Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thinking Grants for Educators in a Tight Ecomony

The Big Money is Going Away

A wise person once said, “Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

In today’s economy with serious budget cuts the order of the day, corporate and foundation donors are tightening their belts, laying off employees and not making as many grants. They have also pared down the size of those grants they will still fund. The big money is going away. Schools and school systems that were getting grants are watching them disappear.

So, it just makes sense to “watch the pennies” and go for the small grants – the grants that are “classroom” grants, usually designed for one teacher/one project. These are grants that are too small for a grants consultant. And, most schools don’t have the luxury of a person dedicated to writing grants. Some larger school systems have a single grant writer whose job is to write grant applications for the system as a whole. So, getting school-based, classroom-level grants is really up to you – teachers on the front lines. A number of small grants will add up to big bucks for a single school. And “the dollars will take care of themselves.”

That’s why it is important look for suitable grants and apply … apply … apply.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Another wise statement that applies to the grantseeking process.

If you have followed all the guidelines and met all the requirements for a grant application, but you are turned down – don’t despair. It’s not personal. Get in touch with the program officer, thank them for considering your application and ask for a review. Ask how you can improve the grant application so that it will be competitive and may be re-submitted. Ask how soon it can be re-submitted. Often a grant application has to be submitted more than once – maybe two or three times – before it is funded.

Have you gotten your complimentary subscription to eSchool News yet? It is a good, free source of grant opportunities.

All for one and one for all!

Send me your questions and comments, please. What else do you want to know from me? Share what you have discovered out there on the grantseeking front. What you know will make each of us a stronger, more successful grantseeker. And that’s a good thing!

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator at Georgia Public Broadcasting and a Member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plan for Success in Grants for Educators


Make a Plan and Start Early

Have you ever wished for “just one more day” or “just one more week” or “just one more month” to complete a project? Doesn’t everyone? Then, give yourself a whole year!

Throughout 2009, when you see a grant program that piques your interest, put the due date on a 2010 calendar. A month-by-month calendar for 2010 is easily made and saved on your computer. Most grants come around again and again. And, generally, they are due each year at about the same time. However, grant application availability usually is announced only 30 – 60 days in advance of the due date. This is a tough timetable for a busy teacher.

By putting a tentative due date on a 2010 calendar you have time to think through and plan your grant request. You also have time to involve other teachers and organizations, as well as obtain letters of support. Remember that grantmakers particularly like the leverage their funding by having several entities benefit from one grant.

The key to making this plan work is to be disciplined enough to create – and meet – some intermediate deadlines. For example, set an intermediate deadline for

(1) selecting an appropriate project and gaining approval to move forward;

(2) then, set another one for meeting with potential partners;

(3) set another one for outlining the information required by your grant application (and listing sources for the information); and

(4) an intermediate deadline for drafting and requesting letters of support.

Finally, be sure to have an intermediate deadline for completing a draft of your application – especially the application narrative, the budget and the budget narrative. This intermediate deadline should be set about 3 – 4 weeks before the tentative due date on your 2010 calendar. This gives you plenty of time to edit it and tweak it into perfection. More importantly, it gives you some wiggle room when the real 2010 deadline is announced.

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a Member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Build a Solid Foundation for Grants Success


Timing is Everything!

When writing a grant, timing is everything! Deadlines are firm. Approvals must be obtained. Mailing time must be considered. And, always, always it is important to be ready to mail or submit online about a week in advance of the firm deadline. This allows for the fact that Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will.) may come into play, as well.

So, how can you gain critical minutes as the clock is ticking down? By building a solid foundation of pre-approvals, collaboration possibilities and up-to-date information! Here’s how:

1. Make sure that your principal and your department chair are on board with your project and the grant you are seeking to fund it. Creating a “one-pager” of bullet points for your principal and your department chair will not only enable you to gain their approval, it will also give you a starting outline of all the points you must make in the grant application. Most important, it avoids a delay when you are ready to submit your grant application.

2. Once you have those necessary approvals, e-mail the same one-pager to all of the faculty in your department or in your school, depending upon the scope and topic of the grant. This written communication lets them know what you are working on. It will prevent two teachers from the same school from going after the same grant at the same time. When you send the one-pager, also ask if the recipients have anything to add and/or if this project lends itself to a possible collaboration. Grantmakers love the leveraging effect that comes from collaboration! And you gain time by dividing the workload with one or two other people.

3. Create and maintain current, descriptive boilerplate about your organization. Boilerplate is a unit of writing that can be used over and over without change. A mission statement is an example of boilerplate. A 3-or-4 sentence statement describing your organization is boilerplate. You and your colleagues may find yourselves answering the same questions or saying the same things over and over. That is also boilerplate! If your school has a central hard drive with files that may be shared by all faculty and staff, put your boilerplate – and updates as they occur – on the shared drive. More minutes saved as you simply copy [CTRL-A]-and-paste [CTRL-V]!

4. Another area where you can save yourself critical time when minutes count is by maintaining a current

electronic file of information about your school. Information for this file includes:

· a scanned copy of your school’s IRS Letter of Determination for the 501 (c) (3) status

· a scanned copy of most recent audited financials

· current budget

· listing of past and current financial donors, including dollar amounts

· listing of past and current in-kind donors, including dollar value

· socio-economic statistics on your school (i.e., % of students by race and sex; % of students receiving

free-or-reduced lunch; etc)

5. Finally, remember to keep your lists of “Bragging Rights” updated and filed by year. Here are a few examples:

· list of student academic achievements (i.e., number or % of National Merit Scholars; standardized test scores; college acceptances, etc)

· list of faculty/staff achievements (i.e., school system teacher of the year, etc)

· list of institutional achievements (i. e., Georgia School of Excellence; National School of Excellence; etc)

Ask your principal to assign one person – possibly the school secretary or the media specialist -- the responsibility of keeping all of this information up-to-date and accessible electronically. Creating it initially may be time-consuming, so this may be a good volunteer project. Or, perhaps your PTA will be willing to pay a stipend to a faculty or staff member to work on this “after-hours”. But, it will

be worth its weight in gold (literally!).

You won’t need to use all of this information every time you complete a grant. But, when you do need it … when time is tight … when the stakes are high … you will be glad you have laid the foundation and have everything you need right at your fingertips!

Sandy Spruill is Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and Member, American Association of Grants Professionals. This article was first published in the blog for the GPB T.I.E. Network.

Help from the Federal Government on Grants for Educators


Grant Help from the Feds-
Your Tax Dollars at Work!

The Compassion Capital Fund, managed by the Office of Community Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families – Whew! That was a mouthful! – is offering a very valuable toolkit online. I checked today (January 22, 2009) to be sure it was still available and it is.

Take a look at the wealth of information being offered. There is quite a lot. You won’t need to know all of it, but there is so much that will yield helpful nuggets of information. My recommendation is to save everything to a Grantseeking – Grantwriting Information file on your computer or on a flash drive. Not only will this save paper, toner/ink and trees, you will also find it very quick and easy to search using Microsoft Word’s “Find” feature or Windows’ “Search” feature. To search a PDF document, look on the toolbar for the binoculars icon with the word “Search” next to them.

Another helpful service provided by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services is, your source to find and apply for federal government grants. This initiative is having an unparalleled positive impact on the grants community. A new service of is a blog that provides up-to-the-minute information on the status of the website and other help. also offers Succeed, a free news-filled quarterly newsletter.

If you tried previously, but could not download and install PureEdge, the software required to submit and/or view an application, you will be glad to know that as of January 1, 2009, uses only Adobe Reader. Check here to determine and download – free! – the version of Adobe Reader that works best.

Speaking of applications, do take the time to read through one or more successful grant proposals. Annotate as you read – highlighting and noting which parts of the proposal are particularly helpful to a reader-evaluator who may not be intimately familiar with the topic. These are the items you will want to be sure to include in your grant application.

Four Words: Education World Grants Newsletter

Have you subscribed yet? It’s free! It’s fabulous!

Sandy Spruill is the Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a Member of the American Association of Grants Professionals

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Ten Education Issues to Watch in 2009

3rd Annual Media Symposium:
An Inside Look At Education In Georgia

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) hosted a symposium to announce their list of Top Ten Issues for educators, policy makers, business leaders and other stakeholders to watch in 2009. Invited guests included members of the media who report on these issue and are interested in other research based information and trends that impact Georgia's schools.

Individual speakers and panels provided an inside look at Education in Georgia at a time when the new state legislature is convening, administrators are facing challenging budgets and a new federal administration is launching education priorities and policies that will be felt on a state and local level.

If you could not attend the Symposium held at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on January 16, 2009, the following links will let you examine the issues:

GPEE Media Symposium 2009 - Part 1
Opening Remarks from GPEE: Diane Hopkins, Vice President & Bill Maddox, Communications Director
Top 10 Issues to Watch in 2009: Susan Walker, Policy and Research Director, GPEE
The View from the Top: Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

GPEE Media Symposium 2009 - Part 2
The State of Education Funding in Georgia: Herb Garrett, Georgia Schools Superintendents Association
School Board Governance -- The Impact of Local Boards: Mark Elgart, President, AdvanceED

GPEE Media Symposium 2009 - Part 3
Round Table Discussion Among Reporters: Dana Tofig, Director of Communications, Georgia Department of Education

GPEE Media Symposium 2009 - Part 4
What's Next for Georgia's Public Schools? Upcoming Policy & Legislation Panel Discussion:
Moderator Gerard Robinson, Black Alliance for Educational Options
Andrew Broy, Associate State Superintendent, Georgia Department of Education
Senator Eric Johnson, (R-District 1), Chair, Ethics Committee; former President Pro Tempore, Georgia State Senate

College, Yes You Can Day

Georgia Student Finance Commission to Host Resource Day at the Capitol

The details are available in an announcement from the Georgia Student Finance Commission. As the website states, GSFC is the state agency that provides financial aid to help Georgia Students realize their higher education dreams.

Every year many students are discouraged from continuing their education because paying for it seems impossible. On Monday, January 26, the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) is hosting College, Yes You Can Day at the Capitol to promote higher education and a variety of options available to plan, apply and pay for college.

The main goal of College, Yes You Can Day is to have students walk away from the event with great advice and direction on every aspect of pursuing higher education. During the event, students will get "hands-on" knowledge of how to apply for college admissions and financial aid.

In addition, several computer stations will be available for career exploration, the creation of individual My411 accounts, which allow them and their families to research, compare and select a Georgia college and/or university, view their grade point average for determining HOPE eligibility and much more. There will also be presentations from a high school counselor, a college administrator, a financial aid officer and remarks from Georgia's Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

The event is free of charge and open to the public. High school and college students, counselors and educators are invited to attend.

WHAT: College, Yes You Can Day at the Capitol

WHO: Georgia Student Finance Commission, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, Representatives from Georgia Association of Student Finance Administrators and Path2College 529 Plan.

WHERE: Georgia State Capitol

206 Washington Street, South Wing

Atlanta, GA 30334

About the Georgia Student Finance Commission

The Georgia Student Finance Commission is a state agency that connects Georgians to the resources and services they need to plan for and fun education beyond high school. We are the largest source for college funding with the State of Georgia, and for over 40 years have provided billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and education loans to more than 2.5 million Georgia Students.


Monet N. Robinson, Communications Specialist

Georgia Student Finance Commission


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Road Trip Episode

New Episode Available for Students & Educators from this Award Winning Series

The producers of Road Trip, the award winning program with the tag line “staying in school is worth the ride” have completed episode #10 of the 12 episode series. It is now available on GPB broadcast schedules and on the web for streaming.

In this new episode, two girls apply for an entry-level job at a hospital whose strict policy requires employees to have a high school diploma or GED. Featured Road Trips include:

Northwestern Technical College’s Occupational Therapy and Electronics Technology programs

Atlanta Technical College’s Emergency Medical Technician and Cosmetology programs

Gwinnett Technical College’s Dental Assistant and Construction programs

Created by the Technical College System of Georgia in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting and in association with the national Stay-in-School initiative, Road Trip is now an official hit in the world of educational programs and is among winners that represent the best work in the industry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

'09 Grants Opportunites for Schools & Classrooms


Grants Available to Schools & Classrooms in the New Year

Happy New Year to all!

Do you ever feel like life is one big Monopoly game? When I was growing up, my family played Monopoly on New Year’s Eve to usher in the New Year. It is still something I like to do – maybe more appropriate than ever considering that the Monopoly we know was created in the depths of the Great Depression! The best thing about January 1 and the new year – just like passing “Go!” on the Monopoly board – is the chance for new opportunities.

For example, there are many grants opportunities for schools and classrooms. If you have not already done so, I urge you to go to . This online website has 12 free newsletters you can sign up for. Newsletter # 12 is the grants newsletter . If you are serious about getting grants for your school and/or your classroom, you will find the contents of this free newsletter to be extremely helpful and valuable. Of course, you won’t be eligible for every grant opportunity mentioned. But, you will be able to tell pretty quickly which grants are available to you.

A very helpful resource mentioned in this first newsletter of 2009 is a treasure trove of successful grant applications. These will help you better understand what grantmakers are looking for.

Also helpful is Don Peek ’s column in every issue of the newsletter.

The economy may be tanking, but there are still grants available. Make a New Year’s resolution right now to begin applying for school and classroom grants. The more grants you apply for the better you will get – and the more money you will get!

Sandy Spruill is Grants Administrator for Georgia Public Broadcasting and a member of the American Association of Grants Professionals.

Webcast: Improving the Graduation Rate


Strategic Planning to Improve the
Graduation Rate

presented by

Ms. Deb Dillon
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
3:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

*Learn where to start to raise your school's graduation rate.

*Find out about Systemic Renewal and how one school system has used this process of planning and continuous review of results to help keep kids in school.

The Fargo Public Schools, Fargo, ND, never suffered from the severely low graduation rates experienced in some areas of the country. However, in the upper Midwest, with an exceptional work ethic and high value placed on education, an 83% graduation rate was considered unacceptable. In 2003, the Fargo Schools contracted with the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University to conduct a Program Assessment and Review (PAR). PAR is a systemic assessment and planning process to assist schools and school districts to plan solutions for keeping students in school and improving graduation rates. The PAR provided the school district with ten recommendations, and the district has been building on those suggestions, bringing the graduation rate up to 90%. Deb Dillon, Fargo Public Schools Director of Alternative Programs, has been coordinating these efforts, and she will share the process the district has used.

Supplementary materials are now available online. All necessary information about participating fully in this professional development opportunity is found on the website. For further questions, contact the National Dropout Prevention Center or call 864.656.2580.

Participation in this webcast is free and no registration is required. The program will be archived in its entirety on the website. On the day of the webcast, link to the broadcast. If you have trouble with the link, copy and paste the entire address listed below into your web browser:,P1,F063CEFD-2B16-4933-9440-BC7ACFDCF044