Getting an Edge on Your Grant Competition
By Don Peek
To consistently win competitive grant money, you must have an edge on your competition. One easy way to do that is to make sure you thoroughly address every part of a grant application. If you leave out a part, or simply put in "fluff" to meet the application requirements, it is likely your grant application will not be competitive and you will not receive money.
Let's say you are going to fill out an application for a reading grant. The grant application has seven parts, and one part deals with community involvement. You are trying to write a grant for a reading lab that, in your initial planning, would not require community involvement. The other six parts of the application are worth 95 percent; the community involvement part is worth only 5 percent. You simply decide not to fill out the community involvement part of the application because the rest of your application is strong enough that the 5 percent won't matter. That would be a devastating mistake.
Many grants are so competitive that the funded applications have scores of 97 percent or higher. Most other grant writers know that in order to be competitive they need every single point they can muster.
But you say, "I'd never leave a section of a grant application blank. I'd put something in there whether we intended to implement it or not." That's the second biggest mistake you could make. Believe me, grant readers are pretty good at sniffing out the fluff and the disingenuous. Now for the solution: In the planning stages, even before you begin to write your grant, make sure you have a good, strong, balanced program that more than meets the criteria for every required section. Be sure that every required area actually enhances your program.
Be sure the community is involved in your reading lab in a way that will make your reading scores increase and make the community feel as if they played a role as partners in the new program. In essence, regardless of the requirements of the grant, you should write each section as if it is the only section the grant readers will score. Make each section that good and that vital to the overall program, and you will get the points you need to win most of the grants you write.
You will truly have an edge on your competition.
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.