Tuesday, October 30

The Money Mom: The search for grants

The search for grants can be broken into four basic parts: needs assessment, funder research, grant writing, and implementation or spending the money. In this post, I'll explain the first component, needs assessment.

Needs assessment means deciding what are the biggest problems at your school that can be helped by grants. In some schools, this might be science kits or refurbishing a community room. In my school the principal was going deaf because the lunch room has no sound insulation, so we applied for money to install acoustic panels. Also, kids seemed to never go out on field trips, so we asked for money to send them on field trips to orchards and symphony halls. Some grants are for special programs like visiting artists or conflict resolution training.

One thing I have learned about program grants is they need to fit in a busy teacher’s day, so it’s best if they support the existing curriculum, or else bring in special experiences that will free up teachers’ time to work with small groups of kids. For instance, if children leave the classroom for a piano lesson a half-class at a time, the remaining half can be given their math lesson with more personal attention.

The four parts of the grant search can be delegated to different people working on the grants team: one can canvass parents and teachers for grant ideas, and others can do the internet research for grants. That job is good for people who can only do work on their own time, late at night when the kids have gone to bed.

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