Go Team!

from Technology & Learning

Get those funds rolling in by drafting a year-round grants team.

Individual school sites often rely on one or two people to seek out and apply for grants or quickly pull together a writing team when a funding opportunity presents itself. But your school can pursue a more effective strategy. Establish a site-level grant committee that works throughout the year to bring additional dollars to the school's coffers. Use the remainder of this school year to lay the groundwork so the committee is fully operational next fall. Here are suggestions for designing a winning grant team.

Identify specific needs for your site. Most grants are designed to help recipients fill a gap. What challenges are you facing at your site and how can additional funding help meet those needs? Prepare a brief description of your school, including data that supports the statements of need. This will help the committee set priorities and focus its efforts on finding appropriate grant opportunities.

Establish a committee that crosses grade levels or disciplines and represents all stakeholders. You want good researchers, writers, proofreaders, and budget builders, but you also need buy-in from all stakeholders. Balanced committee membership can guarantee you get both. Plan to include five to seven members who are reliable hard workers and also have cred ibility in the school community. In addition to staff members, consider recruiting parent and commu nity leaders.

Send the entire committee to a grant writing workshop. Grant writing requires a specific skill set. An up-front investment in training the team will pay for itself many times over. In addition to learning grant writing basics, this is an excellent opportunity for committee members to build working relationships that will strengthen the team and support collaboration.

Work as a standing committee. Meet regularly to research funding opportunities and to share information, and develop a plan for keeping the school community informed of the committee's activities. When it's time, write as a team. If possible, provide substitutes so teachers can work on proposals during the regular school day.

Susan Brooks-Young is an educational consultant and writer.