The Grant Seminar
* Getting Started
* Developing Need Statements
* Developing Project Activities
* The Grant Budget
* Evaluating Your Proposal
* Putting It All Together
* Sample Grant Proposal

Developing Need Statements

Most proposals ask the writer to clearly identify the project's needs and to state how the needs were gathered. This is difficult to do, especially when you are trying to write in brief, short sentences. I suggest you begin to think about your program in terms of students, staff, and resources or resource management. Let's take a second look at some of the examples from last week.

Example 1.

To enhance science materials, so that children have the chance to hypothesize and problem solve within low socioeconomic families.

This project description proposes a potential science program to help students and perhaps families from low socioeconomic backgrounds. To develop needs statements, I would begin by looking at available data; teacher, student, and parent opinion; and accurate analysis of the current educational program at your school. To begin, I would want to find out as much as I could about the students considered as grant program recipients. For example, you might collect standardized test data, attendance information, or perhaps grades. You would try to find all "documented evidence" about the students so that your project plan clearly meets your students' academic needs.

Science is a particularly tough area to determine past achievement, but is an easy area to determine what isn't in place. Science is often not tested on state and national norm-referenced tests, so you might have to rely on other kinds of data. Perhaps the students you are working with have not had life or school opportunities and experiences to spark an interest in science. Perhaps science has not been a focus at your school site. Perhaps teachers are in need of training to deliver the science curriculum.

You can often discover needs by asking questions of established groups. For example, your school advisory council might be asked to list academic needs of their children that they perceive are not being met.

After collecting data, you would want to keep your needs statements short and to the point. Usually, one student, one staff, and one program need is all that it takes to "paint a picture" for the grant reader.

Examples of Need Statements

About a year ago, I was involved in a grant project that aimed to help English language learners have access to high school science classrooms that traditionally have relied heavily on verbal instruction. From the abstract, here is a brief description of the project.

"The proposal provides a program for students involved in primary and sheltered language instruction to access the core curriculum in science. We will use technology tools including HyperStudio. Students will create projects which emphasize the use of rich visual images and the ability to structure their learning around graphic organizers by making HyperStudio presentations. This approach has been selected to provide interesting and meaningful ways for students to master core curriculum. All students receive the core and all learners will participate in their science classrooms. The project relies heavily on staff development, the training and deployment of student technology aides and parent volunteers."

The needs statement expands on the ideas introduced in the proposal abstract. The needs for this project were written in terms of students, staff, and parents. If your program does not involve some of these groups, just leave them out. Note in the example needs statements below that I have identified in the parentheses how I knew each need to be true.

A. Students need:

A1. Sheltered instruction and/or primary language instruction to fully access the core curriculum in science and social studies (bilingual program regulations, large numbers of Limited English Proficient students on campus, 44%).

A2. Instruction which uses visual aids and short presentations of content followed by practice, comprehension, and follow-up for English language learners (44% of students are Limited English Proficient, low reading, and composition test scores).

B. Teachers need:

B1. Strategies for becoming effective coaches of instruction and practice time for newly acquired skills (teacher opinion survey).

B2. An atmosphere of congeniality and sharing as they work collaboratively on solving problems of teaching and learning with English language learners in our proposed approach (teacher opinion survey).

B3. Professional growth and renewal (teacher opinion survey).

C. Parents need:

C1. Assistance in understanding the educational process (teacher and parent opinion surveys).

C2. Opportunities to learn how to coach their children (parent opinion survey).

C3. Ability to communicate with the school.

In this particular technology-enriched proposal, I also added a brief identification of how our school's technology use plan connects with the current proposed program.

D. Our school's Technology Use Plan stresses:

D1. Student acquisition of sufficient English language proficiency necessary to access core subject areas.

D2. Teacher acquisition of a comfort level necessary to support integrated technology activities through ongoing in-services.

D3. Parents as active participants in their children's education.

More Examples

The following descriptions are from seminar participants' registration forms. In this first one, the proposal writer has identified the project description this way:

Example 2

An individualized math curriculum.

If this were my beginning, I would try to brainstorm as many possible "clarifying" questions as I could. For example:

What do you mean by an individualized Math curriculum?

What grade levels of students would be involved?

What kind of program would you implement?

How have you identified your program's needs?

Why does this program meet the needs of your students?

As you can see, it is the skill of the grant seeker or proposal writer that will get your staff and others to clarify what they want to do and to be reflective at how best to determine needs, implement program, and evaluate the program

In the following example, how would you describe the student, staff, parents, and program needs?

Example 3

Our school wishes to develop a grant proposal to help us with funding a project which will primarily and initially begin to instruct our staff on the use of the Internet and how it could be incorporated for research or into a specific curriculum area. We would like to begin by training all staff on its design and functions, but target a specific grade level or curriculum area to integrate Web sites with certain subject areas. We would need funding for instructional purposes and for hardware purposes.


Your assignment for this week is to write your needs statements (at least one need for students and one need for staff). In our Week 3 seminar, we will continue to develop the body of our proposals. We will look at how to write activities that "fill the gap" from what is to what we want it to be.

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