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Peek's Perspective

Writing Grants
Is a Numbers Game


Writing grants is a numbers game. But any school can win grant money. To get large amounts of grant money, you just have to understand how "the numbers" impact your chances of submitting successful award-winning grant applications.

[content block] First, you need to be doing multiple needs assessments each year to ensure that you are identifying the problem areas in your school or classroom that can best be addressed with grant monies. The more problem areas you identify, the more grant money you are likely to need. The more grants you find that relate to your school's (or classroom's or district's) issues, the greater your chance of reaping grant money. This is where a good grants database comes into play. Using a grants database on a regular basis will frequently enable you find multiple grants that match your needs. The closer you can match your needs to the grantors purpose for handing out grants, the greater your chance of earning that grant money. When it comes to the numbers, you probably need to increase all of the numbers mentioned so far - the number of needs assessments you do, the number of problems you identify, the number of grants you need to fix the problem, and the number of grants that you match up with the problems you face.

The second element of the grant numbers game is pretty obvious: the greater the number of quality grant applications you submit, the more grant money you will receive. Once you are sure that your request for grant funds matches the donors reason for giving grant money, the only thing that will prevent you from getting grant money is that someone else completed a higher-quality application than you did. You should recognize that two important keys are at work here:

  • You should submit several grant applications to different grantors for each problem area you identify.
  • Each of those grant applications should be of the highest quality.
  • You may need to submit multiple grant applications to get just one of them funded. If the problem you identify is particularly complex or the solution you identify is particularly expensive, you may need to submit several applications to get all the money you need - a few thousand dollars from each of several sources.

    The third "numbers" related ingredient that can help ensure success with grant applications is statistics: the more statistics you use in your grant application, the better. Of course, those statistics need to apply directly to the problem you aim to address. They should illustrate exactly what the issue is and how serious it is. For example, by using the data from your last standardized test cycle you might be able to demonstrate that 55% of your fifth graders are 1.2 years below the national average in math. You might also include data that illustrates how the at-risk students from that group are 1.9 years below the national average in math. Those statistics prove to grant-givers that you know the problem you face and you know that you have to fix it. Quality grant applications use relevant statistics to demonstrate the depth and breadth of a problem.

    The final element of the grant numbers game involves the budget you include with your application. The budget numbers that you submit with your grant application will make it clear that you understand the solution to your problem and how much it will cost to fix it. The budget will detail the materials and/or personnel you will need in order to achieve the growth you expect.

    You may not have been the greatest math student in the world, but you should be able to use numbers well enough to understand how great their impact can be on your success in earning grants:

  • Use regular needs assessments to identify as many problems in your school as possible.
  • Use a database to find as many grants as you can that relate to the problems you identify.
  • Submit several high-quality grant applications to address your problems.
  • Use statistics to show the depth of your problems.
  • Use the budget in your grant application to show you understand what you will have to spend to correct your problems.
  • Writing grants is a numbers game. But you can use those numbers to garner more and more grant money each year.

    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
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2010 Education World

    Originally published 02/01/2010