If one of your goals for the upcoming school year is to raise funding for your school’s programs, the summer is a great time to start planning and researching the foundations you’ll contact in the fall. Before getting started with grant writing, check out these basic guidelines to keep you on track for reaching your school’s fundraising needs.
Fund What You’re Doing Now
It’s easier to fund something you’re doing now than seeking funding for a program that you have yet to create. Does your after-school reading program need new books? Does your science department need updated materials to continue hosting the annual science fair? Consider all the great projects your school currently organizes and the goals those projects have reached. This information will give you ample material to include in a grant application. Foundations are more likely to fund educational organizations that have a proven track record of success but need a boost to continue doing their excellent work.
Establish a Track Record
If you haven’t already, set up a profile and a project with Adopt-A-Classroom.org. It’s easy to set up your profile and project to spread the word, and your friends, family and community members can contribute some initial funds for your project. Setting up an Adopt-A-Classroom.org profile and project can score you big points with larger foundations who look for school programs that have already taken the initiative to seek funding elsewhere.
Do Your Research
Find a foundation that serves your region and has a history of funding the kinds of programs your school organizes. After reading the mission statement and grant requirements, check the foundations’s 990 form (these tax documents are usually made public on the website, or you can access them through an account with FoundationDirectoryOnline.com). The 990 form will show all of the schools and programs that the foundation has funded in the past year, so you can check if your school’s program aligns with the foundation’s funding history.
Once you have chosen a foundation or grant program, work backwards from the application deadline to create a schedule for submission. As a teacher, you’re already used to creating unit plans and lessons based off of a final objective, and the grant writing process is similar. Contact fellow teachers and determine who can help with creating a budget, writing a project description, securing supporting documents (like reference letters or 501c3 documents) and signatures, and proofing the final draft.
Appeal to Your Audience
The foundation’s website will give you specific terms and phrases to use in your application. If the foundation you choose focuses on introducing girls to the world of STEM, apply that same language to the first paragraph and intersperse it throughout the rest of your application. Foundations look favorably upon applications that echo their mission statements, so it’s best to be more literal, rather than creative, with your funding requests.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Keep your application concise and to the point. Do not exceed the word limit and double-check to make sure you’ve completed all necessary sections. This process may take a few weeks, depending on your and your colleagues’ workload, but it will be well worth your time once you secure funding for your school project!