Writing a Grant
|Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio
Writing a grant is part art, part science. First-time grant writing can
be a bit daunting, so it is a good idea to get as much help as possible
from administration and colleagues who may or may not have experience.
There are many resources available to help you. We'll go over some
What do I want to do?
Start with a clear idea of what you want to do and why. Don't begin
from the perspective of what you want to get. Canvas your department
and perhaps other colleagues (for interdisciplinary projects) to make
sure you are on the same page in terms of project goals and how to meet
them. Look at other grants, preferably those that have received
funding, to get a better idea of the kinds of things you need to
consider and how to best organize your work.
What funding sources are available?
Search for funding sources that seek to support the general kind of
project that you want to undertake. For small projects designed to
improve education in your school, you might wish to begin with more
local funding sources. If you are trying to meet requirements at the
state (state standards, state exams, state syllabus, etc.) or national
(NCLB, needs identified in reports to congress, etc.) level, more
funding might be available at those levels. Read a lot of calls for
proposals to get an idea of what kinds of things the people with the
money want to support. Understand what kinds of things companies,
government agencies, and foundations want to do with the money they are
providing, and frame your own project in terms that will show that you
share the same goals.
Write a description of who will be working on the project, what you
plan to do, when the various parts of the project will take place,
where things will happen, how you plan to do it, and why you are
undertaking this particular project in this particular way. Will the
project have benefits beyond your own classes, department,
school? Be brief and concise. You need something that a funder
can read in a few minutes and know just what it is you are trying to do
and what you will need to do it.
Your narrative should include all of
the information about the people, places, and things needed to do the
project. Your budget must mirror the narrative, showing that you
understand how much it will really cost to do what you say you will do.
Who will pay for what (school contribution)? What does your school
already have? Will school secretarial staff be provided? Will some
school supplies and equipment be used (paper, computers)? Who will pay
for the time of project participants? Is there a need for food,
housing, travel? Do you need to buy equipment and software, how much,
given the people who will need to use it? Do you need to bring in
outside consultants to help? Overestimating or underestimating the cost
of your project can be viewed as a sign that you are not qualified to
How will you evaluate the success of your project? Formative evaluation
keeps track of whether your activities are meeting project goals while
you are still working on the project and can make adjustments to better
meet those goals. Summative evaluation looks back on the project to
report on the overall success at the end.
Be clear about Goals and Objectives; they are different but closely
related. Goals can be relatively intangible; what are you trying to
improve. Objectives are clear and precise, specific and measurable;
what will happen? what specifically will change in order to meet those
goals? The words: know, understand, appreciate, comprehend, learn,
enjoy, believe, all belong in goals, not objectives.
Carefully follow the directions for submitting your proposal.
There is lots of competition so don't give anyone a reason to weed out
your proposal by tossing it in the circular file. Have someone else
read it critically before you send it in. Hope for lots of good,
critical advice, not just "atta boy!" Develop a thick skin. Don't be
depressed about being turned down. Use reviewers' comments to
improve your proposal and submit again, with the same funder or
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