It’s the Time of the Season Filled with Joy

This bright and beautiful time of the year brings a bigger and brighter GrantsAlert in 2020!

Soon RFPMatch will unwrap a new GrantsAlert and we want you to share our joy and anticipation. For almost two decades, GrantsAlert continues to be grateful that you chose us to help you make a difference in education. Now we are grateful for the opportunity to expand our service to even bigger and better grant opportunities for you and your community.

What’s coming inside this new GrantsAlert package? Soon you will be able to find more grants, focused on what matters most to you. Also, you will have more resources to launch your grant initiatives. And most importantly, you will have a funding success team committed to help you, our customer.

At RFPMatch, our mission is to be your valued partner and resource in the quest for funding by harnessing the power of technology and proven expertise to efficiently assess opportunities. We do this through the 4 P’s involving our passion, our problem solving support, our partnership, and our personal commitment.

The Funding Success Team is getting ready to bring you the best and brightest opportunities in 2020. Sound the trumpets, and get ready to spread the joy as we have many new opportunities ahead for your students, classroom, school, and community!

The Heart, the Brains, and the Courage in Grant Writing

Every year, teachers quietly and anonymously pay an average of $500, and up to a $1,000, a year for supplies for their classroom.  Yet, this goes beyond pens and papers, and can include lessons and the tools needed to teach them.   For example, a recent Gallup, Inc. report shows that 43% of teachers purchase electronic learning tools with their own money, while only 19% apply for grants for these products.  Those numbers should be reversed with the goal being an ever-widening gap between the two.

We get it! Grants can be daunting, especially after a long day of teaching and a longer night of grading. But unless applying for a new library wing, most applications under $5,000 are no harder than a lesson plan. Plus, unlike a lesson plan, you can reuse the material for other grants without groans of bored students.  To get you in the right frame of mind, here are a few key steps:

  • Know your target– With a good tool like GrantsAlert.com, you will be able to review a host of possible grants. Target those that fit your need and scope right now and keep a wish list of future grants.  Most often, the worst outcome of a grant is receiving one you cannot complete.
  • Take time to prepare– Pick a grant with a deadline a few weeks out, preferably months.Get a cup of coffee and read through what is being asked.  Send out requests for needed data or input and enjoy dreaming what you want.  A rushed grant is evident by the lack of true vision and uneven nature of the narrative.   A last second grant will also discourage future attempts, and this is a marathon not a sprint.
  • Write in your own words-Again unless it is a new building, your authentic voice will speak louder than technical jargon. Know your material, speak to your expertise, but don’t forget why this is important.  People fund change in other people, not simply implementation of programs.
  • Work with partners-The best grants are team efforts as no one is great at all things.If finances are not your thing, get someone to review your budget.  Grammar are not a universally learned skill.  Plus, your administrative office will often have data you will need. Humility is your friend.
  • Enjoy- This work will lead to a student learning a skill, realizing a dream or overcoming a barrier.

Once you have your game plan, start writing and don’t worry about a perfect first draft.  If you need help, ask your fellow teachers if they have applied for grants or search for a website (i.e. grantsalert.com).  If you are going for a complicated grant and need support, go to your administration and see if they know of any resources that exist.  Finally, if you need professional support you can contact a consultant, but understand and factor in the cost.  Many people try to pay for consultants or grant writers out of the proceeds of grants, that is a VERY slippery slope and should be avoided.

Grants are often like the Wizard of Oz.  A lot of noise, confusion and fear that dissipates once the curtain is peeled back.  Yet, also remember there were three others (and Toto) supporting Dorothy to get to the end of the Yellow Brick Road.

Good luck and may you not encounter any flying monkeys, they are the worst.

Stressing About Writing A Grant?

Recently, I was working on a funding presentation and came across some warning information on a state website regarding grant writing services. This is a caution to school districts and/or schools about free grant writing services.

Beware of Free Grant Writing

There are companies that operate online offering “free” grant writing services that are not free. Some require you sign a contract before receiving an award that ask you to purchase from a third party in exchange for their services if awarded.

However, you cannot use grant funds before you receive the award and any purchases must be allowable. Agreements entered into before you receive a grant award are not payable with funds. We recommend that you contact your attorney before entering into any agreements.

Grant Writing expenses are paid with your funds and are not reimbursable with grant funds.

As a former school district and state department of education administrator, I agree with this cautionary statement. Yet, I completely understand the anxiety and stress many of us feel or have encountered when writing a grant.  The stress can be lessened and even be an enjoyable experiment when you have a buddy – a grant coach or mentor – working with you.

We want to hear from you and help you put the “FUNd back in Funding.” Send us an email at info@grantsalert.com.

  1. Tell us about your experiences in grant writing.
  2. Talk to us about your grant writing anxieties.
  3. Offer some strategies you have used to help make the grant writing process fun!

Provide us your contact information in your email and permission to use your funding insights. If we use your experiences to help others, we will send you a free $$ Stress Reliever for the school year!

 

 

The Bookends of Education and Funding Opportunities

As educators, we spend much time reading and studying. We know reading is the foundation skill for learning. Perhaps in your classroom you have compiled many books to share with young learners that demonstrate the importance of reading. Sometimes we use bookends to support the series of books and make the book titles stand out. My sister knows my love for horses and gave to me a pair of glass horse bookends that I proudly use to support the many resource books I have on grants, RFPs and other funding sources. By positioning them on the opposite ends, this pair of supports enables my books to be easily accessible to me. Lately in my survey of grants, I am seeing the bookends of education quickly becoming a growing funding movement. The bookends of education are Early Learning and Workforce Development.

These opposite ends of the education continuum are the bookends of a student’s educational career. Beginning with preschool learning through college and career readiness, the bookends of education bring lifelong benefits to each student and level the learning field. As a result, the areas of early childhood learning and career and college readiness/workforce development are quickly rising as major areas for investment among federal, state, local, and private funders. A growing number of public and private funders are issuing calls to action and supporting efforts in the bookends by offering grant opportunities.

Between the bookends, and standing tall, is also an area of growing interest and increase funding – the Whole Learner. The bookends frame and support the efforts of social emotional learning, school culture and safety, personalized learning, and family engagement. These are just some of the many supports contributing to the success of the whole learner and appearing in many grant applications.

As the 2019-2020 school year approaches, consider how your school offers solutions to support the bookends of education. Perhaps you offer solutions to benefit the Whole Learner. Look to funding to support the continuum of learning. It is available, here and now!

Put the Fun into Funding

 

Finding the right grant;

Crafting a logic model;

 Forming partnership;,

Creating the project design;

Detailing a budget;

Writing the application; and

Submitting all of this in a timely fashion

Wow — all these tasks sound like a lot of complicated and all-consuming work and really no fun.  It is a lot of work. Now in my 46thyear working in funding, it still remains a lot of work. Hopefully these years of experience and skills that I have learned around funding can bring you less sleepless nights, less sacrifices with your family and friends, and less tensions as the deadline for grant submission closes in. But most importantly, I hope to put the fun back into funding.

Let’s put all these multistep tasks into one whole-task condition. A grant proposal is really a call to action. It is a cohesive, persuasive, and well-researched need for change.

It begins by defining the problem you are trying to solve. It involves obtaining buy-in on the need and solution from internal partners (such as your school principal or superintendent) and external partners (such as business officials, PTA staff, evaluators, and/or community leaders). Taking the concept and mapping it out in a logical manner helps create commitment with the partners. During this time, be searching for appropriate, matched-funding sources. Don’t carry the burden of working on all these tasks alone — look for a small but devoted team. Establishing and following timelines and schedules that are doable and obtainable will lessen the anxiety and tensions during the process. When defining the project, think simple and clear outcomes, not complicated or confusing. Details for your budget should be realistic. Consider short, laser-focused sentences when writing.

At GrantsAlert, we remind ourselves to always strive for the fun in our funding work. My horse and I enjoy special moments when we come together and bond with laughter. As your small grant team or your larger partnership teams meet, take time to bond around your call to action. Enjoy the process and find the fun in funding!

 

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons to Fall in Love with Funding

February is a time of year when we are surrounded by images and messages of love. Perhaps you, or someone you know, may be considering a Request for Proposal to the love in your life.

At GrantsAlert, we fall in love everyday with being able to help you uncover the resources to make a difference in the lives of your students. We think of it as a love affair with funding. We propose to you, three reasons why you should fall in love with funding.

  1. Funding brings the financial means to make a difference in meeting student achievement goals.
  2. Funding builds your capacity to identify evidence-based solutions to meet your pressing educational needs.
  3. Funding strengthens your skills in planning and preparing to benefit your school and community.

As we buzz around looking for grant opportunities, we want to alert you to the vast opportunities that exist and hope that you take advantage of these funding resources for your students and community. So as the school year moves forward, consider a deeper relationship with funding and let us help you fall in love with funds.

Fall Funding: Challenges & Opportunities

The arrival of fall means your students are back in school. This year, we saw an increased challenge for teachers and schools as they struggle with the lack of resources to meet the demands of a new school year. We read about many, many of you reaching deep into your personal pockets ($479 deep according to this article!) to make the learning experience for your students conducive to a supportive school climate.

We also witnessed the tragic impact that many schools, most recently in the southeastern region, have had to overcome due to devastation from Mother Nature. One of our team members experienced, first-hand, the weather disruption by Hurricane Florence. Her family, including her school-aged children, has been displaced and left homeless. As she shares her story about the social and emotional affects to her children, we are reminded of community supports in time of need. Whether grants or fundraising efforts, we see signs of financial giving and support when we look around us.

Donorschoose allows teachers to crowdfund for classroom supplies and resources. Often, generous benefactors will match donations for specific subject areas or windows of time. This fall, several celebrities and philanthropists matched donations for various subject areas.

GoFundMe is another site that enables fundraising through online sharing. GoFundMe is the #1 site for crowdfunding campaigns, which range from raising money for family emergencies to supporting local school projects.

This fall, we also noticed many foundations stepping up with grants to purchase basic classroom needs.  Though the most recent deadlines have passed for some of these programs, there are a number of groups that offer financial support.  The American Association of Educators offers classroom grants to support projects, materials such as books, software, manipulatives and more.  The Kids in Need Foundation offers an online fundraising toolkit to help with classroom supplies.  Target offers grants to support field trip excursions for classrooms.

Search GrantsAlert.com to find more opportunities to support your classroom.  We hope your fall is off to a happy, safe, productive, well-funded start.

The Power of Community: Helpers are all around us

Summer’s hit documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, tells the life story of beloved television host Mr. Rogers. It’s a powerful film that highlights the importance of community and of the “helpers” (using Mr. Rogers’ lingo) who surround us.

We were reminded of his noble vision of community when this story popped up on our Twitter feed a few days ago. This teacher—while traveling to visit family—told the tale of her students’ needs to a fellow passenger on the plane. Her story was met with unexpected generosity and kindness from strangers. She left the plane with hundreds of dollars in donations for her classroom.

Her tale reinforces that good is all around us—and that helpers can be all around us, too. Sometimes, all we need to do is tell the genuine, heartfelt story of our schools and students, and the need is met.

Are you struggling to meet the needs facing your classroom this year? Consider how you can share the story of your students with potential helpers in your life.

In addition to talking with people you meet in your day-to-day routines, remember that there are many other channels. Neighborhood businesses are often willing to support local classrooms or to display school supply donation jars. The PTA is a great resource for flexible funding. School or district foundations are another source of assistance. Local or regional community foundations can provide support; in addition to the core foundation grants, many of them also host donor-advised funds that support education needs.

Finally, there are online crowdfunding sites, such as Donors Choose or Class Wish. This model allows you to share your needs with a broader community, often resulting in a greater chance of success.

Wherever you seek funding to support your students, remember to tell the genuine, heartfelt story of their need. Whether it is shared on a plane or online, the compelling story is the reason people will choose to give.

“We live in a world where we need to share responsibility,” Mr. Rogers famously said years ago. “It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Go tell your heartfelt story and find your heroes.

 

 

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.

 

 

Welcome to the NEW GrantsAlert Site

“Optimization” is the latest buzzword.  It’s the 2018 version of 1998’s “thinking outside the box.”

But we know there’s nothing new or trendy about optimization for teachers. Teachers are perennial optimizers! Teachers work tirelessly every single day to make learning as great as possible for their students.

Today, in honor of teachers everywhere, we are unveiling our own optimized work: the new GrantsAlert site. This site includes everything you loved about the former site, optimized for easier use. You can now search by state or by subject to find grants. The site is designed with busy educators in mind.

Our blog will continue to share grant-writing tips and resources, as well as round-ups of the latest grant opportunities.

We hope you enjoy the new GrantsAlert site.  And if there’s anything that would make the site even better for you, please drop us a line to let us know.

Cheers to our favorite people and the original optimizers: educators!