Savvy grant seekers and proposal writers know that preparation and the proper use of available resources are two keys to success in securing grant funds. Now, there’s a new tool at your disposal: your state’s consolidated application for federal education funding. The consolidated state application is an incredible source of information that will assist you with developing future projects and identifying funding sources from your state department of education.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) gave states the opportunity to submit a consolidated application to obtain funds under many federal programs through a single application, rather than through separate applications for each program. According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), all 50 states have chosen to take advantage of this time-saving process this year.

The May 22 Federal Register notice spelled out what states must do to file a consolidated application. According to the notice, each state must adopt five overall “performance goals” that cut across all NCLB programs. These are: (1) All students will reach high standards by 2013-14, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts and mathematics; (2) All limited English proficient students will become proficient in English and will reach high standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts and mathematics; (3) All students will be taught by highly qualified teachers by 2005-06; (4) All students will be educated in learning environments that are safe, drug free, and conducive to learning; and (5) All students will graduate from high school. Each consolidated state application has four principal components: (1) elements constituting the foundation for a core system of accountability and baseline data; (2) a description of the key strategies the state will use to implement its NCLB programs to accomplish the program purposes; (3) key programmatic and fiscal information needed by ED before 2002 awards can be made; and (4) assurances that the state will adhere to all of the requirements of all programs.

In simpler terms, the consolidated state application includes information about how the state is going to help its local education agencies assure that teachers are “highly qualified,” how the state will determine which schools are meeting and/or exceeding performance standards, the process that the state will use to distribute formula (or entitlement) and discretionary grants, and how the state will coordinate all of the various programs to reach common goals. (For a copy of the consolidated application form, see the No Child Left Behind web site.)

All of this information is critical as districts plan ahead for their pursuit of federal education funding passed on through their state education department. I recently downloaded the “state activities” section of Pennsylvania’s consolidated application and found an enormous amount of helpful information for district proposal writers. In this section alone, the following information about NCLB programs in Pennsylvania is available: (1) selection criteria; (2) planned timelines for application and grant award processes; (3) a description of the review process for programs; and (4) goals and objectives that are tied to state standards and student achievement.

Proposal writers can use this information for project development purposes, to design a grants calendar, to design goals and objectives that align with those of the state, and to determine the eligibility status of their district for specific NCLB programs.

In light of the value of this information, I would highly recommend that you visit your state education department’s web site and download your state’s consolidated application. If it isn’t there, contact the federal programs office in your state education department and request a copy.


No Child Left Behind web site