Is your school door open for new funding opportunities?
As students return from summer, school doors open wide to many continuing and emerging challenges. Administrators stand just inside their buildings, facing a changing landscape of diversity, new technologies, urgency over increasing student performanceÑand major trends in federal education policy, and including:
Efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Increased support for STEM and early learning
Expanded charter school funding, vouchers and other choice options
More federal block grants
Improvements in teacher preparation
Increased funding for E-rate and changes in how funds can be used
State flexibility waivers issued by U.S. Department of Education
Reduced funding for the Race to the Top initiative
These factors present a gateway to new prospects for funding and raising student achievement. But why should you spend time seeking and applying for grant funds?
Economics & organization
First and foremost, there is the economic advantage of getting a grant. Governments and the private sector award billions of grant dollars for projects every year, and the time invested applying for the grant is small compared to the reward at the end.
Pursuing grant funds also enables you to perform an inside organizational audit of your school or district. The initial stages of developing a grant proposal force you to focus your priorities and clarify your mission.
Just seeking a grant requires you to strategically align your goals with those of the funder. This process will reveal whether you have the time, resources, support and capacity to pursue and manage the grant.
Designing a grant proposal can build and strengthen external partnerships. Many grants look to fund schools or districts that can leverage their partnerships with institutions of higher education, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based groups and other organizations.
Defining roles, responsibilities and outcomes with outside partners shows strong commitment to the solution being proposed. This also increases the probability the project will thrive beyond the grant period.
Team building is another part of the grant process that positively impacts school improvement plans, technology initiatives and other programs. Whether you have a writer or hire a writer, the grant proposal process is a team activity, and its success hinges on all members working toward the goal.
From the needs assessment to the evaluation, individual knowledge and skills must come together to form the whole. When staff members are involved in this problem-solving process, it hones their communication skills and builds strong teachers and leaders.
Finally, grant writing supports scalability. You can expand or promote programs that have a proven record of success, and demonstrate your dedication to your mission statement. Winning a grant fosters positive publicity for your school or district, and it breeds other opportunities for new funding in the future.
So as the new school year starts, keep the door open for potential funding opportunities. The benefits are vast if you take the chance to develop financial resources for your school or district. DA
Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.