal, get signatures, and make the copies you need. Try to be ahead of schedule; build in a buffer in case the process takes longer than expected.

Next time, we’ll go over the parts of a grant proposal so you know what work is ahead of you and your team.

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.