Organizing Data for Vital Grant Applications

Securing funding for schools has remained a challenge for rural, urban, and private schools since the turn of the century. In Illinois and Pennsylvania, the lack of a current state budget has affected the ability of schools and state universities to provide adequate resources to students.


Sherry Roland-Washington

Securing funding for schools has remained a challenge for rural, urban, and private schools since the turn of the century. In Illinois and Pennsylvania, the lack of a current state budget has affected the ability of schools and state universities to provide adequate resources to students. Educational leaders are faced with the dilemma, “How am I going to do more with less?,”  and the question: “How am I going to meet payroll and ensure the distribution of equitable materials for all students given budget constraints?” Although rhetorical, these are the realities of today’s situation in some states and districts.

Public school funding in the United States comes from federal, state, and local sources, with nearly half coming from local property taxes. The system generates large funding differences between wealthy, working class, and impoverished communities. The disparity becomes increasingly more granular from one state to another, among school districts within a state, and also within districts.

Educational leaders are confronted with two choices: believe the money is on the way, or try and empower the staff with creativity to balance school budgets and ensure the best possible education for all learners.   Given the obvious constraints of limited resources, many educators rely on grants.

Applying for grants is feasible, if the right structures are in place. After several years as a grant consultant for schools, faith-based organizations, and non-profit companies, the best advice I would give any school district, sports group, or church group seeking a grant is to take the time to establish an honest, transparent strategic plan aligned to your organization’s goals, mission, and vision. The next thing you need to do is get your data organized.

EDUCATIONAL GRANT TIP #1:  ORGANIZE YOUR DATA

Just as we organize our information in preparation to file taxes, it is vitally important organizations take time to compile their data in one central location. Whether you are working with a consultant, or have assigned the duty to staff in your organization, organizing the data in one location will free up applicant stakeholders to discuss how to implement the grant should it be awarded.. The first question to ask yourself is, “What data do I need? I recommend you start gathering the following:

  • An aligned strategic plan
  • The school’s budget
  • Data of the school’s performance (Academic, Behavioral, Attendance, and Graduation)
  • The survey data of the participants (Title 1 parent surveys, etc.)
  • The climate data of your region (crime rate, median income, unemployment data, etc.)
  • A needs statement
  • A list of the stakeholders
  • A list of your board members
  • Copies of your board minutes and agendas
  • Clearly explained long-term outcomes you wish to achieve
  • Clearly defined measurement metrics and documentation and reporting plans

Grant consultants call this process the “pre-collection period.”  These are likely just some of the documents you will need. The list of data needed is usually cited in the introduction of the grant you are applying for, so it is important to read this information carefully before you start pre-collection.

There are free websites to store your collection of documents. I prefer Dropbox and Livebinders.

It’s also a good idea to have this data readily available to review to help you decide which grants you should apply for. Here are sample upcoming federal grants from the Federal Government that educational leaders might be interested in applying for:

  • Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Programs
    • Program Description: This program provides funding to local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish or expand elementary and secondary school counseling programs, with special consideration given to applicants that can:
      • Demonstrate the greatest need for counseling services in the schools to be served
      • Propose the most innovative and promising approaches
      • Show the greatest potential for replication and dissemination
    • Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) Grant Program
    • Program Description: This program funds short- and long-term education-related services for LEAs and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them recover from a violent or traumatic event in which the learning environment has been disrupted.
    • Project Prevent Grant Program
    • Program Description: This program provides funding to LEAs to:
      • Increase their capacity both to identify, assess, and serve students exposed to pervasive violence, helping to ensure that affected students are offered mental health services for trauma or anxiety
      • Support conflict resolution programs
      • Implement other school-based violence prevention strategies in order to reduce the likelihood that these students will later commit violent acts

As always, please feel free to email me at sherry.washington@govgrantshelp.com with questions you have about the grant writing process for educational leaders. Next month, I will discuss how to use the data you have collected to create a logic model. A logic model is the secret key to attaining award-winning grants. Until then, continue to put students first; you matter.

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