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Six Ways to Land More Grants

Use these ideas to snare both mini and major grants.
By Stan Levenson
In my 40 years in education, I have written a lot of mini grants and major grants. Most of the grants were funded. Others weren’t worth the paper they were written on. And I have learned some important lessons in the process. Below are six tips to help you bring in more dollars to your school or district than you ever thought possible.

Tip 1: Start With Mini-Grants

It’s a good idea to start writing mini grants before you attempt to write major grants. I think of a mini grant as any grant under $5,000. Regardless of the size of the grant opportunity, however, there are still six basic components to any application.

1. Needs Assessment. This analyzes the extent of the problem and the conditions you wish to change. The statement of the problem or need represents the reason for your proposal.

2. Goals. Goals are general in nature, broad-based, and overarching. They summarize what you want to accomplish in your grant application. I recommend that you state just one or two goals in your application.

3. Objectives. These should be measurable and time-specific and become the criteria by which your program will be evaluated.

4. Activities. The activities (methods) section of your application will explain in detail how you are going to achieve the desired outcomes stated in your objectives. The activities section should flow smoothly from the needs statement and the program objectives.

5. Evaluation Specifications. This part of your application should help the funding agency determine the extent to which the objectives of your project will be met and the activities carried out. Be certain to describe your evaluation plan as clearly and succinctly as you can.

6. Budget. The budget you present to the funding agency delineates the costs involved in carrying out your project and expresses what you are trying to accomplish. A number of funding agencies have their own budget page that they want you to complete. Others ask you to prepare your own budget page. You might want to consult with your business manager on this section as you break out your costs.

Once you learn how to write a mini grant, you are well on your way to writing a major grant. When writing a major grant, give yourself and your staff adequate time to do the task at hand, follow the directions carefully, and expand your budget to meet your goals and objectives.

Tip 2: Apply for Federal and State Grants

It’s important to remember that when you write a major grant, such as a federal or state grant, you are competing with the big boys and girls on the block—and, in most instances, large city school districts. If you are not in this category, it will be a lot more fruitful to go to corporations and foundations for both mini and major grant opportunities.  In all my years in education, I have found it easier to get corporate and foundation money than federal money.

Tip 3: Apply for Corporate and Foundation Grants

Corporations provide support to nonprofit organizations, including schools, through their own private foundations, direct-giving programs, or both. These separate legal entities maintain close ties with their parent organizations, and their giving philosophies usually mirror company priorities and interests.

In my work in the public schools, I have discovered that corporations typically contribute in those communities where their employees live and work. Become familiar with all the corporations located in or near your school district and involve and welcome their representatives into your schools.

Tip 4: Apply for Grants From Independent Foundations

Independent foundations are interested in funding “excellence” and innovation in the public schools. Most recently, a number of independent foundations have become interested in the charter school movement and have given millions of dollars to these schools. I don’t see anything wrong with supporting the charter school movement. In fact, I encourage any external funding that would enhance K-12 schools just like the external funding that goes to public colleges and universities.

Tip 5: Apply for Grants From Community Foundations

There are more than 700 community foundations across the United States. These foundations are usually made up of individuals, businesses, and organizations located in specific communities or regions. Community foundations are becoming more interested in the public schools. A number of theses foundations are offering mini-grant programs for teachers. Take the time to locate the community foundations in your area of the country and get to know the people who are responsible for awarding grants and gifts.

Tip 6: Access Available Resources for Additional Help

You’ll find a wealth of available resources to broaden and enhance your background in grants and grant writing. There are also a number of resources that you can recommend to individual classroom teachers. Below is a sampling of some of the best resources.

Grant Announcements (for teachers and schools)



Education World: The Grants Center

Foundation Center: GrantSpace

The School Funding Center

Government Grant Opportunities

U.S. Department of Education


Federal Funding Tools and Links (Michigan State University)

Corporate and Foundation Grant Opportunities

Foundation Directory Online

Community Foundations

Corporate and Private Foundations

Inside Philanthropy

Stan Levenson (stanlevenson.com) is the author of The Essential Fundraising Guide for K-12 Schools: A 1-Hour Book With More Than 350 Links, available at Amazon.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in edu Pulse are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.