Summer is fast approaching, and the grants race will slow just a bit. Now is a good time to do some preparatory work to get ready for next year’s grant seeking, grant writing, and grants management.

Some grants you’ve already secured may run out as the school year ends, so be sure to submit all final fiscal and programmatic reports on time. Many funders will not send the final payment until these reports are submitted. You also want to make sure your grants are closed out in a timely and efficient manner, so funders will be left with a positive impression of your grants management skills.

Speaking of grants management, now is a good time to review your internal structure, policies, and paperwork for managing grants. Carefully review any problems that arose during the past school year, and address them now by improving procedures and/or making structural changes. This might include developing new forms and bookkeeping procedures to streamline the process.

Many state and federal grants do not have deadlines during June, July, and August. However, be warned that September, October, and November probably will be busy months, with many deadlines. Use the down time during the summer to decide which grants your district might want to pursue in the fall, and start collecting requests for proposals (RFPs) from last year’s competition to see what material you’ll need to collect in order to apply. I would recommend starting to write proposals for these grants during the summer.

Use the summer to review and update the statistical and demographic information you have on your student population, too. Make sure you have the most recent data available for proposals that will be submitted during next school year, preferably data from the 2000-01 school year. Update your student aid ratios, poverty levels, graduation rates, and dropout rates, just to name a few items.

You should also update the information you have on your community. Verify your county population, the number of employers your county has, and information about your community’s access to technology. By reviewing last year’s RFPs from grant programs you might apply for in the coming year, you should be able to compile a list of all of the statistics you will need to know about your geographic area–and you can start collecting this data during the summer.

This is also a good time to develop some boilerplate material for your district, based on the data you collect. You can write a few brief descriptive paragraphs about your district, your students and teachers, and your community that you can keep on file and use for proposals during the coming year. It will save time in the months ahead to be able to cut and paste this information into proposals!

Try to schedule visits with program staff during the summer months, too. This is a less hectic time for many of them, so it’s a good time to pay a visit to discuss grant programs that you are interested in applying for next year.

Last, but certainly not least, when was the last time you pulled out your district’s technology plan? Is it time for a revision? This might be the perfect time to do it. Remember, your proposed projects will be strengthened when there is a direct tie to your technology plan.

eSN Online: Funding Center