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Top 5 Grant-Writing Books for Charter School Leaders

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

The best artists know what to leave out. Charles de Lint

In grant-writing as well as in art, there is great value in knowing what to include and what to leave out. Many of the books I've reviewed include details about grants that don't apply to you, as a charter school leader. You don't need to know, for example, how to price your grant-writing services or manage multiple clients as a professional grant writer. You don't have time to read the long story behind this or that case study, unless it happens to apply directly to your situation. You want real, practical advice and examples...lots of examples.

There are many, many more grant-writing books out there. If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below. It might become my next new favorite!

With that in mind, I've reviewed many of the grant-writing books currently available and my recommendations are below. I will briefly describe each book, what I like and what I think may not work for you. All of the authors of these books are experienced grant-writers, so the information in each book is high quality and valid. You really can't go wrong if you have time to read them all. But assuming you, like most charter school leaders, have limited time and attention to spare, here's my short list.

If you want to dive more deeply into grant writing, you'll want to save time and money by finding the best book for you. This is where you start.


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Dr. Bruce Sliger

Grant Writing for Teachers and Administrators by Dr. Bruce Sliger is an excellent resource for school grant writers. With experience in writing grants and training school staff members to write grants, the author provides depth and detail that directly applies to the type of grants you are likely to see in schools. My favorite features are the resources found in the appendix. Not only does the author provide several examples of complete grant proposals, he has developed a rubric to help you evaluate your own proposal. Definitely a worthwhile investment of time and money if you plan to write school grants.

Mary Ann Payne

Grant Writing DeMYSTiFieD by Mary Ann Payne found the perfect balance between educating the reader in grants and providing real-life examples. Even after reading several other books, I found myself highlighting and taking notes in every chapter. Payne covered a few topics that the other books missed, such as a discussion of ethical issues related to grants. She also touches on federal grants, corporate funding, and individual donations. The book provides examples and helpful descriptions of budgets, letters of support, and timelines. It also provides an extensive list of related resources at the back of the book. Although the book was written for nonprofit organizations, I found that 90% of the material applies to charter schools.

Nancy Burke Smith and E. Gabriel Works

The Complete Book of Grant Writing, by Nancy Burke Smith and E. Gabriel Works, is a book full of examples. While the text is somewhat dry, the examples are fabulous. If you already understand the basics of grant writing and just need samples to help you complete your next application, this book is for you. I found the organization to be a little confusing if you try to read it straight through, but if you are looking for specific information, such as how to create a logic model or how to describe and justify your budget, it's easy to find what you need. This book is written for the aspiring professional grant writer, but you can ignore those sections. Chapter 10 offers detailed examples of several grant proposals that are worth the cost of the book.

Cheryl L. Kester and Karen L. Cassidy

Writing to Win Federal Grants by Cheryl L. Kester and Karen L. Cassidy is an essential resource if you are considering federal or major grants. I reviewed this book in a recent blog, Are you ready for a federal grant for your charter school? Check out the blog post to learn more.

Beverly A. Browning

Grant Writing for dummies by Beverly A. Browning covers all the basics. The information provided is easily applied to charter school grants. There are a variety of simple examples shared throughout the text. The author provides information on federal grants, private grants, and corporate grants. I found the layout to be a little distracting and hard to follow, but the information is helpful once you find what you need. It's a good back-up resource, but I wouldn't choose it as my go-to book.

There are many, many more grant-writing books out there. If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below. It might become my next new favorite!

That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit. Amos Bronson Alcott


Grants Planning for Schools by Peggy Downs

Develop Program Grants that Align with Your School's Mission

Prepare for Success with Grants

As a school leader, you’ve thought about writing a grant…what’s stopping you?

You might think you don’t have time to write a grant proposal, or that your school won’t qualify. You might wonder how to train your staff to manage grants or how to find the grants you need. Or you could be worried that grants will take too much time to search and manage, which will distract you from your main job of managing and leading your school.

Peggy Downs, a former school director, teacher, and board member, shares her strategies for success with grants. With experience writing grants for schools and nonprofits, she understands the challenges and has learned what works. In this book, you’ll learn how to:

  • Prepare for Program Grants

  • Find the Right Grants

  • Write Your First Grant

  • Write More Grants

This workbook will help you clarify your vision for grants, align your goals with your school’s mission, and find the right nonprofit organizations to support your work. You’ll also learn how to establish a grants committee, work with a paid or volunteer grant writer, and establish a grants pipeline to support future funding needs.

Grant writing is more than just filling out an application. You need to develop a program that is attractive to grantmakers and likely to make a difference. You need to know how to communicate your ideas in language that grantmakers understand. And you need to know how to find the grantmakers who are most likely to share your goals and values. You’ll learn all this and more in Grants Planning for Schools.

Plan your next grant proposal with confidence when you follow these simple steps. Get started with Grants Planning for Schools today.


Ready to learn more? Check out some of my most popular posts:


Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at:

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