If you work for a large school district, it might seem hard to disseminate information about upcoming grant opportunities to your staff in a timely manner (that is, more than a week or two before the submission due date!). 

Fortunately, however, technology can help.  Here are six ideas for how you can keep ahead of those fast-approaching grant deadlines:

1. At the beginning of each school year, create a master list of the projects that your district wants to seek funding for during the next nine to 12 months.  Research potential funders for these projects and add this information, along with pertinent deadlines, to the master list.  This information can be made available to staff on an internal website.  At the beginning of each month, review the deadline dates and send an eMail message to your staff, reminding them of the upcoming grant deadlines for that month.

2. If there are enough projects related to specific departments, consider creating the database described above by department.  This way, you r math and science teachers won’t have to comb through art-realte4d projects or funders when they look at the database, for example.  They can confine their attention to a database that deals specifically with funders who support math and science projects.

3. If you r district has monthly departmental meetings, put yourself on the agenda and consider using these meetings as an opportunity to give staff in each department a “heads-up” about upcoming grant deadlines.  As with suggestion No. 2, this will enable you to provide information that is specific to each department.  You should keep your informational report short and relevant to those who are present.  Be sure to give your staff enough lead time to work on a proposal or application. 

4. If you find out about a potential funding opportunity that might be viable, you should share it only with the appropriate staff.  However, if it’s a funding opportunity for “secondary education, : for example, then you should disseminate it to all of the department heads and follow up in a few days to see if anyone is interested in applying for the grant.

5. Consider scheduling an internal workshop for your staff to help them with writing a specific grant proposal or application, especially for funders who are approached frequently by your district.  You should meet with these funders in advance and get the “inside” information about the types of projects they are most interested in supporting.  Give this information to your staff prior to the workshop and walk them through the proposal or application step by step, offering specific examples or phrases to use in each section.  This can be a great opportunity to find common projects and encourage your staff to work collaboratively to develop projects involving several teachers or grade levels.

6. I know of some district grant offices that publish a monthly or quarterly newsletter for their staff, either electronically or in print.  If you decide to do this, keep in mind the amount of lead time your staff will need to submit their proposal or application; the more frequently you distribute such a newsletter, the more lead time you can provide.  This internal newsletter also can be used to provide grant writing assistance and to review your district’s policies and procedures related to pursuing grant funding.

Deborah Ward, CFRE, is an independent grant writing consultant.  She welcomes questions at (717) 295-9437  or [email protected].  Republished from E School News, November/’December, 2007.  For subscription information, go to www.eschoolnews.com.