Do You Need Additional Funding for a Program?
By Don Peek

Fall is always an exciting time for schools -- new programs, renewed hope. And what would fall be without a glitch or two? Like the new, promising program that’s just getting off the ground... that you already realize is not properly funded. You know you’ll get good results from the program as it stands, but not nearly as good as you could get with some additional funding.

The solution?
Apply for a grant.
Not next semester.
Not next month.
Apply this week!

Don’t let a program that could really make a difference to your students falter because of a few thousand dollars that you can get with a few hours of intensive grant writing.

It’s not that unusual for a good program to be underfunded. A program might look well-funded on paper during the planning stages, but you don’t really know how popular or successful that program will be until it gets started. You may have so many students show up for a new after-school tutoring program that you need five teachers to accommodate everyone instead of three. You may find that you that you need math manipulatives for a new elementary school math program that you thought weren’t necessary during planning. We once started a piano lab for our students in middle school and had to add both keyboards and class periods to take care of the huge interest.

Often you don’t even need a large amount of money. Sometimes an extra $3,000 to $5,000 can make a tremendous difference in the results you get from the program. For that kind of money, educators often tap into grant programs offered by local retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, or Home Depot when those companies' programs match the school’s needs. Local foundations are another excellent source for this type of grant money. For larger, longer-term money, you may want to look for state or federal grants to support your program. Of course, getting state or federal grant money is usually more involved; it takes longer to complete the application and to receive the money if you are successful in winning the grant.

So here’s the plan for the rest of the semester:

  • Start looking closely at any program in your school that you feel could be very successful but is, at present, underfunded.
  • Calculate the amount of money you need.
  • Immediately begin searching for grants that fit the needs of your program.
  • Apply for at least two or three grants to be sure you get most of the money you need.
  • Start today.

Let me add one word of encouragement: For some strange reason, educators are not applying for as many grants this fall as they have in the past. They may be discouraged by the current economic climate, or they may simply be applying for fewer, larger, federal grants. Whatever the reason, your chances of getting your grant application funded have increased. If you start applying now, you can avoid a rush of applications that always come at the beginning of a new semester. Again, your chances of winning grant money are better right now than ever before!

Don Peek is an expert in school funding. He has run The School Funding Center since 2001. Its database contains over 100,000 grants available to all types of schools in the United States. Don worked in education for 20 years as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent before becoming the VP then the president of the training division of Renaissance Learning, developer of the Accelerated Reader.

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