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Peek's Perspective

Does Your School
Qualify for Grants?


It is no secret that some schools qualify for many more grants than other schools do. As a general rule, for example, public schools qualify for more grants than private schools. And all public schools are not equally eligible. Some public schools qualify for huge sums of grant money while others qualify for very little.

On the surface, the grant-giving system might seem unfair -- until you look at the fact that those schools that qualify for the most grants are usually those with the greatest need. Schools that have high populations of economically disadvantaged students receive more grant money than schools that have small disadvantaged populations. Both state and federal governments plow huge amounts of grant money into low-ranking schools in an effort to improve the education those schools provide and break the cycle of poverty. Even private schools qualify for more grant money when they have large populations of economically disadvantaged students who attend school on scholarships rather than paying the normal tuition.

[content block] What if you don't have a lot of disadvantaged students? Do you still qualify for grants? Yes, you do. Billions of dollars of grant money go to schools with average to low disadvantaged populations. Just because you don't qualify for as much grant money as those other schools doesn't mean you shouldn't go after the money that is available as aggressively as possible.

One method you can use to get grant money is to focus your grant program on the disadvantaged students you do have. Those students might be economically, physically, or mentally handicapped, but you can bet it will cost you more to educate them than it will other students. Let's say you identify 20 of your students and write a grant to enhance their education with the latest computers and reading software available. Obviously those students will not be using those computers the entire school day. Other students can benefit from the computers so long as the identified students are served first. Following this approach to bring in grant money will benefit many of your students, not just the small number of students to whom the grant was targeted.

Another way to acquire grant money is to search for grants that have qualifications not directly tied to disadvantaged populations. Thousands of those grants are out there. Subscribing to a good grant database really helps as you sift through large numbers of potential grants to find the ones for which you qualify. Grants are available for reading, science, math, social students, at-risk, after-school, early childhood, service learning, and professional development -- and the list goes on. To opt out of writing grants because you have low numbers of disadvantaged students is simply not reasonable. You might have to work a little harder to locate and win grant monies, but the money is out there.

I'd like to give some additional advice in this regard to faith-based schools. Don't search for grants as a faith-based school. Some grants go specifically to faith-based schools, but they are few and far between. Instead, search for grants as a private school and look to see if you are specifically excluded because you are a faith-based school. More often than not, you will not be excluded.

In 2009, the availability of grant money will be more competitive than ever. Almost all schools will need money above and beyond their regular budgets. Rest assured, however, that your school qualifies for at least some of the thousands of grants that are out there. The difference this year is that you might need to work a little harder or be a bit more aggressive than in the past to earn your fair share of the grant money that's available.

Article by Don Peek
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Originally published 02/05/2009