School-based grants are available from a variety of funders for many classroom and school-based needs and programs. Schools who wish to pursue grant funding are encouraged to form grant teams through which research, writing, and submission of grants may be conducted. The district grants department is also available to assist you in this process. Grants Overview, Policy and Procedures
To aid in your grant writing process, the following are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
Where can I find grant funding for my classroom or school-based project(s)?
- Fundsnetservices.com – A searchable and comprehensive grants directory of funding opportunities by topic. Teachers and administrators are encouraged to access this website often for funding ideas.
- Donorschoose.org – Site requires that teachers register for an account, through which private investors can make donations to classroom projects. Many teachers report great success with this process.
- Foundation Center – Subscription site that offers limited search capabilities to visitors. However, the Main Branch of the Greenville County Library offers this service in the 2nd floor reference department. Comprehensive listing of national and international corporate and private foundations.
- Grantsalert.com – Website dedicated to announcing upcoming corporate, federal, and foundational grants specifically for educational needs.
- Grants.gov – Grant database searchable by keyword, category, or agency.
- U.S. Department of Education – Links to federal grant competitions.
- S.C. Department of Education – Links to state and federal competitions.
The grants division will also provide information about funding opportunities appropriate to GCS teachers and local schools. Grant announcements will be publicized through the following:
- Bi-weekly E-bulletin prepared and distributed by the GCS Communications Department
- Management Memos distributed to school principals
Is technical assistance available from the district for preparing school-based grants?
In addition to preparing, submitting and tracking competitive grant applications for district-wide initiatives, the grants division is also available to assist individual schools with project-specific proposals.
The services available to schools include:
- Review of grant guidelines as presented in Requests for Proposals (RFP)
- Evaluation and review of proposal narrative and budget/budget narrative
- Editing and writing support as requested
- Preparation of application forms and assurances
- Research assistance
- Assistance in the submission of grant applications and attachments
What policies and procedures are required for submitting school-based grants?
In an effort to supplement the educational efforts of local schools, the grants division encourages the development of competitive grant applications by local schools, teachers and district administrative units. Principals and directors of administrative units will be responsible for approving grant applications and to provide the subsequent oversight to ensure the proposed project is implemented successfully, manage awarded funds and prepare/submit all required reports in accordance with the original grant application. The grants division is available to assist with any of these activities.
In the event that the grant requires district signatory approval, the school should provide a copy of the submitted grant to the grants division for filing. Please include all components of the submitted grant, including a copy of the completed signature page(s) and assurances.
Proposals and grant reports may be submitted to the grants division for review, evaluation and editing at least 10 days prior to the grant submission deadline. As necessary, the grants division can assist with the procurement of all appropriate attachments.
What are the primary components of the typical grant?
- RFP: RFP stands for “Request for Proposal.” Funding sources often use an RFP as a grant announcement and the guidelines for the application..Because this document explains basic criteria concerning who may apply, what types of activities are fundable, deadlines for submission, page limits, award amounts, as well as necessary reporting throughout the project period, it is extremely important to read the RFP in its entirety before deciding to submit a grant proposal. Keep in mind that most funding sources will also include the selection criteria or their top funding priorities. Make sure that the organization’s mission and proposed project align with the priorities, goals, and mission of the funding source. If you have questions or need further clarification on a section of the grant, the contact information for the government office, foundation, or other agency should be listed in the RFP.
- Cover Letter: Cover letters introduce your organization as well as your project, target population, and goals/outcomes to the funding source. Other important info to include is the cost of the project, the expertise of your agency in implementing projects, and why your project aligns with the funding agency’s goals.
- Needs Assessment: The Needs Assessment provides information on who the target population is and what their needs or issues are. It is important to use recent data and statistics to justify the need for a specific project among a certain population. Overall, it is important to present a compelling argument that not only explains the need for a project but also discusses what will happen if the needs of the target population remain unaddressed.
- Project Narrative: The Project Narrative serves as the project design section. In this section, it is important to be as specific as possible when discussing how the project will address the proposed need and the overall operation and timeline of the project. Other components to include are location, description of activities, length of project, people served, number of staff, professional development or training opportunities for staff, partnerships, sustainability, and any other pertinent information that assists in thoroughly describing the project.
- Strategies, Objectives, and Outcomes: Oftentimes, this section is included under the Project Narrative and discusses the measures used to evaluate the overall success of the implemented project. Strategies are the specific actions or activities that staff will utilize in order to achieve the project goals and objectives. Goals are the general statements that describe what the project is ultimately trying to achieve, while the objectives are the actual outcomes attached to specific goals that are measurable and can be analyzed to indicate the actual level of project success.
- Project Management: This section is also often included under the Project Narrative and outlines in detail how the agency plans to implement the project. Pertinent information for this section includes: who will manage the project and what will the main responsibilities be for this lead position and other staff positions, will an advisory board monitor the project’s main activities and if so, who will comprise this board? Resumes, vitae, project job descriptions, and/or organizational carts should be included in this section if asked for or if necessary to strengthen this section of the grant. Overall, this section should outline the agency’s experience and capacity to not only implement a project but also to manage all aspects of the funded grant.
- Evaluation: The Evaluation section should explain who will conduct the project evaluation, how the evaluator was chosen, the qualifications of the evaluator (may attach resume if necessary), how and when the evaluator will conduct the evaluation (i.e. how many times per year will evaluation take place, will there be onsite visits, surveys, individual interviews, etc.), and what data will the evaluator collect.
- Budget/Budget Narrative: The budget serves as a financial interpretation of what the project activities will cost in order to achieve the outlined goals and objectives. It is important to ensure that for each person, activity, supply, equipment, training/professional development activity, travel expenditure, evaluation, communication, incentives, etc. mentioned in the narrative, there is a line item that reflects it in the budget. Using a practice worksheet or budget template will help ensure that no items are left out of the final budget document. A budget narrative should also accompany the actual budget. The narrative affords the potential grantee the opportunity to discuss in more detail what is proposed in the budget and justify the need for each of these line items in order to facilitate a comprehensive and successful proposal.
Where can I find statistical data to make my application more compelling?
- School Report Cards
- PACT, HSAP, SAT, ACT, & AP Score
- National KidsCount
- State and County KidsCount
- National Center for Educational Statistics
- SC Department of Education: Reports, Research, and Statistics
What are some common do’s and don’ts of grant writing?
- DO read the funders guidelines and criteria very carefully. Follow all requirements exactly.
- DO follow the required format for the proposal exactly. Label the sections of your application with the exact section headers indicated in the proposal. Use the font, font size, margins and page limits as indicated in the application instructions.
- DO be original and imaginative when designing your project. Funders like innovative approaches to old problems or issues.
- DO look at the types of proposals and organizations the grantor has funded in the past.
- DO use active verbs and sentence structures instead of passive ones. For instance, DON’T write, “The school finds that students show low achievement scores in reading.” Instead, write, “Students in our district have low reading scores.”
- DO describe the need in positive wording. For instance, DON’T write, “we desperately need your financial help.” Write, instead, “We have a wonderful program that we want to [make more cost-effective] [expand to include more students][impact the broader community], etc.
- DO define terms, acronyms and lingo specific to your school, program or community the first time they are referenced in the proposal.
- DO write as though the funds have already been awarded. Avoid phrases such as “If this project is funded.” Tell them what WILL happen when the grant is funded.
- DO use everyday words and short, concise sentences.
- DO provide sufficient research, statistics and background on elements of your project, such as who it will impact, how it will change your school (community, etc.)
- DO a spell check and read for errors in spelling, grammar and clarity.
- DO have someone unfamiliar with your program read the grant to ensure it is comprehensive and clear.
- DO prioritize your budget so that your request falls in the funding range established by the application. If additional funding is required, address how you will cover those needs through the school budget, other funding streams, or realignment of projects goals.
- DO check all budget calculations multiple times.
- DO send proposals only to those funders who support efforts in your geographical area. Some funders focus their support on the communities in which they are located or have satellite operations.
- DO submit the proposal in the manner (e-mail, online, mailed copy, etc.) indicated before the deadline. DON’T call the funder and request an extension.
- DO attach any items requested in the proposal and ONLY those items unless the funder specifically states they will accept other items.
- DON’T call, write or contact the funder about their decision until the published notification dates have passed. Most grant review processes last several months and the funder will indicate the manner in which you’ll be notified of their decision. Check the funder’s website prior to contacting them to ensure they have not announced their grant winners online.
How do I write a successful grant?
Although grant verbiage may vary between funders, the basic grant application will consist of a needs statement, project narrative, a strategies, objectives and outcomes section, project management, evaluation, budget form and budget narrative.
The grants division has created a basic training power point presentation on how to write a grant - The Basics of Grant Writing: Writing Winning Proposals (PDF version).