How to Find the Perfect Grant for Your School (and what to do next…)
Updated: Jul 27
How do you find grants?
This is the most common question I get when I talk to school leaders.
I’m working with a new client this week and setting up my list of potential grants for the school.
As I talked with the school leader, I realized that it might be helpful to let you see what that looks like. If you are thinking about looking for school grants but you don’t know where to start, let me show you how it works. You can learn to search for grants like a pro!
As a school grant writer, I start by getting to know your school. I review your website and ask a few questions about what you hope to accomplish with grant funds. You can do this by brainstorming a list of possible needs for your school. Based on that information, it’s time to start looking for potential grants.
Get organized with this FREE spreadsheet. You can download your free copy of my Grants Tracker here.
Get to know GetEdFunding.com
My favorite source to search for grants is the free database called GetEdFunding.com. I enter the appropriate keywords for my search and start browsing. There are three ways you can approach this search:
General search - search for grants based on general information, such as grade levels served and deadline for grants, just to get a sense of what is available.
Location search - select your state or choose to look for national grants. As you review state grants, you may find grants that serve specific regions within your state. Watch for those as they are more local and tend to have less competition. It’s a good place to start.
Keyword search - using keywords provided on the custom search page, select the categories that meet your needs. For example, are you looking for grants to fund your character education program or to provide professional development for your teachers? There are checkboxes for over 70 different search terms to choose from.
Click here to start your search: GetEdFunding.com
Struggling to find resources for your school? Learn how grants can help you give your students what they need to thrive.
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When you click on “Search” the database will provide a list of all applicable grants. You can read the summary of each grant, and then click “Read more” to find more details. The next page provides information such as award amounts and a statement about the grant’s area of focus. This page includes a link to the grant website where you can learn more directly from the granting agency.
Organize the search
As I find grants that look interesting, I copy and paste the information into my “Grants Tracker” to organize my search. I’ve used a few different formats for this spreadsheet, and this version is the one I’ve settled on. I love it!
You can download your free copy of my Grants Tracker here.
Enter the name of the grant, the deadline, and the funding amounts, and then save the link so you can find the grant again later. At this point, you are simply collecting a list of potential grants. Don’t worry about details yet. You are just browsing.
Once you have collected a number of grants, review your list. Which grants have deadlines in the next 30 to 60 days? Which grants allow applications year-round? Do they require a letter of inquiry or a full application?
Choose a grant to review in more detail. You will need to make a “Go/No Go” decision before you begin the application process. Review the grant application, website, and any related materials to learn:
Is your school eligible?
Does the funding amount match your needs?
Does the deadline seem reasonable for your situation?
Do they allow funding for the type of purchases you want to make?
Are there any requirements or exclusions that make this grant impossible?
Beyond these basic considerations, you want to be sure the grant is a good match for your school, and that you are a good match for the grant. Consider the following:
Mission: is your school’s mission a good match for the grant’s goals and the grant agency’s mission?
Values: do the values and language that you find in the application seem to resonate with your school’s values?
Priorities: does your program idea fit with what the grant funder is trying to accomplish?
If any of these don’t feel right to you, don’t waste time. It’s a “No Go” for this grant.
If the answers to these questions are positive, the grant is worth pursuing. You’ve made your first “Go” decision. Download and print all related information. Color code the grant orange for “active application” in your Grants Tracker. Get ready to write your first grant!
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Get it done
Review the details in the application and related documents. Write down the deadline and back up your planning from there. For example, if the deadline is in 30 days, you will want to start writing your proposal in the next week. If you are writing the grant yourself, here is my suggested timeline. However, I strongly recommend that you begin to develop a grants committee for your school. You can learn more about that in this blog post: Do I really need a grant-writing committee?
Here is a rough outline of the 30 day work flow for a grant proposal:
Week 1 - Review grant criteria, including grant focus, funder’s values, and alignment to your school’s mission and vision. If there is a rubric provided, read it carefully. Review the list of required and optional documents.
Week 2 - Define the program purpose, title, and initial budget. Review your idea with anyone who will be impacted by the grant. Gather or request any additional information or documentation needed within your organization.
Week 3 - Draft your goals and outcomes, refine budget and timeline, and draft project narrative. Send reminders for any outstanding document requests. Review your proposal with stakeholders, seeking input for program improvements.
Week 4 - Collect all required documents and information. Format any documents to meet grant guidelines and word counts. Finalize budget and timeline, goals and outcomes. Write executive summary. Save time for final edits. Print the full document out and edit it, and then ask a trusted colleague to edit again.
Due Date - Submit grant application with all related documents well before final deadline
That’s it! That’s the process for finding and submitting a grant. You CAN write grants for your school. You CAN create an effective grants committee to develop a strong grants program. And you CAN find a grant writer to support your school's grant writing goals and help you fulfill your vision.
Ready to learn more? Check out some of my favorite posts:
Mission: to help 100 school leaders write successful grants in the next 5 years.
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