Several people have contacted me in recent days wondering if grant money is drying up because of the recession. Without hesitation, I can definitely respond to them, "No, it is not." I know that for a fact, because my School Funding Center Grant Database currently lists more grants than at any time since its inception in 2001. Thousands of grants are available to all types of schools, but grant seekers need to understand the different types of grants that are available and where to look for them.
There are three basic types of competitive grants:
1) federal grants,
2) state grants, and
3) foundation or private grants.
"Competitive" means that each grant offering begins with a total amount of money, schools apply for a portion of that money, and the schools with the greatest need and the best applications are awarded the grant money for which they applied. In other words, you have to compete for the money available. Some schools win the grant money, some don't.
[content block] While many educators were afraid that federal grant money would virtually disappear because of the deteriorating economy, the exact opposite is true. The word is out that spending for education may very well be the one topic on which Democrats and Republicans can agree. Within the next few months, and continuing through the next several years, expect to see a large number of federal grant announcements. Information on those grants is often sent to your district's central office, so you may have to use your own initiative to find information about new federal grants.
As far as state grants are concerned, it is true that many states are having a difficult time financially and may not have a lot of money to fund grants. The fact is, however, that quite a bit of federal grant money is actually distributed through your state education agency. Regardless of your state's financial problems, you will still see an increase in state grants as each state is given the task of dispersing a portion of the large amount of federal grant money that will become available. Again, information on these grants is typically sent to your district's central office. If you're not in the central office, you may have to track down news of these grants yourself.
Finally, most of the thousands of foundations that give grant money to schools will continue to do so. For one thing, they are required to give a certain amount of grant money each year in order to keep their tax-exempt status. While it is true that some foundations may give less money than they have given in the past, they will still be sponsoring grants at some level while other foundations will grant more than ever before. Unfortunately, foundations do not typically advertise their grant programs. You have to search out these opportunities in a grant database or find them on the Internet.
If you are interested in applying for grant money for your school, you will be applying for federal grants, state grants, or foundation grants. Take it from someone who keeps his ear close to the ground, grant money is still definitely available and may very well increase in the near future. Who gets all that grant money? Schools that concentrate first on getting comprehensive information about each grant as soon as it is announced will get their share. Schools that write good, strong, competitive grant proposals well before the deadline will get their share. And schools that consistently and persistently apply for grants -- month after month, year after year -- will get their share. By doing all of those things, you can make sure your school gets its share of available grants too.
Article by Don Peek
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