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Author Bio: Genein Letford is a music teacher at NEW Academy Canoga Park. She is a finalist for the 2013 PEOPLE Teacher of the Year Award! Voting ends September 5th, 2013. Please show your support and vote © Genein Letford

Please Share!

Grant writing is like the chicken and the egg dilemma. Do you start with a great project idea and no funding source, or begin by identifying a possible funding source to then develop a project to match?

Why not do both?

Brainstorm a list of great ideas and look for funding sources to match. At the same time examine all possible funding sources and see if one of your ideas could be modified to fit their requirements. Here are our best tips!

1. Be Organized – After you visit the website pages listed, bookmark your favorites on your web browser with the due date at the beginning of the bookmark title. This way you can see which grants are coming up soon. Bookmark the grants that you and your school can definitely qualify for (i.e. low income, Title 1, High school, etc.)

2. Be Mindful of the Reader – Some grants have distinguished board members who review them while other grants are read by the plumber next door, (everyday people read Donorschoose grants) so when writing, use terms and language that will be understood by that particular audience. Don’t use teacher lingo (NCLB, IEP, etc) with non-teachers – or at least spell them out.

3. Be Succinct with Official Grants – Most grants that have official reviewers read hundreds to thousands of submitted grants. Submitting a grant is not the time to utilize your creative writing skills and/or phrases. Get to the point and state the need, the project and other responses specifically asked by the grant committee. Do not write flowery colorful statements to state something matter of fact.

4. (DC) Grants – Everyone has his or her own style with DC grants but this is what works for me. Since readers of these grants are everyday people and/or corporations looking to give a lending hand to students in need, you have more wiggle room to connect on an emotional level with your writing. DC requires you to describe student need (basically that school funds are low or students don’t have access to requested materials) while this is an important beginning part of your proposal DON’T go into a four page essay about how your students are disadvantaged. You want to certainly connect to their emotions but the power of your proposal should be in the project and how it will benefit the students (why they need these materials). Most of my proposals are succinct yet still successfully connects the reader to my disadvantaged students. People may not have all day to read proposals and some search for short yet powerful projects to sponsor.

5. Be Realistic with Supply Request – If you’re writing a grant that requires an itemized list of supplies for a project that you have not done before, carefully plan to make sure you will not be short on supplies or have an excess of supplies. Grant reviewers frown upon projects that request too much money for a simple project, so be sure to do your research and explain your need for the requested supplies.

6. Sample Other Past Winning Projects – Numerous grant sites post past winning proposals and projects on their site for public view. Therefore, while you aren’t copying a past winning project, you can be inspired and cognizant of the elements needed to create a winning project.

7. Use Their Key Words – Terms like ‘inner city’, ‘low-income’, and ‘Low SES’ are often used interchangeably when describing the requirements of a grant. Try to use the key words that the grant description uses when describing your student base. If you are trying for the ‘Urban Teacher Award’, use the word ‘urban’ to describe your student’s community (if applicable) instead of another word.

8. Don’t Give Up On the First ‘NO!’ – The first few grants I wrote were not accepted and I had the option of not applying anymore or to “keep on truckin”. Now, five years later, every grant or fellowship I have applied for in the past two years has been accepted. So don’t give up!

9. Keep Submitted Grants and an Updated Resume – If a grant is not accepted with one program, save it to possibly submit to another program if the requirements are acceptable. Many of the teacher fellowships need resumes, so it is imperative to keep your resume up to date. Email me if you would like to see a copy of mine. Also, sign up for grant search engines in order to directly receive grants and fellowship information.

10. Think Outside the Box! – Try to submit projects that are unique and will be a special experience for your students. I received a FEDCO grant to take my students to tour UCLA and study math and architecture by drawing all the geometrical shapes of Royce Hall. They then had to build their own college campus that incorporated mathematical and geometrical skills acquired on the UCLA field trip. Unique and never done before!

Last Words: Your students deserve the best and you deserve to be able to give them the best. During these hard economic times, don’t become discouraged because funds are low but become tenacious in finding different ways to make things happen. Be proactive and diligent and it will pay off for you and your class. Feel free to email me with any questions or clarifications. I can email this document to you so you can easily cut and paste the web addresses in your browser. Thank you and WRITE ON! God bless!

Websites and Resources


  1. Grant Writing Tips:
  2. Teachers Count (Grant Search Engine)
  3. Grant Wrangler Search Engine:


  2. BIG LOTS (Need to submit a short video)
  3. Best Buy Technology Grants:
  4. Nike Michael Jordan Grant for Middle and High Schools:
  5. Kids in Need Grants:
  6. Great American Classroom Makeover:
  7. FEDCO LA County Teacher Grants:
  8. HP Technology Teacher Grants:
  9. ASM Science Grant K-12:
  10. 2011 Realize Science Technology Grant For Agriculture In the Classroom:
  11. The NEA Foundation:
  12. Staples Grants:
  13. National Endowment for the Arts:
  14. Literacy Grant (CA, NY, NV):
  15. ING Unsung Heroes Awards Program:
  16. ING Run For Something Better:
  17. Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers:
  18. Fender Music Grants:
  19. Mr. Holland Opus Music Grants:
  20. Target Field Trip Grants:
  21. Target Arts/Early Reading Grants (Opens March 1st!!):
  22. Lowe’s Building Grant:


(Travel during the summer to learn!)

  1. Murdock-Thompson: Summer Fellowship for Innovative Teachers:
  2. Horace Mann Abraham Lincoln Fellowship:
  3. National Endowment for Humanities (NEH):
  4. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History:
  5. Fund for Teachers:
  6. Science Summer Opportunities:
  7. FulBright-Hays Seminar Abroad:
  8. Earthwatch Teacher and Student Fellowships:
  9. Goethe-Institute USA: Transatlantic Outreach Program to Germany:
  10. Asia in the Classroom Seminar:
  11. Korean Teaching Fellowship:
  12. National Consortium for Teaching About Asia:
  13. Dar Al Islam Teacher Institute:

Teaching Awards
(Win money for you and your school for being a GREAT teacher!!)

  1. PEOPLE Teacher of the Year Award:
  2. Sontag Prize Fellowship for Urban Teachers:
  3. ASCD Outstanding Young Educator Award:
  4. National Science Teachers Assoc Award:
  5. National Assoc for Gifted Children: Harry Passow Classroom Teacher Scholarship Award K-12:
  6. National History Teacher of the Year Award:
  7. Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Program:
  8. Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching:


…and so much more! Google them!
The money and opportunities are out there…now go GET THEM!