Summer is fast approaching, and although the temptation to forget about grants for a month or two is powerfuldon’t do it! There are generally few federal and state grant deadlines during the summer months (government employees often are on vacation during this time), but this doesn’t mean you should forget about grant-seeking. In fact, summer is an excellent time to take stock of the past school year and plan ahead for the upcoming year.
Look at the state and federal grant deadlines during the past school year and make a calendar of potential deadlines for the coming year. Remember that in most cases, long-standing grant programs keep the same proposal application deadlines from year to year. Expect that deadlines will fall roughly in the same week they occurred during the prior year.
Collect copies of the requests for proposals (RFPs) from the past year’s grant competitions. For the most part, you can find these RFPs on the web pages of the specific grant programsor, you can check the Federal Register web site for federal competitions and your state department of education’s web site for the state grant competitions that were held.
After a careful review of the RFPs, choose the grant programs that you feel are a close match to your own district’s projects, and try to determine approximately how much time it will take your district staff to complete the proposals. Then, develop a calendar of proposal due datesas well as the dates you should start putting these proposals together.
Use the summer months to collect boilerplate information from your district that will be useful in completing grant proposals. Compile statistics about student achievement, professional development, integration of technology into the curriculum, and demographic information about your students (for example, the percentage of your students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches is a common statistic asked for in proposals).
In many ways, this year is different from past years with respect to grant programs. There is a transition underway to turn some of the long-standing federal grant programs into block-grant programs administered by your state education department, while other grant programs will meet their demise. If you aren’t familiar with the new Enhancing Education Through Technology program (commonly called E2T2), make sure you understand how this is going to impact your particular school district in terms of funding for technology. (See story, page 22.)
Many states are forecasting reduced funding for technology in the upcoming fiscal year. Is your state one of them? If you don’t know, contact the technology staff in your state department of education and ask them what the state budget might portend for the upcoming school year. While you are talking about the budget, also ask if there are any plans yet for carrying out E2T2 in your state. Ask if they have any idea when the competitive part of the initiative might be expected in your state.
Remember that grants should never be viewed as a “quick” fix to a situation where funding is needed. (As a matter of fact, some of the grant proposals that you write this fall and winter will be for projects expected to begin in school year 2003-2004.) So plan ahead for the technology needs of your district and the projects you have in mind for the 2002-2003 school year, and start determining whichif anystate and federal grants you might want to apply for next year.