Special Edition: New Year's Resolutions
By Don Peek

I like New Year’s resolutions.  Though most people don’t have a great track record for keeping these yearly commitments, I believe in them for two reasons.  First, I am an optimist and think that people should always strive to do more and be better each day, each month, each year.  Second, New Year’s resolutions are the beginning of a plan.  If we make a plan, there is a chance that something wonderful may happen.  It might not, but it could.  Without a plan, nothing will happen.  I can guarantee that.                                                                                                                                 
 I encourage you again this year to make New Year’s resolutions as they relate to your school’s grant program.  I am going to suggest three such resolutions, and I hope you will decide to adopt one or more of them as you attempt to help your school gain grant money during 2012.

My first suggestion for a New Year’s grant resolution is to write your first grant if you’ve never written one.  It doesn’t matter what the purpose of the grant is or how much money you receive.  The first grant you ever write is the most difficult, and you have to get it written before you can write your second, third, and fourth grants.  Make a resolution to find a grant and apply for it in January.  Once you get that first one out of the way, you can then decide on other grants to write later in the year.

If you are a more experienced grant writer, I suggest your New Year’s grant resolution be a little more specific.  I suggest you determine the greatest problem your school, campus, or classroom is having and determine how you can remedy or at least alleviate that problem by winning grant money for your school.  You might be able to overcome the problem by writing just one grant during 2012, or you may have to write several to have the impact you desire.  Make a commitment to seek out that main problem and begin writing grants by the end of January or the beginning of February to solve that problem.

My third suggestion for a New Year’s resolution is also for more experienced grant writers.  I recommend that you make a resolution to develop an overall plan for writing grants for your school.  You might not end up writing all of the grants that this plan entails, but every school should have a plan that coordinates the manner in which a school determines its largest problems, develops plans to correct those problems, and then goes after grant money to fund those programs.  If you don’t have a plan in place, most grant efforts become a scattered affair that have little impact on the problems a school faces.

These are my main three recommendations for 2012 New Year’s resolutions.  You may adopt them.  You may not.  Please at least consider them as you head into this promising New Year.  And if those above do not suit you, you might want to consider some of the following resolutions:

To develop a grant committee at your district or campus.
To set a dollar amount that you want to receive in grants.
To set the number of grants you want your school to receive.
To hire a part-time or full-time grant writer for your school.
To find a granting entity in your community for a multi-year relationship.
To attend grant-writing training.
To find a grant-writing partner. 

Yes, each of these ideas is the beginning of a plan.  Each of them will eventually help you bring in more grant money to your school.  Each of them is forward-looking and optimistic.  But that’s okay, because we are all educators in one way or another, and I don’t see how you can be an educator and not be forward-looking and optimistic.

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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