Tips and Suggestions on Applying for Grants
By: Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki, President of SDUCPTA
The thought of applying for a grant can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t applied for one before but a few hours of effort can really pay off to help your school. I have applied for grants on behalf of my PTA Unit as well as on behalf of the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs. I have received some inquiries about how to apply so I would like to share some things to be aware of when applying, especially for grants sponsored by the PTA.
For Grants from the PTA you will need to have the following completed before October
- Fiscal year budget approved by the Association, ideally have a line item for Grants in the Income and Disbursement portion of proposed budget
- Year-end audit adopted by the Association
- Projects are approved by the association – here’s an example motion: With the executive board concurring, I move to approve the programs and the expenses as listed in the PTA Unit 2015-2016 budget
Grant Process in a nutshell:
- Announcement to the community, can be on a website, a rolling grant (meaning there’s no end date to apply) – usually for companies like Target, or through email blasts (such as ones made by Council, District, State, and National PTA)
- Depending on the scope and scale of the grant, there may be an information meeting, these days have been by a webinar, net meeting, or conference call. These are very important to attend as they do disclose key words that you should use in the grant application as well as the idea candidate they are looking for.
- Goals and requirements – the grant application usually discloses what are the key goals of the grant and what requirements that need to be met upon applying as well as if get awarded
- Award of the grant – depending on the sponsor, there may be another information meeting where grantees will learn more about how to be successful at implementing the grant and resources/tools to help be successful (such as press release samples, flyers samples, planning tools, etc.)
- Implementation – one of the biggest challenges I have found, is actually disbursement of funds within the confines of the grant terms. You have to be really clear on the objectives of the grant and what is “allowed” in terms of spending
- Progress report, final report – some grants require a progress report during the terms of the grant (when the project is supposed to happen and when the funds need to be spent by) as well as a final report. This is your chance to shine as well as share the challenges. The sponsors need to know what areas of improvement are needed should they want to make the grant available the next fiscal year
Grant narrative – the grant application itself
Do not sell yourself short, the best thing you can do is be honest, as the application is being used to explain why there is a need at your site for these funds. Also, if you have won a grant before from the same sponsor, there is no harm in applying again, don’t think that because your organization was a previous grantee, that your application won’t be considered, however, you do have to present different ideas. The application is where you are marketing the needs of your site, what experience your organization has had (be it a little or a lot), how the funds will be used, and why you think your organization will be successful. One of the key ingredients I found to help make the application successful is actually meeting with the school site administrator to basically get the buy-in on the project and what ideas he/she may have for the specifics of the project. This is also a great opportunity to involve teachers and/or parents to brainstorm on ideas as one of the key considerations before submitting the grant is having some level of buy-in first (the irony is a lot of the applications may not require it). The application is also going to ask for a proposed budget on the grant itself and you must pay attention to what the grant is for and what is in the application itself. Generally you might have five or six line items but this all depends on the scope and scale of the grant itself.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask the sponsor questions about what is needed in the narrative. Most sponsors are non-profits themselves and they have someone higher up to report to, so it is in their best interest to help the applicants answer the questions correctly.
Good luck and happy grant writing!
Celeste L. Bobryk-Ozaki
San Diego Unified Council of PTAs