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Monday, June 15, 2009

Foundation Grants...Any Ideas Now?

Those who have written successful grants will tell you that the process requires three elements:
  1. Having a need.
  2. Finding a grant source which will fund that need.
  3. Being able to articulate the need in a compelling way.
Each year, the Talladega City Schools Foundation awards grants. Almost without exception, the grants have taken the form of mini-grants awarded to individual teachers. Even better, since the grants are limited to our school system, the pool of people competing for these grants is greatly diminished. Your chances of being funding don't get any better than what you will find with this source. You have just taken care of #2.

Now, let's look at #1. What is it that you need? Teachers always have needs. The only problem is that for most of us, we think of ideas, and then we forget them. The next time one of those ideas occurs, write it down. When another idea occurs, add it to the list. When it comes time to write your grant, you simply choose from the list.

The creativity comes with #3. If you can move the emotions of the people who are reading your grant, your chances of getting funded skyrocket. Please do not misinterpret what I am saying. Emotion without a solid case is fluff. A solid case without emotion is boredom. Combine substance with emotion and you have a winner.

For most people, writing good prose takes time. It means writing and re-writing and re-writing the re-writes. It involves giving your stuff to someone to read who will be brutally honest and putting on your flame-retardent suit while they tell you what they really think. Then, you re-write again.

I mention the element of time because that seems to be one of the reasons people offer for not submitting grants. The Foundation application has remained unchanged for years. You do not have to wait for what is going to be asked to be magically revealed. You can access that application right now by clicking here. Except for the dates, you are looking at the exact application you are going to be asked to submit. That means you do not have to wait on anyone or anything. If you have an idea, you can put that idea on paper starting now. Time need not be a factor.

If your grant asks for a large amount of money, make it easy for the grantee to partially fund your grant. Half a grant is better than none. You accomplish this objective by including a clear budget that indicates what is essential and what could be purchased later.

With a list of ideas and some well-written prose, you are in position not only to submit a grant proposal to the Foundation, but you are also well-positioned to submit grants to other sources. Time is always on the side of the person who is prepared.

(Thanks to Dani Simmonds for the photograph used in this post.)

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