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Gearing Up for the 2017 Education Grants Landscape

Negativity surrounded the 2016 U.S. Presidential election; none of us in the education profession are sure what the FY17 grant landscape will ultimately bring. Will the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) be abolished? What will entitlement funds such as Title I look like?


“You’re a puppet….no, you’re a puppet!” Negativity surrounded the 2016 U.S. Presidential election; none of us in the education profession are sure what the FY17 grant landscape will ultimately bring. Will the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) be abolished? What will entitlement funds such as Title I look like? Will these allocations continue to decrease? Instead of focusing on ugly politics, I’d like to provide some tools for planning your FY17 grant potential.

Grant Readiness: When planning for grant funding, this is the first item organizations need to analyze and review annually. In your organization, are all the ducks in a row to stand strong in the competitive grant arena? Diane Leonard, a frequent article contributor for GovGrantsHelp.com, offers a free online tool to help determine an organization’s grant readiness here. This Grant Readiness Assessment Strategy Prep (GRASP) tool only takes 10 minutes, and should be done at least once a year to show growth and to help identify areas still needing development. At a recent Grant Professionals Association (GPA) annual conference presentation, Diane outlined the following six grant readiness areas: registration processes, internal capacity, internal controls/policies, strengths, needs, and goals. The GRASP tool is a fantastic aid for strategic grant planning.

Where to Find Grants: Consider federal, state, local, and foundation grants. Google “education grants” or use grant databases such as: GrantFinder, the Foundation Directory Online (often free in public libraries), or local grant databases such as the Arizona Guide to Grants Online. Subscribe to grant blogs or newsletters such as Grant Gopher. Join a professional association such as GPA. If teachers apply for grants, ensure your school or district has a policy and procedure for this.

Grant Calendar: While some organizations prefer grant project software, here is a sample grant calendar template to consider. A grant calendar should be a living, breathing document shared with the grant team. Add opportunities as they come up, and delete those where changing funder priorities don’t match your organization’s current project needs. Use color coding such as green for grants that should be written first, and yellow for those that can be completed later as time allows. Change the template mentioned above as needed such as adding a Funder Relationship Building column for notes, or columns for Completion Report or Reimbursement Request deadlines and when they have been completed. Make it yours and match it to your organization’s needs.

Federal Grant Forecast: The DOE FY17 federal grant forecast can be found here. If your organization is ready and able to work on one of these highly competitive grants, bookmark this page and refer to it often for updates. Make sure all your registrations such as SAM.gov are correct and not expired; SAM.gov requires annual updating. Accurate and current registration on this site also affects your ability to apply for and receive federal and state grant funding. For example, make sure the entity/organization name is correct and that the organization’s General Statement of Assurances (GSA) and SAM.gov core data page are submitted on time to your state DOE as required.

Recommended Books for Grant Writers: Any book written by Dr. Beverly Browning is helpful. She wrote Grant Writing for Dummies and many others. Some people recommend The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need by Ellen Karsh and Arlen C. Fox. A list of suggested grant writing books can also be found here, compiled by Michael Wells.

Where To Find Sample Funded Education Grants: Wish you could find a funded 21st CCLC grant or Title I application to guide you? Most states and many federal grant programs provide links to funded applications for the public in the interest of transparency and accountability. For example, to find Arizona Department of Education grants, go here, choose a county, a school, and then choose Funding/Funding Applications on the left side of the webpage.

Staying Positive: Dean Karnazes advises us, “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” Here is a useful, reflective article from Dr. Lynda Wastyn with a link to her presentation slides from the 2016 GPA conference, “We Have a New President! What Does that Mean for Federal Grants?” Her tips include: signing up for grants.gov alerts, referring to spending bills, reading budget proposals, and increasing creative projects and collaborations. Perhaps those of us in the K-12 education profession and grant world are worrying too much about 2017; it takes a lot of work to radically change budgets, and one person only has so much power, as dictated by the U.S. Constitution. Here’s to staying positive and not giving up on the 2017 education grants landscape. Don’t become a “puppet.”

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