Our very own Brian Gravel sat down with Morgan Hynes, Research Professor at Tufts and pulled together a comprehensive guide to help teachers apply to small grants, and win!
Small grants designed specifically for teachers to try new initiatives, gather new materials and resources, or gain access to professional development services are available from a number of organizations. Typically, these organizations will have a specific application to be completed, which may include a number of different requirements. Some general tips for preparing these applications are as follows:
1. What is the need?
In order for the granting organization to award you funding, they must see a clear need for your work. Defining and presenting the need can happen a number of ways, but the most important thing to communicate is that you have a problem you are trying to solve, and the money from this grant will help you solve it.
2. What is your plan?
It is important to clearly identify what you will do with the money, and how that plan directly related to the need you defined. All too often the plan for how the problem will be solved is vague and unclear – which is an excuse for the funders to reject your application. If they read your application and know exactly how you will spend their money and what you and your students will be doing, youre off to a good start.
3. Be innovative.
Typically, funders are not interested in giving you money for things you already do. That is, they want to see a new idea that you are hoping to try if you get the money to put it into action. For this reason, grants are great opportunities to be an innovative teacher – to try new experiences with your students, to try new instructional approaches, and to change the way your students engage with math and science.
4. What are you spending the money for?
It must be clear to the funders that you are spending money for the right reasons. For example, if you request a computer – it must be painfully obvious how you could not do the work without the computer. The same goes for other kinds of technical equipment. Just be clear, and you should be fine.
5. Read the RFP (Request for Proposal)/Grant Guide.
It is very important to read the grant solicitation carefully. Make sure your project meets the funders’ needs, use the language they use, and make sure you are solving a problem that they would be interested in!
6. Expected outcomes.
If you receive the money and carry out your plan, what do you expect the benefits to be for you and your students? You may not know that these outcomes are going to happen, but make a clear connection to how the money being spent on X leads to students gains in Y. AND, how will you measure this? The funders want to see how you know things improved; so, make sure you think about how to measure the gains your students make, and how you will present that information.
There are many opportunities out there, and all it takes is one in the door and you’ll realize how doable it is!