EDUCATION GRANT WRITING: 7 STEPS TO SUCCESS FOR THE CONSULTANT
We all know that good grant writers are fast learners. That’s because we have to synthesis a lot of information, both written and spoken, from a variety of sources, much of it coming at you in rapid fire bursts that sometimes lack adequate coherence. All this information marinates in our brains and eventually “pours” onto the paper as the compelling need, powerful goals, strong plan, etc.
But working in school districts requires other skills that have little to do with writing and are “embedded” in the education grant writing process.
Before you write one word of your grant proposal, Here’s what to do:
Make Friends with the Superintendent. You don’t have to meet for a drink, but you might want to buy her or him lunch out of the district. Your life will be easier, your grant proposal will be better and you’ll be more productive by gaining the superintendent’s trust. During the grant development process, clearly convey the activities that you and your planning group (usually chosen by the superintendent) want to implement with grant funds. Do this well and you will avoid a common problem of a busy superintendent who doesn’t remember approving some of your activities. I have faced and fixed this problem with “kid gloves” diplomacy.
Make Friends with Principals. In most cases, principals won’t participate and will designate a representative, usually the assistant principal to work with you. Make sure the principal concurs that proposed grant activities can be done. When you summarize the activities in writing to the assistant principal after the planning phase (which you should do), then copy the principal – don’t assume the assistant principal will do it!
Make Friends with Teachers. Inevitably, teachers are the main ingredients in education grants. Be sensitive to the already enormous burden of responsibility on the shoulders of teachers these days. And emphasize that the mandatory evaluation of grants projects is distinct from their evaluations by supervisors. This can be one of the biggest challenges you face.
Make Friends with the Union Representative. Make sure that all grant activities proposed are consistent with union policies and contracts. The union can “take the air” out of your grant proposal.
Pave the Road to Smooth Grant Implementation. As a consultant, you won’t be there when your successful grant is implemented. So when you are there, anticipate areas of concern and discuss them with the designated project director. There are always unforeseen problems. The smoother the implementation, the greater the chance that you’ll work there again.
Don’t Take the Money and Run. At a minimum, offer telephone support that pertains to the completed grant proposal. A personal appearance or two are even better. Think of this time investment as an investment in your future.
Be Persuasive: But Diplomacy Counts! You walk a fine line when you pursue the “gaps” in education services that you know will increase the probability of funding. Realize that a grant proposal is a clarion call to fix things – in a public document. Superintendents are not always happy about this.
…. After you accomplish these 7 steps, you can start writing your grant proposal.