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Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a blogger for The School Funding Center since 2013. She was special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager...
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Federal Grant Resources by State Map

There are three main categories of grants:
1.    Government (state and federal)
2.    Foundation
3.    Corporate

Government grants are often federal allocations to school districts, you are entitled to these funds. This does not mean there is no work to be done to claim the funds. There is often a rigorous application process for securing federal pass-through grants that come to you from your state education department. You’d be surprised to know that some grant funds remain unclaimed every year. Small school districts may think they don’t qualify for the funds because of their size, or because their community is not impoverished. However, every community has children who are low income, and there may very well be money there to support their education.

If your school district has a “Title I Director”, you can rest assured that all government entitlements have been applied for. This person is well versed in the ins and outs of federal grants for at-risk or low income students.The

The School Funding Center has prepared a Federal Grant Resources by State map that will link you to your state education department’s grants website. Click on your state and learn about your community’s participation in government entitlement grants.

You may ask, as a school based grant writer, "Why do I need to know about Title I and federal grants?"

Your district must go through a rigorous process of self reflection when applying for:
• Title I
• Title IIA Teacher Quality
• Race to the Top (if this applies)
• Special education federal allocation.
• Title IID, Education for ELL

In this process, the district acknowledges and signs assurances that it is aware of how the funds are supposed to be allocated, monitored and reported. It's a mandated big picture exercise.

If it's practical, you might ask your principal if you could sit in on district level committee meetings to learn more about this important work. You will learn about Title I. The regulations for use of these funds take up two 3 inch binders. Title I funds are set aside for students who are most at-risk, both economically and academically. You'll want to know what your district is currently doing, and planning to do for these students.

This knowledge will help you craft your grant applications for foundations and corporations.
In grants language, there's a concept called "supplement not supplant". It's a regulation for federal funds, but a great rule of thumb when thinking about all grants for your school. You should never use grant funds to pay for things that the district is clearly responsible for; utility bills, basic textbooks, construction,or big ticket items that are necessary for running the school. If your narratives or budgets contain a suggestion that you are planning to supplant (pay for the big stuff) your district's budgets, the application reader will know, and they'll set your application aside for "adjustment". Instead, you'll want to be sure that you supplement your district's and city budget allocations for education. It's a good habit to finish all grant applications with a "supplement not supplant" checklist, so go through and make sure the program you are planning will be supplementing city funds to make your larger educational picture more effective, or more responsive to all student populations. More and more, grantors are looking for alignment to Common Core State Standards too.

If you're resourceful, you might ask your district administrators if you could take a look at the Title I application early in the fall. They have no doubt been working all summer on these important documents. They will probably let you read through them. Grant writers are a strange bunch (as you will find out). We are often very protective and possessive of our ideas, narratives and budgets. This is understandable, so much work has gone into them. As you read through the package, you will learn all about the district's big picture, and this will really help when you sit down to create your narratives and budgets for the foundations you've targeted.

Caution! Never go ahead and make overtures to your state education department on your own. Your principal and school superintendent will have more information about this process if you are interested in learning more.