The Fifth Step: Gathering Information & Obtaining the Grant Application
By Don Peek
Over the past several months I have shared steps one through four to follow as you attempt to secure grant money for your school. Those first four steps include: 1. Understanding the hurdle(s)/issue(s) your school faces. 2. Developing a solution to address those issues. 3. Finding all possible grants to fund your solution. 4. Matching your needs with likely grant sources.
Step five is obtaining the actual grant applications for your top one or two grant matches and gathering all the information you need to complete those applications.
First and foremost, you need to understand a grantor’s application process and obtain an application form far enough in advance of the deadline so you are not rushed when it comes time to fill it out. If you plan ahead, you are much more likely to submit a competitive grant application.
You should be aware that different organizations use different types of grant applications. Quite a few foundations require no more than a letter that details your school's problem, your planned solution, and a budget that details the money you need. That letter takes the place of a formal application. In other cases, some groups of foundations use common grant applications. But most foundations, states, and federal agencies use unique, detailed applications for each grant they sponsor. Grant seekers must obtain the specific application required to apply for each grant.
The type of application required for each grant you seek is typically listed on the grantor’s website. In many cases, you will find, complete, and submit your application without ever leaving the grantor’s site. More often, however, grantors provide applications you can download to your computer and print out at your convenience.
Finally, some grantors require you to submit a request for an application in writing. If the grantor has a website, an email usually meets this requirement, and the application will be mailed or emailed to you. If the grantor does not have a website, both the request for an application and the return of the application will be accomplished using regular mail.
It's important to know all the details of the application process up front so you can plan your time well and not be rushed.
Once you obtain the application, read it thoroughly -- several times. Concentrate on the different kinds of information you will need in order to complete the application. Although quite a bit of the application will require you to supply information in narrative form, you will likely need statistics from several sources to verify your need for help. You will also have to develop a budget for your project.
Before you actually begin completing an application, gather all the reference materials and statistical information you will likely need and find a quiet place to work. Make time so you can complete the application without interruption. You don't want to interrupt your writing every 15 minutes to look for some vital piece of information that you should have at your fingertips. Your writing should flow, and it will only do so if you’ve gathered all the tools and information before you sit down to write.
You will be two steps ahead of your competition if you have carefully read the application and gathered all the materials you will need to complete it without interruption. Good planning is a vital part of the grant application process.
Don Peek is an expert in school funding. He has run The School Funding Center since 2001. Its database contains over 100,000 grants available to all types of schools in the United States. Don worked in education for 20 years as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent before becoming the VP then the president of the training division of Renaissance Learning, developer of the Accelerated Reader.