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Stop Ignoring Classroom Grants (Here’s Why)

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

I was the charter school director who had no clue how to make the most of classroom grants. In fact, most of the time I didn’t even know (or notice) that my teachers were submitting them. I admit I had other priorities. What was I missing? Turns out, I was missing a great opportunity to use classroom grants to identify my future leaders.

We’ve all heard the bad news. It’s getting hard to find good teachers. It’s getting harder to keep good teachers. And when you don’t have good teachers who stay with your school, how will you develop good leaders? Who will be ready to step into your shoes when you move on? I have a plan for how you can use classroom grants to help answer these questions. Keep reading to learn more!

Who are your future leaders?

Think about your active teachers. Who always has the new ideas? Who is focused on solving problems instead of just complaining about them? Who can you count on to go the extra mile? Watch for the following behaviors to identify your future leaders.

  • See who speaks up- Teachers who write classroom grants have a vision. They see a better future for their students and they are able to articulate that vision in a way that resonates with a donor. They build support for their idea and they get excited about making it happen.

  • See who steps up– Teachers who write classroom grants are problem solvers. They see an issue they care about, find a solution, and make a plan. They have the communication and organization skills to develop a proposal and convince a donor to invest in their program idea.

  • See who finishes up– Teachers who write classroom grants are committed. They have the motivation to follow through on an idea because they believe the grant proposal will make a difference for their students. They see the project through to the end because it matters to them.

Teachers who write grants become school leaders who write grants. These teachers are showing that they have initiative, passion, and capacity to carry out their ideas. Aren’t these exactly the qualities we look for in future leaders? You can develop your next generation of school leaders by starting with your teachers who are writing classroom grants.

How to use grants to develop your future leaders

You can choose to ignore classroom grants like I did, or you can use them to build a leadership development pipeline. It’s a grand vision, but stay with me. It’s actually pretty easy.

  1. Remove any roadblocks to writing classroom grants. Do you have any policies or procedures that inhibit grant writing at your school? Do you provide information and support for grants in a timely manner when asked? Does your response to teachers demonstrate encouragement and support? Be open and supportive of teachers who write classroom grants.

  2. Provide training and resources for classroom grants. Sure, some teachers can figure it out on their own, but training can improve their skills and give them confidence. It shows that you believe this is important. Invest in their professional development in grant writing and you will see more teachers willing to step up.

  3. Create a school wide culture that encourages teacher initiative. Recognize successful classroom grants in your school communications and board updates. Provide time and access to information so that teachers can collaborate on grants and other joint projects.

  4. Invite teachers who have written classroom grants to join your grant-writing committee or other grant seeking efforts. Their experience in writing classroom grants will be a perfect foundation for writing more extensive school grants. They provide a teacher’s perspective to your program ideas, which will make your grant proposals stronger. As you work with them, you will see their skills in teamwork, organization, communication, and potential leadership.

  5. Develop additional opportunities for leadership development. As you work with these teachers, you will find your talented future leaders. You will see who is ready to take on more responsibilities. Create an organized process for identifying, testing, and training potential leaders.

Teachers stay where they feel their professional needs are being met. Supporting their classroom grant activities not only benefits their classrooms, it benefits your school and your future.

Classroom Grants Info from the Education Grants Experts

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Peggy Downs, Grants Specialist for Charter Schools

My Mission: to help 100 school leaders write successful grants in the next 5 years, empowering you to create and lead the schools you envision.

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