Tips for Applying Capital Grants for Education

If you can convincingly describe how stronger capital assets will better serve the school’s goals and students, you may be able to get capital grants.

Capital grants in education are used for one-time capital expenses that directly enhance a school’s ability to serve its students and achieve its mission. Grants may be used for such purposes as facility improvements, vehicles, equipment purchases and other non-expendable assets. Many times, funders of capital grants require the applicant to provide matching funds (when awarding matching grants, a funder agrees to pay an organization a specific amount of funds to match), challenge grants (when awarding a challenge grant, a funder agrees to pay an organization a set amount of funds based on meeting a set fundraising challenge) or give naming rights. Please ensure that you do research and that your board of directors is on board with the requirements of the capital grant you are applying for.

When applying for a capital grant, you need to describe the school’s goals and activities along with its students’ needs, and convincingly describe how a stronger school with stronger capital assets will better serve the school’s goals and students. Here are some tips on how to share the needs of the school through a capital grant LOI:

  • The introduction includes general information about the current facility, vehicles, equipment, etc. and leads up to a discussion of the need of the new assets.
  • The problem statement describes the needs of the school and its students and how the current assets hinders their needs.
  • The goals explain the aspirations that the school holds for serving its students and its goals for the capital project.
  • The methods briefly touch on how the school is delivering services but primarily focuses on how the school will conduct the capital campaign: how construction will proceed or items will be bought, and the activities the school is undertaking to connect current and future students to the new assets you are applying for.
  • The evaluation needs to focus both on whether the capital project will meet its goals (such as achieving all city fire and safety code standards) and on how the improved items will serve students.
  • It is also important to mention if the capital grant will not cover all costs for the project, discuss the future and additional funding, how the capital campaign is progressing and where the school anticipates raising the necessary funds to complete it.

There are many opportunities for capital grants in education. Here are a variety of capital grants that focus on different aspects of education:

  • The Louis Calder Foundation provides capital grants for charter, faith based and public K-12 schools.
  • Kaboom offers a playground construction grant to schools without a playground or with existing equipment that is unsafe for children.
  • The Hyde and Watson Foundation supports capital projects such as hard costs related to the construction or purchase of new facilities, building renovations and improvements, purchase of capital equipment and furnishings, and other one-time capital needs.
  • The Ahmanson Foundation serves Los Angeles County and provides capital grants for education to help with construction, renovation, equipment and furnishings, vehicles, technology and infrastructure, software, books and supplies.
  • Phoenix Suns Charities: local nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply for funding by submitting an engaging 90-second video to demonstrate how they are improving the lives of Arizonans.

As you can see, there are even local capital grant opportunities; it is important to do ongoing research for funders and foundations in the area of your school.

Remember that capital grants should not be the sole source of funding for your project, unless you find a single funder to support a small renovation project or piece of equipment. The larger the capital need, the more types of support you will need to secure for it. Integrate your grant seeking within the broader development plan, and you will secure more grant funding for your capital project. 

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