The Third Step: Finding Possible Grants
By Don Peek
If you want to secure grant money for your school, the first step is to understand in detail the main problems/needs your school faces. The second step -- the subject of the last blog -- is to develop a solution that has the greatest chance to solve that problem. And the third step is to locate all possible grants that might help fund your solution.
Grants available to schools fall into three basic categories: federal grants, state grants, and foundation or corporate grants. Federal and state grants are generally larger, and their applications are longer and more difficult to complete. Foundation and corporate grants typically yield schools less money, but their applications are less complex. That means you can usually fill out several foundation applications in the time it takes to complete one federal or state application.
Many educators attempt to locate grants on the Internet by using search engines or by subscribing to grant newsletters. Those methods tend to be inefficient and end up costing both time and money. The best way to locate potential grants is to use a grant database. The more comprehensive and up-to-date the database, the better it will serve your needs.
Your very best choice for using a grant database is the free one offered by Grants for Teachers. It is large, free, and fairly comprehensive. By far the most comprehensive grant database available to educators is the School Funding Center Grant Database. It contains virtually all federal, state, foundation, and corporate grants available to schools in the United States. Old grants are removed and new grants are posted on a daily basis. The one drawback to using this database is the cost -- $397.00 per year. While relatively expensive, it still saves educators both time and money because of its comprehensive nature. First, use the free database provided by Grants for Teachers. If you need even more grant information, go the database provided by The School Funding Center.
If you are looking specifically for federal grants, another good database to use is ED.gov. This resource comes directly from the federal government, and it is free. It lists every federal education grant available to schools in the United States. It does not list state, foundation, or corporate grants. If you use this grant resource, you will still want to track down discretionary grants for schools.
If you are specifically looking for state grants, your best bet is to go to your state education agency's website. Some of those sites include good grant databases that will help you locate current state grants. Others are not so good -- or worse than that -- and will take a little more work on your part. Go to ED.gov's Education Resource Organizations Directory page to find your state education agency's website. If your state's site does not have "grants" or "funding" listed in its menu bar, type "grants" into the search box on the site to see if you can find listings that way.
If you are specifically looking for foundation grants, your best bet is to go to the Foundation Center. This organization lists thousands and thousands of foundations in its database. Many of those foundations offer grants to schools. The database is good for finding foundation grants, but the subscription cost ranges from $595.00 - $995.00 per year depending on the number of foundations you want listed in your searches. The more comprehensive the database you wish to search, the more your subscription will cost.
While you can find grant listings in many places, if you want to find all of the grants available to you quickly and easily, you will want to use one or more of the grant databases listed above. Remember, grant writers should use their time to write grants, not look for them. Save both time and money by using a good, established school grant database to locate the funding solutions you need in order to improve student achievement.
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.