How to Write Successful Teacher Grant Applications

There are so many grants for educators that it is really a shame so few teachers apply for them. Some colleagues told me they don't have time, while others said that it was too complicated. The ones that had applied often said that they hadn't been awarded the grants, so they didn't want to try again.

How to Write Successful Teacher Grant Applications - Read about five proven strategies used by a teacher winner of numerous grants at local, state, and national levels!

During my teaching career I wrote many grant applications and won numerous grants for educators at local, state, and national levels, including a Fulbright Memorial Fund grant. When submitting a grant application, following a few simple steps will improve your application.

1. Check & Double Check the Rules

This sounds silly, but you have to make sure that you meet the qualifications for the grant and that you can fulfill any requirements. There are a few sure-fire ways to have your application eliminated.

  • Apply for one without meeting the requirements.

Some grants are specifically for new teachers, while others might be for teachers in a certain area. There are so many grants available, keep looking to you find one that fits your teaching situation.

  • Not submit all parts of the application.

If it asks for a principal reference or a teacher recommendation, be sure to check off all pieces of the application before sending. When I applied for National Board certification, I forgot to rewind my video to the beginning - and it almost cost me the certification. Double and triple check your application.

  • Missing deadlines.

A late application is a denied application. Period.

2. Author's Purpose

Remember way back when you told your students to consider why an author wrote an article? Use that same idea and apply it to the grant you want to win. Someone established that grant for a reason - and you need to understand why.

Think of it like this: if you were given a large amount of money to establish a grant fund, what would you do? Why? Personally, I would establish a grant to help fund teacher training on dyslexia and other sensory disorders, because we struggle to have my son identified. As I received applications, I would be looking for teachers who also share my goals of training more educators in identifying and helping students with these problems. Once I narrowed down the applications to the ones I liked best, I would next look for who would have the most impact on my goal. Teacher A wants training for their own classroom. Teacher B plans to train other teachers in her district. The winner would be pretty easy - Teacher B most aligns with my goal for establishing the grant.

TIP: Before you begin your application, research the person or organization that founded the grant. What are their long-term goals? How can your project help them further that goal? If you can figure that out and make that clear in your application, you will have a much better chance at being selected.

3. Audience

Yes, I sound a lot like English 101, but the next tip is to remember your audience when you write your application. From helping fellow teachers, I have the impression that many people believe they need to use impressive language. Trust me, you don't.

What you do need to accomplish is making sure that your plan is clear to whomever is judging your application. If you are applying for a teacher travel grant, the readers may not be teachers. Be sure to explain any teacher language in your application. If you use any teacher acronyms, explain them. These vary widely from district to district, and your reader will probably not understand them.

At the same time, write to a professional. You are speaking to another educated adult, so don't write as if you are speaking to students. At the same time, be careful to keep a professional and friendly tone to your writing. You don't want to send the wrong impression to the reader. It's a lot like social media - the original intent can easily be lost in written words.

TIP: To be sure your application has the right tone, ask someone in education to read it and someone outside the field. I usually asked my teammate, my teacher brother, and my mom.
How to Write Successful Teacher Grant Applications - Read about five proven strategies used by a teacher winner of numerous grants at local, state, and national levels!

4. Details, Details, Details

In grant applications, details count. Applications have limited words, so make them count. An application that has a specific plan for how they will use the grant will always be ranked higher than one that isn't. For example, if you write that you need $50 for books, it sounds like you really haven't thought out what you want to do. On the other hand, a list of specific titles with prices and a short description of how you will use those books sounds like you have a plan that can be implemented!

Another way to check your details is to go back and look at what you are asked to explain. In some applications, I was asked how I would use the money in my classroom. A few of the travel grants not only wanted to know how I would apply my travels to my own classroom, but also how I would also involve the community and other teachers. Be sure to explain in detail how your plan would meet each part of their question.

TIP: Skip the fluff. It is perfectly fine not to reach the word limit. Never pad your application with unnecessary words just to increase your word count. Remember that the readers are going through a lot of grant applications - you want yours to stand out. Writing a specific plan, with detailed supplies, educational standards, and time lines for implementation will be remembered much longer than one that has a lot of extra unnecessary information.

5. Edit & Revise

You want to be taken seriously as an educator. If you submit an application full of spelling and grammatical errors, you may not be considered if other applicants seem more professional. Some grants are more competitive than others. Because of that, you want your application to be flawless. Everyone applying wants to win - so make sure your application is your very best effort.

TIP: Not everyone is a natural writer. If you know this is not an area of strength, ask someone to read it for you. If you plan ahead and give the editor time, most people will gladly help.

Good grant writing is really just good writing. Remember to consider the organization's purpose for the grant, the audience of your application, and to make your application error free. Double and triple check the rule, then submit your application!

If you are not picked, don't give up! Many grants receive far more applications than they can fulfill. Your application may have been fantastic - they just might have had a lot of excellent applications. Have someone read your application and give you feedback, make any necessary changes, and try again next year.

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If you win any grants, I would love to know!

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