If you’ve never been a grant reader before, I highly recommend that you volunteer for the next available opportunity.  No other single experience can better prepare you to become a successful grant writer.


Having been a reader for a national grant program decently, I was surprised by the number of proposals that left me shaking my head.  Reading other people’s proposals is a surefire way to learn what works-and what doesn’t-when it comes to applying for technoloty grants.

Here are eight simple dos and don’ts, based on my own experience as a reader:

1.  Don’t beg.  There are right and wrong ways to ask for oney.  The right way makes a strong case for need, without making the applicant appear desperate.  One applicant wrote, “Please consider our application as one that is sincere when we way, ‘We’re here for the kids.’” Yet, isn’t it safe to say this maxim would apply to any of the other proposals as well?

Funders make decisions with their heads, not with their hearts.  Offering your best ‘sob story’ makes you appear unprofessional, which could undermine your credibility in the eyes of the funder.

2.  Do describe specific educational goals and objectives.  Funders want to support the end result-improved student learning-and not just the means to that end, so make sure you describe the specific learning objectives you hope to accomplish.  Correlating these goals and objectives to state or local standards might further bolster your project’s credibility.

3.  Don’t recycle an old proposal.  Make sure your proposal specifically targets the priorities of the grant program you’re applying to.  When reading a proposal, it’s easy to tell if it was written expressly for the program in question, or if it’s simply a hastily repackaged version of an older request.

4.  Do describe you project clearly.  You’d be surprised at how many proposals don’t even describe their projects in enough detail to give readers a sound basis for judging the projects’ value.  What, exactly, will students be doing, and according to what kind of timeline?   How will students use technology, how will this use of technology contribute to students’ understanding, and how will the grant money support such a project?

5.  Don’t use clichés fancy words, or ”education speak.”  The easier your proposal is to read, the more likely it is to be funded.  Don’t assume that all grant readers are educators, or that they will understand what you mean by words like “metacognition.”

6.  Do proofread.  As amazing as it sounds, I caught many typos and misspelled words among the proposals I was reading.  How can you be trusted with the funder’s money, if you cant be trusted to spell all the works in your proposal correctly?

7.  Don’t make technology an add-on to an existing project.  Successful proposals describe projects in which technology is an integral component, not just an add-on to jazz up a traditional lesson plan.  In other words, is technology necessary to achiever your project’s desired outcomes?

8.  Do be creative.  Generally, funders are looking to fund model programs that haven’t been tried before.  What you’re doing in y our classrooms might be very good-but is it any different that what other teachers are doing in their own schools today?

Proposing a unique project, in which technology is a necessary means to educationally sound goals, will propel your grant application to the top of the pile.

Dennis Pierce is the managing editor of eSchool News.  Re-published by permission from the September, 2007 issue of eSchool News.   To subscribe, click here.