When I was in elementary school chorus, I remember singing a song called “No Man Is An Island.” In my opinion, this should be a theme song for grant writing.
Many of the best-written proposals are a team effort, and it shows when you read them. Let’s look at the people who can, and probably should, be involved in the grantsmanship process.
I know many grant writers in education make the mistake of designing projects and writing proposals without consulting the two groups that are usually impacted the moststudents and teachers. When was the last time you asked students to participate in the project development process to find out what they think they need in terms of their education, or to identify potential weaknesses in your curriculum and/or the teaching methods your district uses?
Often, students are incredible resources for creative and new ideas. You are missing a great opportunity if you are not asking students to take an active role in developing projects.
Are you also asking teachers for their ideas on how to improve teaching methods, how to integrate technology into the curriculum, and what teachers need in terms of professional development? In all fairness, if your project contains a professional development componentor if you are expecting teachers to carry out the project’s activitiesyou should involve teachers in the planning stages and ask for their input as you put together your proposal.
Find out from teachers what kind of time constraints they’re under in terms of scheduling training. Would they consider training after school or on Saturdays? What would motivate them to participate in training? Would your teachers participate in online training while they are at home? What changes would they like to implement into the curriculum? You won’t know the answers to these questions unless you go directly to the participating teachers and ask them!
If the proposal you are working on requires you to address community involvement, ask parents and other community members for their input. Don’t assume that you know what’s best for them.
Invite a group of parents to meet and discuss the project and ask them for their suggestions. We all recognize the important role that parents play in their children’s education. Asking parents for their suggestions could be the first step your district takes to establish new relationships with parents who have not been involved to this point.
Reaching out to community members for their input can also be the first step in developing collaborative relationships that might result in future funding and/or benefits for your students and teachers. We keep reading about how important it is for the community to take an active role in the education of our studentsthe “it takes a whole village to raise a child” concept.
Asking community members to take part in the proposal development process can be a great way to introduce them to your district and to get them interested and more involved. Who knows, maybe you’ll receive additional support from local businesses or other organizations!
You should also involve your business manager in the proposal development process. It is critical that he or she review your budget before the proposal is submitted. It’s also a good idea to give the information in the RFP (request for proposal) concerning audits, expense reports, and payment schedules to the business office so that staff know what to expect when the grant is awarded.
Involving the project evaluator in the proposal process can also be beneficial. Including this person will allow him or her to determine what types of evaluation tools would be most appropriate, what types of tools might need to be designed, and how to conduct various parts of the evaluation process while involving stakeholders.
Consider asking a school board member to be a part of the grant writing process, too. I find that, while school board members are supportive of staff pursuing grants, they often lack an understanding of the entire grantsmanship process. Having a school board member take part in the process can be an important educational experience for this person that might, in fact, generate the support you need to establish a grant writing staff position for your district! n