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Successful School Grant Partnership Ideas

Funders seek collaborations in applications because they often lead to better results.


For those seeking grants, the competition is immense for scarce resources, and grant makers often seek partnerships in applications to prove sustainability and cooperation among different entities. For example, the REACH Healthcare Foundation evaluates grant proposals through a series of questions such as the following: “Is the organization creating new partnerships and collaborations, especially public-private partnerships?”   

Yet, many nonprofits, school districts, and institutions of higher education resist partnering in grant projects. Why is this? Collaboration can be extremely powerful. 

"The issues we face are so big and the targets are so challenging that we cannot do it alone. When you look at any issue, such as food or water scarcity, it is very clear that no individual institution, government or company can provide the solution. Collaboration between different types of organizations can produce previously unimagined solutions,” according to Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever.

Some examples of successful partnerships may be the impetus you need to start planning that next successful project. Consider the community impact of the following school and business partnerships:

  1. BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers), a non-profit in Houston, Texas, helps communities grow by focusing on positive strengths first instead of problems and issues. They call stakeholders community engineers. In 2013, they partnered with Emancipet, a nonprofit in Austin, in a $250,000 city-funded project to alleviate the stray pet population. Mobile spay and neuter clinics roamed around the east side of Houston to meet this need.
  2. Rainier Valley Corps in Seattle, Washington, promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, according to its website. The non-profit partners with 14 community-based organizations to run leader fellowship programs. Check out their Executive Director Vu Le's humorous and thought-provoking articles.
  3. Cincinnati Bell in Ohio turned Robert A. Taft High School into Taft Information Technology High School.
  4. A small, independent book store in Elgin, Illinois, sponsors a “Kids Love a Mystery Night” at Harriet Gifford Elementary School.
  5. When students at Mountain Home Junior High School are seen doing something good, a local business in Idaho provides gift certificates.
  6. In Middleburg, Florida, U.S. Navy representatives work with students in grades four to six every Thursday along with benefiting the Math Club at Doctors Inlet Elementary School. This same school also partners with BJ’s Wholesale Club, which provides food for faculty meetings and rewards such as pizza or ice cream to outstanding grade levels.

The possibilities are endless for these types of collaborations. Whether schools are in an urban or rural area, seek out opportunities to work with local, nearby community, or national businesses. Here are some of my ideas to help get you started:

  • Is there a local business where students could walk to for field trips?
  • Would a national educational company or local church sponsor goodie bags for teachers or pay for a professional development speaker or opportunity?
  • Perhaps teachers, stakeholders, board members, parent teachers associations, high school or college students, parents, and community representatives would participate in a partnership committee.
  • Talk to a chamber of commerce near you.
  • A local church might provide dinners for family nights or parent workshops.
  • A local store such as Safeway, Staples, Costco or Target may provide food or other needed supplies along with donating a percentage of each purchase to a school.
  • Some business employees may be willing to serve as tutors who review writing or other assignments students email to them.

Learn more about successful school grant partnerships on Educationworld.com.

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