Writing Grants: Resources for Teachers

Getting Started 

Hello! This post is the second in a series about grant-writing for educators. If you missed the first part, be sure to check out How to Write Grants: Ideas and Examples for K-12 Teachers. Then keep reading below for even more grantwriting tips. The information below is also available as an eBook for free download. 

Collaboration 

Sometimes the best ideas are born out of collaboration. Before you begin your grant-writing process, it may be helpful to identify someone you can partner with in this process. 

Talking your ideas through with another colleague, your administration team, or even your students can often help you come up with more creative ideas than you would have been able to on your own. 

Your Narrative! 

Some grants will be much simpler than others when it comes to crafting your narrative. In some cases, funders may only be looking for a quick project description. 

In other cases, your proposal may need to include some or all of the following elements: Objectives, Need Statement, Project Description, Timeline, Budget, Logic Model, Evaluation Plan, Letters of Support, and/or Sustainability Plan. Each of these elements are described in more detail below. 

Be sure to compose each section in a compelling way that your grant readers will understand. Remember, your audience may not be experts in your field, so you will want to write in a way that is clear and explanatory. Avoid using acronyms (or if you must, be sure to detail exactly what those acronyms mean). 

You will also want to be concise. 

The most popular grant programs may receive hundreds (if not thousands) of submissions and grant readers may not want to wade through a wall of text to find what really matters. As you compose each section of your application, think about how to make your grant stand out by capturing your ideas in well-organized and succinct narratives. 

Objectives 

Unlike a project goal which may be exceptionally broad and visionary, your objective should be narrow and precise. You may want to consider framing your objective using the SMART structure: Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. 

There are variations of the SMART framework out there, so feel free to use the one that you are most comfortable with. Using the SMART framework to describe your objective will ensure that your goal is clear and understandable to grant reviewers. 

Evaluation is an important component of almost any grant (see below), so when you are writing your objective, consider how you will evaluate whether or not your goal has been met. Use the table below for some sample language prompts that can be used for writing your objective(s). 

Sample SMART Language 

    Specific – What outcomes you are hoping for? 
        · “Teacher / Students will [specific activity]…” 
        · “As a result of X, each teacher/student will” 

    Measurable – What tools will you use to measure success? 
        · “as measured by X assessment” 
        · “as evidenced by…” 

    Achievable/Attainable – Is your objective appropriate (not too easy and not too hard) given your current resources and capacity? 
        · Use a strong action verb 
        · Include numbers and/or percentages 

    Relevant – Why are you doing this work? How does your objective relate to stated needs? 
        · “to address [description of challenge] 
        · “because [state rationale]” 

    Time-Bound – When will you accomplish this work? 
        · “by the end of the 20XX-20XX school year” 
        · “after [X event / date]” 

Need Statement 

The need statement is the part of the application where you will present evidence that your project is addressing a pressing challenge or problem. You will likely want to start by including some basic demographic information that is relevant the need you have identified. 

Your need statement should include a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. Make sure your qualitative data, like facts and statistics, are as up-to-date as possible. Your qualitative data, including anecdotes or stories, should persuade the reader through human interest. If applicable, you may also want to include relevant research or quotes from authorities on the topic can support the claims you are making. 

Your need statement should be a balanced between an appeal to rational thinking through facts and an appeal to emotion through compelling stories. Make sure that your writing is direct and concise. 

Project Description 

How will your project support student needs? Think of your project description as a compelling story. You will want to engage the reader by painting a clear picture of how your ideas will address the needs you have identified. 

What activities will you include in your project to accomplish your goal? Why did you choose those activities? Be clear and concise about ideas and your rationale. Your project description should be persuasive in nature. 

You want to convince the reader that your project is worth funding because it is innovative and realistic. 

Timeline 

What will your timeline of implementation look like? Even if the funding is designed to support a single, standalone activity like a field trip, including a detailed timeline will show the funders that you are serious about planning and organization. 

Break your project down into discrete elements. If you are funding a field trip, when will you send home parent/guardian permission letters? When will you order the bus or reserve event tickets? Having a plan in place for each and every element of your grant proposal will demonstrate your organization skills. 

You may also want to include who is responsible for each of the proposed activities and how much funding will be dedicated to each of the activities listed. A simple graphic organizer, like the one listed below, can be a great way to create a visual timeline. 

Sample Grant Timeline 

[Grant Name] - Implementation Timeline 
[Your Project Name] 
[Your Name, Title, School / District Name] 

Month, Year         Grant Submission Deadline 
Month, Year         Expected Grant Notification 
Month, Year         Initial Data Collection 
Month, Year         Other Grant Activities (as applicable) 
Month, Year         Other Grant Activities (as applicable) 
Month, Year         Other Grant Activities (as applicable) 
Month, Year         Final Data Collection 
Month, Year         Final Report Submitted 

Budget 

The budget section is a good place demonstrate your attention to detail. You will want to be as detailed as possible in this section so that grant funders know you will be a good steward of their resources. Be sure to choose a budget table format that is clear to understand. Know what the minimum and maximum funding amounts are and ensure that your total fits squarely within that range. 

When you list each of the items in your budget, you will want to be clear and concise about what it is you are actually requesting. Look up item specifications online and include those when possible. Your funders may not be experts in your field of education, so spell out any acronyms you use and be sure each item you list is described in more detail in your project narrative. 

It is easy to overlook certain costs in your budget. Being thorough in your budget table will demonstrate your thoughtfulness and make it easier when it comes time for implementation. If you have any personnel costs (i.e. substitute teachers or extended time payments), you will want to find out what the fringe benefit costs are. Fringe benefits include the taxes and other benefits that your district is required to pay employees, even on grant-funded projects. 

You will also want to consider costs like shipping and taxes (if applicable). Most public schools districts are tax exempt and some have special shipping arrangements. Talk to your school’s finance clerk in advance to find out what to expect when it comes to taxes and shipping. If your district takes a percentage for indirect or administrative costs, you will also want to factor that cost into your budget as well. 

The sample budget table below can give you a place to start formatting your grant budget – again, keep in mind which costs are allowable and unallowable under your particular grant! 

Sample Budget Format 

[Grant Name] – Budget Table 
[Your Project Name] 
[Your Name, Title, School / District Name] 

Item Description        Quantity         Amount Requested 

Personnel                        
Fringe Benefits                
Materials and Supplies 
Equipment 
Travel 
Indirect Expenses 
TOTAL 

Logic Model 

Some grants may require a logic model. A logic model is a type of graphic organizer that can demonstrate to grant funders how your proposed grant activities connect with identified needs and grant objectives. Logic models can be a helpful way to illustrate the relationships between each of the components of your grant proposal and they can also provide a useful framework for the evaluation of your grant. 

Logic models generally include descriptions of the inputs (the resources needed for your project), the outputs (the activities included in your project and what those activities will produce) and the outcomes and impacts (the changes and benefits that will ultimately result from your work). A sample logic model is included below. 

Sample Logic Model Format 

Name of Grant – Logic Model 
[Grant Proposal Title] 
[Your Name, Title, School / District Name] 

Problem Statement: What are the problems or needs that you have identified? 

Goal: What is the goal of your grant project? 

Rationale: What is the underlying rationale for your grant idea? 

Inputs: What inputs do you need to make your grant project successful? 

Activities: What activities does your grant project include? 

Outputs: What are the direct results of those activities? 

Outcomes: Describe the difference made by the outputs (Short Term / Medium Term / Long Term).

Impact: Describe the effects of your grant project in broad terms. 

Evaluation Plan 

Most funders will appreciate (and sometimes require) an evaluation plan for your project. As teachers, we are all well-acquainted with the role data can and should play in decision-making. Think about how you will evaluate the success and effectiveness of your grant project. 

Hopefully, you have already determined an objective for your grant project. Once your objective is set, work towards coming up with a plan to determine whether or not that objective has been met. 

There are many options for collecting data in the classroom setting. Data is often divided into two types: quantitative and qualitative. 

Quantitative data are measurable and quantifiable. Examples of quantitative data you could use include student test scores, attendance rates, certain survey results, and graduation rates. 

Qualitative data, in contrast, is not based on numbers, but can be used to describe or characterize the results of your work in a more holistic way. Qualitative data can include student work, portfolios, anecdotal records, student surveys and interviews, and even classroom artifacts. 

Letters of Support 

Some grants will require a letter of support from an administrator. Think of the letter of support as a pseudo letter of recommendation. You will want it to highlight your needs and how your proposed project will address those needs. When you approach your administrator, it would be a good idea to come prepared with specific details about the grant, how it would benefit your students and/or school and the ways in which you are suited to lead this project. 

Administrators are busy professionals too, and sharing as many details as possible will help to ensure that your letter of support accurately reflects your needs, passion and vision for the project you are proposing. In addition to providing your administrator with information about the grant itself and your ideas for implementation, it may also be helpful to share a sample letter of support so that your administrator has an idea what you or the grant funders are looking for. There are many sample letters of support available online that you can use as a reference. I have also included a sample letter of support here that you are welcome to adapt for your own grant needs. 

Sample Letter of Support 

Your letter of support should be written on school or district letterhead whenever possible. Feel free to use the format below to help you get started. Again, there are many more samples online that can be used to help you craft a unique and compelling letter of support for your grant proposal. 

School / District Name 
Address Line 1 
City, State, Zip 

Date 

Grant Funding Organization 
Address Line 1 
City, State, Zip 

To Whom It May Concern: 

It is my pleasure to write a letter in support of the proposal “[Title of Grant Proposal]” being submitted to [Grant Funding Organization or Competition Name] by [Your Name] at [School / District Name]. 

[Your Name] is a full-time teacher in our [Grade Level / Department] and is seeking to [Your Grant Objectives]. This paragraph should also list some basic demographic information about your school or district and explain the ways in which your grant project will meet identified needs within the school. 

In conclusion, I fully support the efforts of [Your Name] and the [Grade Level / Department] as they seek external funding to support this initiative. Add more details here about how the grant will benefit your school or district. The administrative team looks forward to the opportunities that the [Grant Name] will provide for [School / District Name]. 

Sincerely, 
Name of Administrator 
Title

Sustainability 

Any discussion around grant-writing would be remiss not to talk about sustainability. Whether or not your grant applications requires you to discuss sustainability, you will want to find a place to incorporate this idea somewhere in your proposal. Sustainability refers to how a project will be carried on over time. 

While there are certainly some grant funds that are designed for one-time uses (like those that fund field trips or special events), you should generally view grants as an opportunity to build capacity. Grants are not a permanent, renewable source of funding and so you should have a plan for how to maximize your use of grant funding to continue impacting student learning beyond the grant cycle. 

Thinking about sustainability will require you to think long-term. How will the funds you receive create permanent and lasting change? What is your plan for carrying on this work when you no longer have access to grant funds? Demonstrating that you have thought about how to make your idea sustainable in the future will make it clear to grant funders that your grant project is a good investment. 

Editing and Proofreading 

Before submitting your grant, you should take steps to make sure that your proposal is clear and well-written. I highly suggest seeking out feedback from another person – perhaps a colleague, friend or family member. Ask them to read over your proposal and highlight any areas that are unclear or confusing. Ask them to summarize your project to see if your message and goals are being communicated effectively in writing. 

Your grant should provide a clear window into your students’ strengths and needs and how your project will build on those strengths and effectively address student needs. An outside perspective can provide valuable feedback on whether or not your grant has created a compelling story to capture your ideas and passions. 

What To Do If Your Grant Is Rejected? 

First of all, don’t give up. Some grants can be extremely competitive and sometimes the odds are just not in your favor. Applying for grants means making yourself open to rejection. I sincerely hope that you approach rejections with a growth mindset and see them as opportunities for continued learning. Also, be sure to save your grant! You worked hard on putting your grant together, and it’s possible that you may be able to re-submit your work in another funding cycle or modify your work to submit for another grant program. I would create a folder (either hard copy or digital) to save all the elements of your grant applications for future reference. 

What To Do If Your Grant Is Accepted? 

Congratulations! I hope that this grant will allow you to do amazing things in your classroom. Writing a thank you letter is always in good taste. Depending on the nature of the grant, you may want to consider involving your students, fellow teachers or administrators in writing thank you notes as well. Inviting the grant funders or donors to your school or classroom to see your grant project in action can also be a great way to demonstrate your gratitude and showcase your stewardship. You will also want to be pro-active in documenting the progress and results of your grant so that you will be prepared for any grant reporting requirements and deliverables as described below. 

Managing Your Grant 

Grants will vary in regards to the management required, but in some cases, writing the grant itself may be easiest part of the process. Your work is not over when you receive a grant. If you are selected as a grant recipient, you will want to find out what deliverables are required for your grant. In the grant world, the term deliverables is used to refer to all of the evidence you must submit to the grant funders to demonstrate what you have done with the resources you received. 

At a minimum, you will likely be required to submit at least one budget report. Be sure to keep all of your receipts. If the grant is being run through your school, you will likely want to establish a good relationship with your school’s finance clerk. Schools (and grants) will vary in how funds are ultimately dispersed, but regardless of the financial mechanisms in place, you will want to be sure to do your due diligence in keeping track of what you spend and when. 

Some of the other types of deliverables that may be requested include pictures or videos of grant funds in action, student stories and case studies, records of evaluation related to your grant objective, and even social media engagement. Depending on the timeline of the grant itself and the funding mechanisms of the granting organization, you may be required to submit only one set of deliverables at the end of your project timeline. In other cases, you may be required to report quarterly or semi-annually on the progress you’re making, so be sure to keep good grant records. 

Final Note 

You have made it to the end! I have done my best to capture my own experiences with grant-writing, but I also know that everyone’s experiences may be different. If you still have questions or need additional support with your own grant-writing, please do not hesitate to reach out. From one teacher to another – good luck! 

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