Access Granted Pt. 1: Crafting an Effective Grant Proposal

Students need technical equipment in the classroom. Bringing technology into the learning process increases collaboration and engagement and sets students up for success. Knowledge of how to use some form of technology is a necessity in every job field. The concepts and techniques taught by using technical equipment give students a head start on the future. Cost, however, is always the limiting factor in getting and giving access to the best and newest technologies available. Most school districts aren’t made of money, so grant funding is a great way to bridge the gap and give your students access to the technology they need. 

Identifying Grant Opportunities 

There are many types of grants available, including government grants, corporate grants, and foundation grants, each with its own set of requirements. Government grants typically have strict eligibility criteria and complex application processes, but you can secure hefty sums from federal, state, or local governments to support tech in your classroom once vetted. Once you are established with these organizations, you are also more likely to continue receiving money in the future. Corporate and foundation grants are a bit harder to find as some aren’t publicly listed, but finding the right funder can lead to a grant with a little bit more freedom in how funds are allocated. 

When identifying opportunities, start close to home and work your way outward. Your school district or local businesses and charitable foundations may have grants available or be looking for opportunities to make a positive investment in schools. Then, work up to the national level. Grant directories and databases are abundant online. and are a good place to start when identifying grant opportunities that you’d like to pursue.  The Space Foundation has a great round-up of grant opportunities from groups such as the Mazda Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and MIT. As you research, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the grants you are pursuing. Not all grant opportunities are a one-size-fits-all situation, and you don’t want to waste time and money applying to grants for which you’re ineligible. 

To determine your eligibility, establish if you are applying for these grants on behalf of yourself as an individual or as part of an organization. If you are a teacher applying on behalf of your school, this will automatically make you eligible for certain grant opportunities that are not available to small businesses or other types of grant applicants. Some grant eligibility often revolves around geographic location, grade and teaching level, and socioeconomic factors as well, so it’s helpful to have gathered data about yourself and your classroom before you start the application process. Be specific in your ask — requesting money for general supplies is less compelling to a grant committee than a specific plan with actionable results. 

Crafting A Compelling Proposal

Once you have identified the grant opportunities you’d like to pursue, read all the grant guidelines and application instructions thoroughly. This is your chance to make sure the grant funding is appropriate for your classroom scenario — if you misuse grant funding there is a chance you will have to pay it back plus penalties, as well as lose eligibility for future grants. If you have already done your work gathering data before you have even identified these opportunities, filling out the application should go smoothly. 

A grant proposal consists of a few parts:

  1. Executive Summary & Introduction — This establishes your qualifications to receive the grant funding and carry out the project as stipulated in the application. You can also introduce your school and classroom here to give context to your specific need for technical equipment.
  2. Needs Statement — A compelling needs statement clearly lays out a problem and shows the significance of solving it urgently. Why does your classroom need a certain type of technical equipment? Why now? Using statistics on studies showing positive student outcomes in a digital environment can be a powerful tool in communicating the need for tech in the classroom.
  3. Project Goals and Objectives — These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) outcomes for the addition of technical equipment into your classroom. Setting discrete projects for yourself and your students can help drive learning momentum.
  4. Methodology — Once you’ve received a grant for technical equipment, how will you use it? Show how this addition will be used across lesson plans and how you will incorporate technical learning into your curriculum. It’s important to be realistic when laying out your methodology and timeframe to account for student learning curves. 
  5. Evaluation Plan — This is where you will show accountability for how the technical equipment has been used. If you have laid out your goals properly in section three, you will have a simple rubric to evaluate whether the grant-funded equipment successfully solved the problem from your needs statement. 
  6. Costs & Budget — A realistic budget will demonstrate the project’s feasibility. This will require you to research and compare the costs of technical equipment, as well as show why the equipment addresses your proposed need. Be specific when listing out costs and provide documentation, such as quotes or estimates. 

Need help pricing equipment for a grant application? We can help! 

Don’t write your grant proposal in one day! It’s necessary to revise, revisit, and review your application to make sure your communication is accurate and compelling before submitting it. Get others to read and make notes on your grant application to ensure clarity among multiple readers. 

Ready to submit? Join us for our next blog in the Access Granted Series. We’ll cover submitting the application, post-submission follow-up, and managing your grant once you’ve successfully been approved.