Grant Writing for Beginners: Part 1

from Technology & Learning

Four tips on how to write an effective grant application.

Very few teachers or administrators have had any formal training in grant writing. To that end, the GrantSuccess system, an efficient, four- stage, team-based approach to writing a successful grant application, was developed. Here, we start with tips from the first stage.

Review the Request for Funding Proposal

Before writing a grant application, one person should review the RFP. This person should then create three Word documents labeled Action Summary, Grant Writing Guide, and Key Vocabulary. Put the RFP and these three documents in a folder on your computer desktop, for easy access. As you read the RFP, list any actions that are required for a successful submission. Every RFP has a Grant Narrative section that includes headings such as Abstract, Needs, Objectives, Budget, and Summary. List these headings on the Grant Writing Guide you created and include any information that says what is expected for each section. For example, the rubric for evaluating each narrative section is often included somewhere in the RFP. Putting this rubric and language close to where you are writing will improve your text development. As you read the RFP, you will notice terminology and phrases that are central to the RFP language and presentation. When you find these terms, such as "program-based integration" or "curriculum-focused implementation," put them on the Key Vocabulary document. Print out this document and place it where you can see it as you are working on the Grant Writing Guide. By creating these three documents, you shouldn't have to refer to the RFP again.

Review Funding Sources

Most novice grant writers are unfamiliar with the Foundation Center. This site references thousands of foundations and has its own search engine and vocabulary. It is easy to use and provides links to many potential funding sources. Take a look at it.

Name the Grant Application

I encourage faculty to name their applications. If the RFP funds technology, you might call the grant application "Project TECH." Then use the name Project TECH to start sentences in the application: "The Project TECH Leadership Team will have four members." By the time the grant reader is done reviewing the application, Project TECH has appeared so many times that the reviewer may believe it already exists!

Don't Use Personal Pronouns

Novice grant writers tell stories and use personal pronouns to do it. Their grant applications are filled with phrases like "our school," "my classroom," "we will," and "our grant." Grant writing is not creative writing. It is technical writing. Avoid the use of personal pronouns. Start your technical writing habits by naming your project and then use that name to start sentences.

Stay tuned for more writing and editing tips next month.

Dr. Douglas Brooks is a professor in the School of Education, Health and Society at Miami University, and he developed GrantSuccess.