August is here, and it won't be long before all students will be back to school. This is the time of year when many educators apply for grants -- between the time they return to work and students arrive. This lull period is a good time to apply because writing a grant proposal can take considerable effort. If you're going to do all the work that goes into applying for a grant, you should give yourself every chance of focusing on and winning that grant.
A phone call is especially helpful when you are applying for foundation grants. Many foundations are run by a small board, and the contact person usually sits on that board and helps decide which grant applications to fund. The contact person can tell you if your project really fits the scope of the foundation. Matching your need with the intent of the foundation is absolutely critical, and a phone call can often save you tremendous time and effort. In some cases, you'll abandon your application to the particular foundation because you'll find that the fit is not there. More often, you'll be able to make your application much clearer and more persuasive by having one or more conversations with the contact person.
State and federal grant applications are much more complicated than those offered by foundations. For that reason, a phone call to the contact person can help tremendously as you plan. That contact person can clarify parts of the complex grant applications. If you truly understand the information the application seeks, you can pinpoint your narrative and make your application much more clear and concise. Since almost all of these grants are competitive, speaking with the contact person may give you just the advantage you need to gain a higher score than other schools competing for the same money.
Please be aware that some granting entities ask you not to call them. Quite often they give an email address as an alternative to a phone number. Even though a phone call is typically more productive, use whatever means of communication is available to get all the information you can before you apply for a grant.
The easiest way to get contact names, phone numbers, or email addresses for a grant is to use a good grant database. However, if you don't have access to a grant database, you should be able to track down that information by using a search engine to find an online grant announcement, which often includes contact information.
I give information about applying for grants on a daily basis. I can't give you better advice than to "Make the call." One phone call will tell you 1) if you should apply for the grant and 2) how to apply more efficiently and effectively if the grant is a good match for your school's needs.
Don Peek is former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. Learn more about The School Funding Center at the bottom of this newsletter.
Article by Don Peek
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