Grants can be used to fill in gaps in funding and expand opportunities for students, increasing resources for your educational institution. Funding can also be used to provide more in-depth educational experiences, give students a richer education experience, and increase their preparedness to function as knowledgeable citizens. Grants and, more typically, awards can also be used for specialized training or attending workshops and conferences.
See how educational grants and awards are organized and what kind of information you should include in your proposal. Watch this video by a fellow educator with a proven record of success in obtaining funding. Also check out our Grant Toolkit, which provides a common template that is easily transferable to other grant formats.
"In a world where everything is becoming 'virtual,' grants are the real thing. They have helped our staff overcome a shortage of resources and transform a vision into a reality. On our campus, over 500 students a year experience the world of biotechnology through programs supported by grants."
— Stan Hitomi, Coordinator, Math and Science, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Danville, CA
Many thanks to Stan Hitomi for helping assemble this exceptional guide to understanding the grant-writing process.
You are probably thinking, “There are not enough hours in the day already. How am I going to find the time (and energy) to write a proposal?” This is where the video and toolkit really help. They are big time savers. They will help you streamline the process and make more effective use of your time.
After you have submitted a grant, you will find that the application process for different grants is generally very similar, and the next grant will take much less time. With a little editing, many sections can quickly be repurposed. Even less time spent on subsequent grants!
Educational grants come in all sizes, from small local grants (generally ranging from hundreds to a thousand dollars) to state and national grants (usually tens of thousands to millions of dollars). The funding sources for grants vary from private businesses and associations to state and national organizations and foundations. Applications for these funds range from a simple letter to a comprehensive formal application package. The key is to define your scope and select the source of funding that most closely meets your needs.
The number of grants available to teachers has grown dramatically in recent years, especially in the areas of science and technology. Surprisingly, some grant money is even left unclaimed every year due to a lack of applicants. Therefore, utilizing the grant writing toolkit and drafting a grant proposal ahead of time will give you an advantage as last-minute notices come through. Reformatting your proposal to fit into a new template is much easier than starting from scratch each time, and the odds of getting the grant funded can be quite high.
What should be included in a grant, and how should it be pitched? This, of course, depends on the individual grant, but most grants have many components in common and are discussed in this section. When writing a grant keep in mind that first impressions matter. This is important in two ways.
The reviewer of your grant probably has lots of applications to review. In an ideal world, a reviewer should not start to judge until they have read the whole grant; however, many will. As mentioned below, make the summary of your application compelling. Make it very clear at the beginning what is key — don’t make the reviewer hunt for the important information. You need the reviewer to be interested enough to actively read rather than skim your proposal.
Formatting is important. Follow font size and other guidelines. If there are no guidelines, even though it is tempting, do not make your font small and try to cram as much text in as you can. Any negative impression of your formatting will reduce your chances of getting funded.
Use the information below with the Grant Toolkit to prepare your first competitive grant.
Summary: One of the most important pieces of the grant application, this brief abstract of the project you want funded provides the reviewer with the first impression. It is best to prepare this section after the proposal has been developed, although making notes and jotting down good phrases during the preparation of the rest of the grant is helpful. This will ensure that all the key components of the proposal are included and coherent. The summary can also be used to keep administrators, department members, and the media informed about your project. Because it is one of the more important parts of the proposal, get as many people as you can to read the summary and give you feedback. Use whatever you can to improve the summary.
Introduction: This section describes your school, district, or organization and the community that you serve. Make certain to identify the people who will be served by the project and the significance of the project to them. Include biographical sketches, resumes, or curricula vitae of the primary participants in the project. Also include the goals and philosophy of the organization represented in the proposal.
Problem Definition and Need: This statement must be clear, concise, and supported by data whenever possible. The statement should clearly describe a need as it relates to your students and/or teachers. It should be clear from this section how the problem will be overcome through the funding. For each problem presented, there must be a corresponding goal and objective.
Goals and Objectives: Your goals and objectives should be clearly defined. It is important to link goals and objectives to the specific criteria of the funding program.
Methods and Activities: This section outlines the tasks, who will do them, when they will be completed, and what resources will be needed. It is important to be as specific as possible; for example, identify people or positions assigned to each task, state the number of students to be served, etc. A timeline graphic is highly recommended.
Evaluation: Describe how the success of the program will be measured. List the data to be collected and the process used to evaluate them. Delineate a plan for measuring progress throughout the funding period and say how modifications will be made.
Budget: Outline expenses in detail here. It is often possible to obtain a free quote for equipment and supplies from vendors to assist in completing this section (Bio-Rad is happy to provide this assistance). It is helpful, and often required, to break down budgets into categories such as personnel, travel, equipment, and supplies. The budget must be consistent with the methods and activities of the project.
Sustainability: Funding is often based upon the ability of a project to succeed beyond the grant. It is helpful to indicate how the program will be sustained beyond the funding cycle. Include comments about the maintenance, repair, and upgrade of equipment. Also include any plans to disseminate or expand the program beyond the scope described in the proposal.
Streamline the process by finding grant alert services, and either check the sites/directories regularly or, if available, get their emails or newsletters.
Google Alerts is another useful tool. Set up a series of alerts using different queries, and skim through them once a week. Refine the alerts as you find which keywords are best.
Two helpful articles:
Henriques L (2012). Grant writing for your classroom. California Classroom Science 25 (3).
The first article gives grant writing information and has a list of funding sources at the end.
Henriques L (2013). Grant & Award Opportunities. California Classroom Science 26 (1).
This article has several more suggestions for sources for grants and awards.
Below is a nonexhaustive list of major funding bodies providing educational grants.
Bio-Rad sponsors two awards for excellence in teaching and a mini-grant for $2,000 in Bio-Rad materials.
The Ron Mardigian Memorial Biotechnology Explorer Award is partnered with the National Science Teachers Association (NTSA). Annual deadline November 30. Application Information
The Ron Mardigian Memorial Biotechnology Award is partnered with the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Annual deadline March 15. Application Information
Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer Mini-Grant provides $2,000 of Bio-Rad materials. Annual deadline February 1. Grant Instructions
2013 NSTA Ron Mardigian Memorial Biotechnology Explorer Award Winner Susan Mumford-Hartley (Hinkley High School, Aurora, CO) presented by Julie Mathern, Biotechnology Explorer Marketing Manager.
2012 NABT Ron Mardigian Biotechnology Award Winner Peggy Deichstetter (St. Edward High School, Elgin, IL) shown with Julie Mathern, Biotechnology Explorer Marketing Manager.
2013 Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer Mini Grant Winner Patti Erikson (Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.