This post has been updated slightly – go here to read the updated version.
I have learned the benefits of grant writing. In my career I have gotten a lot of grants, I’ve gotten at least one grant a year for the past 13 years straight (now it’s 17 years straight, 15-16)! I have to say that out loud to believe it! All together I’ve received 39 grants (17 of those 39 grants were awarded for my Environmental Project – some were repeat grants but I’m counting each year as one separate grant because I had to submit a proposal each year even though the original was accepted to show any changes AND I had to write reports at the end of each year). Thanks to all those monies I have been able to provide my students with some great learning opportunities with equipment I probably never would have gotten with building budgets.
Many of the grants I have written were rather easy to apply for. I basically just wrote about how I teach and what I teach. I was fortunate to have applied for grants that matched my teaching style. The hard ones are one that require a certain project. Grant writing is all about matching what you are doing to what they want to give money. If you’re lucky you will also be able to get what you need because some grants are very specific about what you can use their money to purchase.
If you have a great project that matches a funding source then you have to write a proposal convincing them that your project is the one they want to fund. My best project has been my Water Quality Project. The project is a work in progress and I try to improve upon it every year. What’s important is coming up with a proposal, the project doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you have ideas that are all worked out. I’m not trying to say that the idea isn’t all planned out just that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
The next thing that is key is to write many proposals. For all the grants I wrote and got there were many I wrote and didn’t get. You can’t let failure make you stop applying or stop writing proposals. It’s not easy finding a perfect match for your idea so spread it and use the feedback you get to improve upon it. Eventually you’ll find someone that wants to fund your project. Persistence is key.
People looking for grants want to read sample proposals to see what works. I’ve had my WA STEM grant proposal on my blog for people to see. In this blog I’ll share my most successful grant proposal in the link below. What people tell me about my proposals is that they appreciate how you don’t have to be a great writer or a technical writer. Sure they tell me they mean that in the best way. 🙂 I don’t think of myself as a great writer. I write plainly. The good thing is that it has worked for me in getting grants. So I hope my proposal helps. I have two versions of it as it evolved.
Here are some other grant proposals I’ve written for the Water Quality project:
Nonprofit Environmental Ed Grant Proposal
ING Unsung Heroes Application (note: Since I got the ING Unsung Heroes grant I found out that the VOYA Unsung Heroes grant is the same thing. I wrote a proposal for it and got a letter saying I’m not eligible to apply because I already got one!)
WA STEM 2012 Proposal
CenturyLink Grant Proposal (This proposal wasn’t awarded in the 1st round, it was awarded a year later! It’s worth it to submit proposals!)
Perseverance OR Obsession (My advice for writing grants.)
Perseverance AND Obsession (How both perseverance and obsession pay off for getting grants!)
[Addition 6/29/2013: I get people who ask me how to write grants to get iPads for their students. Some ask for themselves but I think you stand a much better chance of getting them for your students if your proposal is really strong in showing how it will improve student learning. Unless you find a tech grant the goal then is to come up with a project that is so cool they’ll love the project. Then show how getting some iPads for students is an essential part of your project. I always tie the iPad use into the project but not just for research. Sharing is important as I’ve seen more grants ask how you will share what you are doing and who funded it. 🙂 So having a component of your project where kids blog or share their work digitally with kids in other schools or around the world has worked for me. Just make sure iPads are NOT the main part of your budget. That will be less likely to get funded. In the end it’s great projects that students are involved and engaged in, that are innovative, that get funded – NOT proposals that ask for stuff.]