Below is information I gathered from attending a session on grant writing at TCEA (2/10/2011). Presenter's words are transcribed by Bonnie Goodwin from Faubion Middle School.
Grant Writing
Presenter: Dr. Sheryl Abshire
sheryl.abshire@cpsb.org


Keys to Successful Grant Writing:

A. Integrated program elements
B. Aligned components
C. High quality and continuous improvement, professional development, evaluation
D. Tied to high standards
E. Innovation
F. Coordination of resources
G. Programs tied to local needs and Buy-in

First and foremost, this presenter stressed that before you start writing grants, you should read them. Volunteer to read grants (even if it's for free) so you will understand the backdoor decisions and how grants differ. This presenter had read for Apple, State, Department of Education, AOL etc.

A. Scope: Funders want to grant for a larger scope and bigger capacity...consider the grand scale of your project. Think about this aspect before you begin to write. How does what you want to do integrate with what you already have?
B. Align: The grantors want to see your grant components align with expectations in district. For example, if your school has problems with math and you want computers or iPads; speak to how the technology will anchor to a successful program or something else pertaining to math in your district that already has width and breath.
C. Professional development component: How are the professionals going to be trained, how will there be continuous improvement...know the “NCLB game”. Work within those confinements to get what you need. Use what you've already got to figure out how growth or impact will be measured. Use the assessment to demonstrate what the growth will be with your grant. There has to be a very strong evaluation component. How will the funder know the money they gave you led to student achievement?
D. Tied to High Standards: Align to Standards and write to a standards-based classroom experience and how it’s bigger than just your ideas!!!! For example, you have your act together you are working aligned; you know the standards, etc. How will the technology be used? What you want to do and student learning HAS to be connected. Elevate student learning and have evaluations that speak to the outcomes. How can you prove students learned more with the use of technology? Describe specific indicators, how curriculum development might change; funders want specific outcomes.
E. Innovation: They want to fund innovative, new approaches to old problems. Know that what you are writing is ALL the reader knows. They are not going to call you up or interview your or visit you. They know you by your words only. Convey, “I am legit. I'm smart. I know what I'm doing!” Research new ideas of what other are doing and innovate yourself into some money!
F. Coordination of Resources: Funders want to know what you have already implemented and what programs are going on that will support and scaffold their investment. There would be digital equity. You have some skid in the game. Convey that you are not asking them for everything; you are needy but you are not desperate. They want to see faculty support and cooperation. Speak to processes, activities, whole school buy in...schoolwide effort. Funders don’t want to see the idea on only one person's shoulders. If that person left the school, then what would happen to the funds? Support from within the school is necessary. A team vision is required to improve student learning beyond the norm. They want to be able to replicate a program elsewhere; see a vision that can be done somewhere else. Is the budget clearly defined? Make a case why private funding should be used. Your budget must be pristine and precise. The words and numbers much match perfectly. They don't know you, they know your words.
G. Programs tied to local needs: Who will benefit from this initiative? You have to show it benefits the students not just the teachers. Also, you need to know the kinds of things they specifically want to fund. Research and get to know the funder. Know their corporate goals. Usually, you can see a funding pattern, so don't waste your time if your goals and their goals don’t complement each other. Either match your application to them or go somewhere else. Also, how do you tap into other resources already in the community? Rotary club, Jr. League, fire dept, etc. Get community buy in. Show innovation and creativity so you can stretch their dollar and don’t just ask for “gimmie money”. They want you to stretch the dollars, match it every way you can, leverage against other resources, etc.


Other Tips:
Write passionately! They want to see passion; it needs to lift-up off of the page. It should scream, “These grant writers are committed! They have been successful, they want to go on.” Do surveys and get a voice behind your ideas. You have to be a gambler if you are going to be a grant writer. Maybe first grant you write won't be funded. But, if you want a grant, then write one!! Take a risk, read, find, write. If you write, you will get one. Take the chance that you will hit a jackpot somewhere.
Learn why you don't get grants.

She called the state department to see why she didn't get a certain grant and to see what did get funded. She needed to see what was funded and learn what she had done wrong. Contact the office that the grants were turned in to. It is public information. Ask for them to send you a copy and ask them to send you any award-winning grant. Also, you can ask for the "readers comments". They are very helpful.

Once you have written the grant you just rewrite again and again. Everything she reads that is good she copies and paste into word docs. Think about this for a “grant later” folder...tear out pages from magazines. Save all your research and innovative ideas and build yourself a repertoire. Be an invented and innovator. Always seek new ways to be a magician.

Do not deviate from the request for protocol (RFP)!!! Margins, number of pages, font size, letters of recommendation etc. Create a proposal that appears to meet every requirement of the RFP. Be concise. Cut all the fluff. You can hyphenate to count two words as one though! ;-)

Never miss a deadline. You may miss some sleep to work non-stop. Persistence pays off. If you get it; celebrate! Call people together and celebrate don't just write and email!! Validate the work of people and what they've been able to accomplish.

Resources:
Look online for pertinent information:

www.k12grants.org

Subscribe to “Bring Home the Bacon” listserve. http://k12grants.org/bacon.htm She also does a grant writing newsletter.

Subscribe with tons of current things on this site. It allows you to have the subscription to the “bring home the bacon”. She has a lurked in the listserv and reads every few days for the tips people provide all over the place.

There is also an index of samples of proposals on that webpage. Totally helps with formatting, etc.

Also recommended is a subscription to Grants for K-12 Hotline. She says it’s thorough and authentic with current information.

http://west.thomson.com/productdetail/139011/40560035/productdetail.aspx

“This newsletter describes federal education grants, corporate charitable gift programs, and foundation grants available for K-12 programs. It is a convenient and affordable way for you to be among the first to know of opportunities to fund your key programs.
Features:
· Annual index
· Application aids and grant-writing ideas
· Profiles of funding sources
· Special grant alerts and resource listings
· Twenty-four biweekly issues”