We're here to help...
As you put together your funding proposals, rely on Scholastic to help answer your questions, provide useful tools and simplify the process. We've gathered a comprehensive set of resources to assist you every step of the way:
- Frequently Asked Questions - Have questions? So do many of your peers. We've answered some of the most common ones right here.
- Glossary of Terms - We'll help you understand the key funding terms and buzzwords, especially if you're new to the process.
- Grant-Writing Tips - Get 11 helpful hints to make your proposal more effective.
- Sample Grant Components - Download PDFs of everything from a sample needs statement to an evaluation plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here you'll find answers to some of the most common questions about educational funding and grant writing.
What types of grants are available to schools?
Federal, state, private foundation and corporate grants are available to school districts. However, the primary source of grant funding for schools is federal programs that are usually administered by the State Education Agency. Federal funding includes both Federal Entitlement, or Formula funds, and Competitive Grant Funds.
What is a competitive grant?
Competitive grants require applicants to submit applications or proposals. Funds are awarded based on the quality of the grant proposal and compliance with the grant requirements. The grant making organization or agency often releases a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for applications (RFA). Eligible applicants then typically have four to six weeks to complete and submit their applications, which are reviewed and scored by a team of experts. The top-scoring applications receive funding.
What is a competitive sub grant?
Several federal programs direct individual states to make competitive sub-grant opportunities available from the funding coming to the state. States manage the federal money. Schools and districts then apply directly to the state through a competitive process. Reading First, Enhancing Education Through Technology and 21st Century Community Learning Centers are federal programs that support competitive, state sub grant programs.
Do most state-level competitive grant programs become available at the same time each year?
For the most part, State Education Agencies will repeat the grant cycles at about the same time each year. As an example, if a state releases Ed Tech funding in September and the application is due in November, that grant cycle will probably repeat itself the following year.
What is a non-competitive grant?
Often called "formula" or "entitlement" funding, non-competitive grant funds are allocated based on the type of student population, such as Free/Reduced Lunch, English Language Learners, Early Childhood or other student populations. However, districts must still apply and demonstrate the requisite need. Award notifications are made on an annual basis. An example of a non-competitive grant is Title I, Part A - Improving Basic Programs.
How much money can my school get from a grant?
Every grant program has its own unique focus to address a particular need. Grant awards vary according to the particular program and funding agency or organization, and funding amounts and program requirements are subject to change. Community foundations may provide grants of several hundred dollars while federal grants may be thousands or millions of dollars. Keep in mind that grants are not a means to fast money. The period from application to award can be as long as nine months and there is no guarantee that an award will be made.
How does my school get a grant?
There are four basic steps to obtaining a grant:
- Research: Use Scholastic's Funding Connection to locate your State Education Agency. Once you've identified a grant program, use our valuable resources, such as the Sample Grant Components, to assist you with the application requirements.
- Assemble a Team: At your school, organize a team of teachers and administrators who are willing to do the research, write the grant proposal and, if funded, lead the project.
- Develop a Plan: Use academic achievement data and demographic data to identify your school's need - and develop a concrete plan to solve it. Take the time to think through everything you will need to successfully implement your plan.
- Write and Submit the Proposal: Carefully follow the grant application guidelines. Write the proposal, prepare the budget and submit the proposal before the deadline.
How much time does it take to prepare a grant proposal?
The amount of time and effort it takes to prepare a grant application is a direct function of the number of people on your project team. Most grants have four to six weeks from the time the application is released until the application is due. For larger, more complex grant proposals, this may not be enough time. Planning well in advance of the application release date can give you a head start and alleviate some of the pressure.
Which of my district's educators and key administrators should be included in a Grant Writing Team?
In addition to classroom teachers, every Grant Writing Team should include administrators who can make key decisions for the project. Since school districts may be organized differently, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly whom to contact about funding programs. Here are some examples of typical job titles that you may want to consider for your team:
- Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
- Elementary or Secondary Director of Curriculum
- Special Programs Director
- Coordinator of Bilingual, ESL, or ELL Services
- Director of Special Education Services
- Grants & Funding Coordinator
- Instructional Technology Director
- Career & Technology Coordinator
- Community Relations Coordinator
- Campus Administrators
The district Business Office, which typically manages federal and state funds, will probably know the most appropriate administrative person to contact.
What are the key components of the grant proposal?
Competitive grant applications require a specific type of application. Although state and federal agency requirements differ, the basic parts of a grant application remain the same. Those components are:
Summary or Abstract - Encapsulates all the components of the proposal and provides an overview of the proposed project.
Needs Statement - Specifies the educational needs that the project proposes to address and indicates how the needs were identified. Relevant data, such as standardized test scores or demographic data, is used to substantiate the needs of the targeted population.
Educational Goals & Objectives - First and foremost, educational goals must be aligned with the project's identified needs. An educational goal states the planned outcome that will solve the problem that is addressed in the needs statement. Specific, attainable and quantifiable objectives help to meet the educational goals.
Activities & Timeline - Activities are even more specific than objectives. They explain who will do what, when, where and for how long. A timeline describes project activities in an organized fashion, such as around quarterly deadlines.
Evaluation Plan - This is the most critical component of the grant application, especially with the heightened level of accountability within NCLB. Applicants must detail a comprehensive evaluation plan with specific accountability measures and procedures. Evaluation measures must directly relate to the previously stated educational needs, goals, objectives and activities within the proposed timeline.
Budget - Provides an estimate of project costs as accurately as possible at the time of submission. The budget and narrative should align. It is best to make a list of budgetary costs, based upon the narrative sections. Make sure that the budget includes a line item for every cost that the narrative describes.
What does it take to win a grant?
Many grant applications are accompanied by scoring criteria or rubrics. Read them carefully, because they will give you specific guidelines for creating a winning proposal. In the absence of a scoring rubric, read through the grant application and carefully make a list of all the items you must answer in your proposal. As you fill out the application, check off each item so that your proposal is in full compliance with the grant requirements.
Can I apply for more than one grant program at a time for the same academic program?
Yes, you can file more than one application for an academic program, provided your budgets do not request funds from both funding programs for the same activities or services. In other words, if you are awarded both grant awards, you will be required to coordinate the grant funds.
Can we coordinate funding sources between competitive and formula grant programs?
Yes. Not only can you coordinate funding sources, but the NCLB legislation now requires that school districts coordinate funding and resources when planning the budget for a competitive grant proposal. In many state applications, additional priority points are given to an application that coordinates funding from several different resources both within a school district and among community partners.
How do we coordinate more than one funding source within a grant program?
Coordinating resources can be accomplished easily and by several different methods. First, applicants are advised to consult with their local Business or Finance Office to understand the procedures for coordinating funds within the district's business structure. Secondly, applicants are advised to consult the state or federal regulations of the programs that they wish to coordinate. Specific state and federal regulations govern the coordination of state and federal funds. Federal Entitlement funds allow for flexible transferability of funds among specific programs, provided several requirements are met. Competitive grant funds usually allow a percentage of transferability of funds between budget codes, without filing a budget amendment with the SEA. However, the overall rule for coordinating funds is to consult the funding agency and its regulations BEFORE expending any funds.
How long does it take to finally receive grant funds?
Competitive grants are not a means to fast money. The time period from application to award can be as long as 9 months. Additionally, once a grant award has been made, the funding agency will negotiate the final award amount with the recipient. After the grant award is made, grant funds do not typically start to "flow" for another two to three months. Applicants are best advised to plan for a three-month "start-up" period at the beginning of a grant project. Use this period for tasks such as hiring personnel, ordering and acquiring supplies and setting up any hardware, software, or infrastructure.
How do I apply for private or corporate funds?
Private and corporate foundations generally fund within the geographic region or area where they have established their business, and award their funds on a quarterly basis. Like state and federal grant applications, private applications have specific requirements and formats to follow. Applicants will need to request these application requirements from the private or corporate foundation to which they are applying.
Can I use a grant template to help me write my application?
A grant template is a complete application that has been written by a company or organization. Some educational companies offer grant templates that provide "scripting" for a grant application. State and federal grant reviewers can easily recognize applications that have used these templates. If they discover that a grant template was used, the application will lose points in the scoring process, which typically leads to no funding.
Can I get grant support from organizations or publishers?
Yes. Various organizations and publishers, including Scholastic, can provide key information on their programs and services that you can add to your grant application. Scholastic has developed Alignment Guides to help you prepare specific grant applications.
How do I request assistance from Scholastic?
The Scholastic Funding Connection Web site offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources. If you need additional assistance, please contact your regional Scholastic Account Executive.
What are some of funding trends resulting from the NCLB legislation?
The NCLB legislation has forced educators to look more closely at how state and federal education dollars are spent. Here are some of the latest results of this query:
At the Federal Level:
Increased emphasis on scientifically based research is evident in all of the NCLB Entitlement and Competitive grant programs. Educators are examining instructional materials more closely to determine if they meet the federal requirements for scientifically based research.
At the State Level:
More and more grant programs are now tied to the percentage of Title I student population within a school district. Some states are limiting grant competitions to only those schools or districts with more than 40% Title I student population. Some states are awarding additional priority points in the competitive grant application scoring process for those schools or districts with more than 40% Title I student population.
At the Local Level:
Because more and more federal programs are focusing on assisting Title I student populations, district administrators have become more creative when planning for instructional expenditures. One of the largest trends in educational funding is the shift in how the Federal Entitlement funds are used. NCLB allows for increased flexibility in the transfer of funds among programs. Scholastic has provided a handout outlining the federal regulations for the transferability of Federal Entitlement funds. For more information, please consult the regulations and procedures from your State Education Agency.
Glossary of Terms
Applicant - Party requesting a grant or sub-grant
Application - Written plan outlining the grant program activities
Appropriation - Amount approved for expenditure under an authorization bill
Authorization bill - Legislation setting up the general aims and purposes of a program
Award - Funds provided as the result of winning a grant
Awardee - Recipient of the grant award
Budget - Financial plan for carrying out the project or program identified in the grant proposal
Competitive grant - Grant that must go through a competitive, objective review process
Continuation grant - Grant available for the continuation of a program already
Direct costs - Costs directly associated with operating a grant program, such as personnel, equipment, instructional supplies, travel expenses, and professional development
Entitlement funds - Money received on the basis of a formula such as number or percentage of student population
Formula funds - Money received based on certain requirements of the target population
Federal funds - Money appropriated by the US Congress to fund a program or project
Federal Register - Source of official announcements for application information
Grant - Award of financial assistance
Grant program - Activities and requirements that must be followed by the grantee
Grantee - Recipient of the grant award
Grantor - Party issuing the grant
Indirect costs - Administrative and financial costs associated with operating a grant program
In-Kind contribution - A non-cash donation of labor, facilities, or equipment contributed to a project
LEA - Local Education Agency (e.g., school or district)
Matching funds - Contributions of funds required of an applicant or contributor to match grant funds
Proposal - Details the project developed in response to the grant requirements
RFA - Request for Application
RFP - Request for Proposal
SEA - State Education Agency
Sub-grant - Awards made under the authority of another grant program as a means to distribute funds to secondary applicants, such as Reading First funds.
Supplant - To deliberately reduce state or local funds because of the existence of grant funds
Supplement - To support, reinforce, expand, or enrich an existing program with additional funds
Target population - The identified intended beneficiaries of the grant project activities and services
Tips & Techniques
11 Grant-Writing Tips
Grant writing is a challenge, even for experienced writers. Grants have always been highly competitive and are even more so today. Always remember that your proposal may or may not be funded. This will help to minimize stress and prepare you in case your proposal is unsuccessful.
Remember that a grant proposal is like a résumé that you would use when seeking a job. That is, you only have one chance to make a good impression and grab the reviewers' attention. With that in mind, here are 11 helpful tips to help you make the most of your efforts and ensure that your proposal is effective and competitive:
- Be honest. If you do not qualify, do not apply!
- Start early and plan ahead. Allow plenty of time for writing, revising and editing.
- Follow the directions exactly as stated. Carefully read the RFA/RFP to ensure that you include all of the required information and forms.
- Disaggregate student achievement data and identify your needs.
- Align your goals, objectives and activities to the needs identified by the student achievement data.
- Write in the active voice. Keep your answers brief and to the point.
- Write to communicate, not to impress.
- Write and revise. Ask an objective reader to comment, then make further edits as necessary.
- Keep it simple. Use a basic document design with a common font like Times New Roman or Arial in 10- or 12-point.
- Meet the deadline. You don’t want to miss an opportunity because your proposal was late. Send or deliver your proposal with time to spare.
- Learn from the past. If your proposal is not funded, be sure to request copies of the reviewers' comments. Consider an unsuccessful application as valuable practice and use those comments to improve your next submission.