Grant Writing 101

In the past 2 years, I have written grant proposals and received four grants. To put this in perspective, I have only been working for three years and have received nearly $4,000 in grant awards.

I can’t say how often I have heard teachers say, “Well, I just don’t have time to write a grant.” My rebuttal is that spending an extra hour to save you from using your own money to purchase materials is worth it. Spending an extra hour for improving your students’ access to learning is worth it. Spending an extra hour to make a lot less work for yourself down the road is worth it.

Why YOU should write a grant proposal.
If you are reading my blog, chances are you are a speech language pathologist. Guess what – if you are, you write reports all the time. Your writing skills were honed in grad school and you know how to support your goals with evidence. This is what grant committees look for.

What to include: Numbers
Think of a project that will reach as many students as possible. Committees like to see how many students a proposal will affect, so include a hard number or range. When I wrote a grant for social skills materials, I included how other special education teachers would have access to the materials, increasing how many students it would affect. When I wrote a technology grant for iPads, I included not only the students targeted for the specific project, but also stated how all students on my caseload could benefit from having access to an iPad for speech/language sessions.

What to include: Evidence
To me as a speech language pathologist, this seems like a no-brainer. In grad school, supporting everything with evidence was drilled into me. It is always important to explain what is missing from your current program to help students succeed. If you are applying for materials, make sure to include how you are lacking materials or forced to utilize less than desirable conditions and activities to teach. When explaining student deficits, I like to site examples from actual research studies, or at least explain the reason my students are unsuccessful. Believe it or not, grant committee members may not know that much about Autism spectrum disorders, language deficits, or developmental delays. Make sure to include a few statements explaining the disorder of students you plan help with this project.

What to include: Concrete examples
You know your students best. In what situations with speech/language, social skill, learning, attention, etc. deficits affected them within the classroom? Providing a concrete example of a student is one way to help the committee relate to your project and see how it will affect student learning (keep confidentiality a priority of course). If you do not receive funding for your project, how will your students be affected?

Final Advice
Writing a grant can be scary. I know that each time I submit a proposal, I worry that I might not receive the funding. Having a strong grant proposal helps, but sometimes it simply comes down to the amount of money requested or other grants that have an impact on more students. Sometimes grant committees look for evidence that their money will go far with a particular application, so make sure you explain how the funding can be used for many students and perhaps a long time.

Imagine what the person on the grant committee who DOESN'T want to fund this proposal might be thinking and adjust your writing to address that. If you don’t receive funding, the great news is that you now have a proposal that you can tweak and revamp to use for another grant application!

Do you have a supportive team or parents who go above and beyond for you? Ask them to proof read your proposal; it will save you time and spark ideas in them as well.

So get writing! Your future self will thank you, I promise.