You Should Be Applying for Grants Now!
By Don Peek

While your school's grant-writing program should have you applying for grants throughout the year, fall is the best time of the year to apply -- especially this year, when school budgets are lagging so far behind needs. So, as many people's thoughts turn to the school football season, fall should be the time when all educators' thoughts turn to the lucrative grant-writing season. This year, you should plan to "gear up" early and submit at least two or three grant applications by the end of fall.

Why is the fall season "grant season"?

Fall is a great time to focus on grant writing for several reasons. First, more grants are available to schools in the fall than at any other time of year. Even though it is true that competition for these grants is stiff, so many grants are available (for such large amounts of money) that every school with needs should be filing several applications. Remember, billions of dollars in grants are given to schools every year. If you don’t apply, some school somewhere else will be getting your share of this money. Why should your school be left out?

Second, you have had the entire summer and early fall to review, digest, and analyze test scores and other relevant data from last school year. It is imperative that you use this data to prove that your school needs this grant money more than other schools that apply. You can collect data throughout the year to use in other applications, but the data from the previous full year is in the very best position to support most grant applications.

Third, the grant money you apply for in the fall will impact results throughout the current school year. Applying for grants during the second semester is fine, but that money can rarely be used to impact the education of your students during this school year. Fall grant money is often distributed in late fall and certainly by the start of the new semester. The key is to apply for grants that will bring in money as soon as possible so that it can have the greatest impact on your students as quickly as possible.

It is not difficult to get schools to agree that they need money. It’s not even difficult to get educators to agree that they should be writing more grants than they do. The most difficult job I have is convincing educators to get started now -- this month, this week. Sure, I know that school is in session, and there are at least a thousand things you need to do, but there is nothing you can do right now that will impact student learning more than gathering grant money to help you fund key programs above and beyond those the bare-bones budget supports.

1) You need to apply for grants in the fall because more grants are available at this time than at any other time of the year.
2) You need to have excellent data from the previous semester and/or school year to support your applications.
3) The grant money you receive will have a direct impact on student learning in the current school year.

Those three strong reasons for applying for grants in the fall should motivate you to start searching for grants today. You’ll get the grant money -- or some other school will. Don’t your students deserve your very best effort?

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.

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