If you’ve read my column before, you might already be familiar with an important bit of advice I’ve mentioned in the past: Savvy school grant seekers always keep their “ears to the ground” to discover potential sources of funding before they are announced.

As I’ve stated in many previous columns, the more time you have to plan for the submission of a grant proposal, the greater your chances are of writing a proposal that is both comprehensive and competitive.

There also can be advantages to submitting a proposal for the first funding cycle of a brand-new grant program. For example, the number of proposals submitted might be smaller, because the program is no too well known yet, which results in less competition. In addition, the request for proposals (RFP) might be less complicated, because it’s the first one to be released. After the initial competition, the funder might make changes to the RFP to address issues or problems that came up.

That’s why it’s a good idea to monitor the progress of key pieces of legislation that deal with education funding, so you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to applying–and none are more significant than the pending reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Among the potential grant opportunities that could come out of this legislative process are several new programs proposed under the Kennedy-Enzi draft bill introduced into the Senate in October.

Authored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the draft contains a new grant program under Title II, called the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act (or ATTAIN). This act would “require states to use a portion of their Enhancing Education Through Technology funds to develop challenging academic content and achievement standards to ensure that students are technologically literate by the end of eighth grade.” In addition, it would focus a larger percentage of EETT funds on professional development and would prioritize funding for schools in need of improvement.

Under the proposal, states still would distribute EETT funding to local districts both competitively and by formula, though a larger percentage of the funds would be reserved for the formula approach. Formula grants would be made to improve teaching and learning through the use of technology, and competitive grants would support systemic school reform through technology integration.

The Kennedy-Enzi draft also contains a rewrite of the Math Now program. This program, which is modeled after the Reading First program, supports professional development, remedial math instruction, and the implementation of comprehensive math initiatives that have been shown to be effective. The program would offer competitive grants for elementary and middle schools.

Other new grant programs in the Kennedy-Enzi draft include a Summer Learning Grant program, a High School Improvement Grant program targeted to schools with significant dropout rates, and a Secondary School Innovation Fund that would support innovative school improvement strategies. The draft also includes several already-existing grant programs, including Teaching American History, Math and Science Partnerships, and the National Writing Project.

How can you follow the progress of this legislation and its potential new grant programs? If you aren’t in touch with your local legislator–in this case, your senator–contact this person now and indicate your interest in the NCLB reauthorization process. Ask if there is some type of electronic means of being kept updated. Use this opportunity to discuss the potential impact of the new grant programs, and how your students could benefit from funding in these areas. Read education publications, such as eSchool News–and if these new grant programs come to fruition, you’ll be well prepared to put your proposals together!