Grant Writing for Beginners: Part 2

from Technology & Learning

Five more tips on how to write an effective grant application.

Start with the goals.
The hardest part of any grant application is developing a clear statement of project goals.

Well-written goals have a structure: action verb, object of the action, subject of the action, baseline data, outcome data, measure of performance.

For example: Increase K-6 student math achievement from 6.5 to 8.0 on 4th-grade proficiency tests.

A good way to organize technology integration goal statements is to have one that first addresses improved academic performance. From there, I'd explore improved student technology literacy, and then demonstrate improved professional development. The technology tool should be written into the grant application as a support for these goals, not as an end in itself.

Create a project timeline from the goals.
The three goals guide the implementation phases of the grant. I recommend the use of "phases" or "stages" when describing how a grant will be implemented. I always name them, include beginning and ending dates, and provide a one- or two-sentence description.

For example: Phase One: Purchasing and Installation (July 15-August 15, 2008). This phase will include the selection, purchasing, and installation of Project Achieve software and hardware resources. Phase Two: Professional Development (August 15-August 30, 2008). This phase will include teacher-based introduction and support for applications of software and hardware into instructional design.

Create an evaluation plan from the timeline.
Use the phases or stages of the grant application to create your project-evaluation plan. The grant application is strengthened if each phase or stage has its own evaluation component. It reads like a plan to an evaluator. It never hurts to write in an external evaluator to increase objectivity.

Group edit using a large-screen projector and laser pointers.
Set your grant writing team up in a room with a large-screen projection of the draft grant application. Give everyone a laser pointer. Assign your best word processor/keyboarder to the computer. Scroll through the draft text from beginning to end. You will be amazed at the number of errors that can be located and corrected when colleagues are looking at a big screen and can point out the mistakes.

Create the application abstract or summary from the edited text.
These sections do not have to be written separately. They are written using the edited text you have worked to refine. Once you have your final text, you can copy and paste important topic sentences for each section of the narrative into the abstract or summary. Then the grant evaluators read the same content in abstract or summarized form. Your grant will be an organized read from start to finish. Your goals guide your actions. Your actions guide your budget and evaluation plan, and you increase the chance of getting your funding.

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