Successful Grant Writing: A Tip from Italy

One (very lucky) GrantsAlert team member just returned from a glorious vacation in Florence, Italy. Along with tales of rich gelato and amazing art, she shared a story about the Duomo—the city’s iconic dome—that resonated with all of us.

Back in Italy’s heyday, an iconic cathedral was built in Florence that included space to add a jaw-droppingly enormous dome.  The problem? Nobody knew how to design and build the dome structure to complete the cathedral. In 1418, the leaders launched a contest to see which great artisan was up for the challenge for the reward of 200 gold florins (the currency of Florence in the 1400s).

A number of men approached the leaders with design ideas. One of those men was Filippo Brunelleschi, who provided drawings that showed an enclosed dome without visible crossbeams for support. When asked how he would accomplish the dome without the typical supports, Brunelleschi allegedly showed them a turnip that he had carved as a model. (A favorite tidbit about that turnip: out of fear that others would steal his design, he immediately used the turnip to make a soup to keep his design secret safe.)  Brunelleschi’s design was ultimately chosen and is now the acclaimed Duomo of the Florence cityscape.

What does this architectural feat have to do with grant opportunities for educators?

The process—right down to the turnip model—has a lot of similarities with the grant protocol of current times.

While today’s process might be a touch more sophisticated, the core qualities of a successful applicant have withstood the test of time: creativity, clarity, and ingenuity.

Brunelleschi was able to convey his idea in a way that proved him to be the right designer for the job.  In the same way, successful grant applicants are able to clearly articulate their needs in order to thoroughly address their challenges.

As you apply for grant opportunities, remember to align your needs to the grant proposal with as much gusto as Brunelleschi did. Tap into your creativity to tell the story of your project. Be as straightforward as possible, without losing the enthusiasm of your work. And, don’t be afraid to sprinkle in an unexpected element (think: turnip) to help the grant reviewer see the soul of your proposal.

GrantsAlert is proud to be your resource for education funding opportunities so that you can win funds to make your school or district a masterpiece.