Entitlement Grants vs. Competitive Grants for Schools

Entitlement and competitive grants may come from various funding sources, but they both present hard work to acquire.

The Kennedy family illustrates an entitled family. Born into riches, raised in mansions, attended private boarding schools, went to Ivy League Universities. Their paths led to winning the Office of the President, Attorney General, Senate, House of Representatives, and the list goes on. Being a Kennedy is not an easy path to success; it still takes hard work, determination, stick-to-itiveness, learning, failing and achieving.

Like the Kennedys, entitlement grants are not an easy path to success.

Entitlement grants provide funds to agencies based on a formula, prescribed in legislation or regulation, rather than based on a peer or project review. The formula is based on such factors as population, enrollment, per capita income, or a specific need such as free/reduced lunch student percentage. The rules are strict and must be abided by the awardee, including following all federal guidelines, supplement vs. supplant guidelines, completing frequent reimbursement requests and completion reports and documenting all expenditures. Just because entitlement is in the title, does not mean the government awards the funds “willy nilly.” States are also required to complete risk assessments on Local Education Agencies (LEA); in Arizona, LEAs are rated low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk. A high-risk LEA will receive increased monitoring, and may have to return federal funds or not receive them at all in the first place.

I work with a charter school in Arizona, writing and managing their entitlement and competitive grants. A few entitlement grants are:

                - Title I (Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)ensures that all children have significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and strives to close educational achievement gaps.”

                - Title II-A (Effective Teachers & Leaders) funds professional development, strong teacher leadership, transformative school leadership, induction/mentorship and meaningful evaluation and support.

                - Title III (Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students) seeks to improve the education of English learners and immigrant children.  

                 -Title IV-A (Student Support & Academic Enrichment) focuses on three areas: well-rounded educational activities, safe and healthy students and effective use of technology.

                - RLIS (Rural and Low-Income School) grants provide funds to rural LEAs that serve concentrations of children from low-income families. It’s important to know that if a school receives RLIS funds, they cannot also receive federal Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) funds.

                - IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funds the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.


My personal experience illustrates a competitive family: lower middle-class, apartment living at times, public schools, state colleges. My path led to a successful business career, a University of Southern California Doctorate, raising a daughter who opened and runs a special needs school in Uganda and other achievements. Being in a competitive family was not an easy path to success; it still took hard work, determination, stick-to-itiveness, learning, failing and achieving.

Like my family, competitive grants are not an easy path to success either.

Competitive grants are based on project and peer reviews and are normally awarded by federal agencies, state agencies, corporations and private foundations. Arizona Department of Education competitive grants include: Comprehensive Support & Improvement (previously school improvement grant or SIG), State Tutoring, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth, School Garden Grant, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), School Safety Program, Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Systemic Leadership Development.

Reimbursable grants, which are either entitlement or competitive grants, require LEAs to make purchases first, and then request grant funding. Even though funding for any of these types of grants comes from various sources, writing either an entitlement or competitive grant is hard work.

Follow exactly what the request for proposal (RFP) says.


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