What are your Program Needs?
By Don Peek
Many of the people who contact me about getting grant money need a piece of equipment or certain supplies and want to write a grant to secure the needed items. In other words, they need money.
Applying for grants is not really about just needing money. It has to be about solving a problem. You should apply for grant money to start or enhance a program that will solve a problem for your school or organization. Let’s look at some examples.
You say you need five new computers. My question, and the question of anyone thinking about giving you grant money is, “Why do you need five new computers?”
Do you have five old, outdated ones that are used so much they are barely working?
Do your students have to wait in line to use these computers? Do you have software that you can’t use because the computers are too old to run it?
These are questions asking you what kind of problem you’re trying to solve. When you get ready to request grant money, your application should address those problems you are having and need to alleviate.
You might need five new computers to put in your classroom so students can take Accelerated Reader tests without going to the library. The five computers will help increase your teaching time and provide your students with a better testing atmosphere. This one change could help increase reading scores.
You might need the five new computers in your library because students doing research do not have access to the Internet anywhere else in the building. Classes going to the library currently have to put three students at each computer. By adding five new computers, you can assign two students to each computer making the research experience more meaningful. You should be able to document the individual increase in computer research skills.
You still get the five computers, but you are now solving a specific problem that is likely to have a positive, measurable result. You’re not just asking for money; you’re asking for help to improve your school.
Think of three men standing on a corner near a restaurant. One has a sign asking for $10. Another has a sign asking for $10 to buy food. The third has a sign asking you to take him inside and buy him a meal because he is hungry.
Who will get your $10?
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.