It’s true! I don’t believe there is a question I am asked more then, “Do you know of any grants I/we can apply for?” The short answer there is yes. You can find grants for anything you want depending on the amount of work you wish to put in and the time frame that you want to receive your grant benefits. The longer answer is that grants are not always worth it. Some grants will require lots of writing, data collection and, sometimes insidiously, that you follow their initiatives. Some grants will require data collection before, during and after the grant’s active period, as well as some analysis of that data. Not doing this work, or not doing it correctly, results in having to payback the amount of the grant. There is a reason why grant writing is a career path itself. There are secret expectations and language used when organizing and writing grants. In short, no one gives you anything free; you will work for what you get.
Are you scared away from grants yet? No? Good! In this series on grants and grant writing you will find answers to questions like where can we find grants to apply for, how do you organize and write a grant, why do “they” word their questions so oddly, and do I really need to do everything they are asking? The only way to win at grant writing is to own the process.
Let’s start with this question: “do I need a grant to achieve my goal?” This may sound a bit silly, but lots of times what you think you need may already exist within the district somewhere. So before you start putting in long hours on a grant, here are the people you should check with first:
- Other Teachers or Teams
- Your Principal
- your CTLs
- The IT Director or department
- The Curriculum Council
- The Superintendent
If none of these people can help you, then it may be time to start a grant. Here are some questions to ask yourself to know if finding and writing a grant is worth the undertaking:
- Do I have a concrete idea of what I want? This includes
- A basic plan for data collection
- A basic plan for implementation
- A basic timeline for the above and for the life of the program/project
- A basic budget
- A basic hierarchy of people included in the program/project
- Have I checked with–and gotten the approval of –my administrators?
- Do I have 10-100 hours to put into writing and maintaining a grant?
- While this is not even close to a solid statistic, start with an average of 2 hours for every 500 dollars of grant money. Go up from there just to estimate the time needed.
- Will I be reimbursed for my time in writing and organizing the grant?
There are lots more questions to ask yourself and your colleagues before the organizing and writing process begins, but most importantly is this question to sincerely ask yourself: is it worth it to me? That alone may be all the answer you need.