Grant Guru Tip #9 by Gary Carnow: Collaboration May Get You Somewhere

In this time of Web 2.0 we have blogs, wikis, social networking sites and powerful on-line tools to assist us in the grant-seeking process. As Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams point out in their book Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, collaboration isn’t what it used to be. When you think about collaboration, what comes to your mind? In the past, writing a grant proposal was strengthened by collaboration. Last year’s collaboration–scheduling face-to-face meetings, brainstorming as a group, setting goals, etc., is, as they say, so last year. New web tools now make it easier for you to collaborate and create as a group. We have yet to realize the mass collaboration aspects of these tools. Tapscott and Williams point out, “Collaboration, publication, peer review, and exchange of pre-competitive information are now becoming keys to success in the knowledge-based economy.” Imagine how much richer a proposal would be with the assistance of many collaborators. (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, page 153).

There are at least two kinds of collaboration in the preparation of a grant proposal. The first kind is who internally in your organization will collaborate with you in preparing and caring out the proposal? The second kind of collaboration comes from outside entities that you involve to create strategic alliances with and team up with for greater grant success.

Grantwriters typically find that collaboration is an essential ingredient in preparing a grant proposal. By collaborating, you are showing your potential funder that your solution has involved many different points of view. The collaborating individuals and agencies will help your school community come together to provide your students with the best possible approach at solving the issues that are at the heart of your proposal.

I am constantly amazed at the generosity of local and regional individuals when I approach them to be part of my grantseeking team. As a grantseeker, it’s important for me to think about how all collaborators can benefit, not just my school or school district. This makes my pitch for assistance so much easier. Having a good solid idea that I am passionate about will usually sell itself. When seeking a large grant with a complex set of activities and required evaluation elements, collaboration is essential. Who you approach depends upon the program you are seeking. A university’s school of education may be a natural partner. University professors are interested in researching and publishing. Your school district probably has some strong ties with a local college or university; your job is to follow-up on leads provided to you by your administrators.

Local business and service organizations can also provide you with valuable input and support for your program. People in your local community are most interested in helping students and teachers in communities, which are geographically close. Many larger businesses may even provide incentives for employees who assist local schools. As you prepare your proposal, don’t forget to tap the resources of retired teachers. Many retirees love to give back to the school’s that have been so much a part of their working life. Parents are another great resource. Involving parents early will build support for your program.

When you ask for help, it is important to know what you are asking for. You should have a clear idea of the problem that your grant addresses and of the solution to your problem that you are proposing. When asking a resource to assist you, be specific in what you what them to do. Have a meeting schedule, your plan of action and a list of duties ready to go for those who say yes. Some people will want to give it some thought and some people are too busy at this moment in time to assist. Always keep a door open and ask them for a recommendation of someone who might be able to lend a hand.

Dr. Gary A. Carnow serves as the Director of Technology and Information Services for the Alhambra Unified School District. Dr. Carnow is the co-author of two software products published by Knowledge Adventure. He is also the co-author of three books, Prolific Thinkers (1986, Dale Seymour Publications), Software-in-a-Book: The Cruncher (2001, Teacher Created Materials), and Software-in-a-Book: KidWorks Deluxe (2001, Teacher Created Materials). He has authored numerous publications and learning resources for Apple, IBM, Scholastic, and others.