School Wellness Learning Forum
Your School Wellness Policy: The Next Step
Fourth in Series: Grant Writing for School Wellness
April 24, 2012
Download a PDF of these proceedings: Partnership Grant Writing for School Wellness Learning Forum.
Bonnie Tavares, Director, EOHHS Center for Staff Development
Bonnie has many years' experience reviewing grant proposals. She gave concrete advice for writing successful proposals.
- First, do a lot of homework. Be sure the entity you are requesting funds from matches the project you're proposing. Finding a grantor that is interested in funding the kind of initiative that you're looking for funding for is crucial.
- Have someone other than the lead preparer read the grant, in part to be sure the responses actually answer the questions. It's easy to get caught up in our enthusiasm for the project and get off track.
- Include measurable outcomes. This is a very important issue. For example, "improving the health of our middle school students" is a noble cause but it's not measureable. You need quantitative, measurable tools to measure success. The goal doesn't have to be dramatic change in the first year; it could be 5%. But you must include how the change will be measured. You could use testing or a health analysis, etc.
- Consider the evaluation form for grant applications seriously. This shows the priorities of the grantor; the number of points for each question tells you how the grant review committee will evaluate and score proposals.
Kathy Hassey, Director, School Health Institute, Northeastern University
As a successful grant writer, Kathy built on Bonnie's advice to offer useful suggestions.
- Do a good needs assessment. What do your students or school need? Include health, mental health, nutrition, etc.
- Know what your goal is and make sure it aligns with the grantor.
- Consider applying for smaller State grants.
- To find State grants, use the Commonwealth Procurement and Solicitation System: http://www.comm-pass.com.
- Consult the Bidders Conference for each grant.
- Use data from Massachusetts Community Information Profile (MassCHIP): http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/researcher/community-health/masschip/
- Look for organizations and companies in your area such as CVS, Walgreen's, Lahey Clinic, etc. Find grant opportunities on their websites.
- Keep a grants folder because applications often have similar forms and questions.
- Have a sustainability plan. How will you keep the program going after the grant funds end?
- Communicate with parents, local leaders, and school committees when writing a grant proposal.
- Northeastern University offers an online Grant Writing for School Nurses program. Sign up on their website (see Online Programs in lower right column of homepage): neushi.org.
Karen Jarvis-Vance, Director, Health Services, Health Education and Safety, Northampton Public Schools
Karen has written successful large and small grant proposals and serves as a grant reviewer for several committees. She confirmed Bonnie's and Kathy's advice and gave more helpful tips.
- Know who your funder is and exactly what they're looking for. Look at what they're funding to be sure your project matches.
- Pay attention to the weight of questions, how many points are given in the proposal evaluation process.
- Tell your story. Explain exactly what your need is, why you have that need, how these funds will help, and how you'll measure the progress.
- To become a better grant writer, serve as a grant reviewer for local minigrants. You'll learn what a well written proposal looks like.
- Have other eyes on your work, if only for grammar. Don't write in isolation, even for a small grant. Send out first, second, and final drafts. Choose people who have written successful proposals.
- While needing to have others involved, be aware that group writing is difficult. Have one leader.
- Be prepared for a lot of paper. Especially with large grants, the number of forms and the length of your responses can be overwhelming. Ask for help.
- Keep copies of everything - for your records and because forms tend to be repeated for other grants.
In addition to the information above, these websites may be helpful:
Additional advice offered:
- Be sure administrators including your superintendent support a grant you want to pursue. Send them a final copy of your narrative.
- Notify in advance everyone who will need to sign off on the proposal to coordinate with their schedules. Take it to them (with a blue pen if that's what is required).
- Take deadlines seriously.
- Get the scoring sheet in advance to help focus your energies during the writing process. Notice what they're looking for in each category.
- Consider companies that you might not think are aligned with your need and call them - they might have partnerships within the community.
- Put a story in the local newspaper after you've been awarded a grant - this helps encourage funders. For example, it's good publicity for supermarkets.
- Leverage small gifts to apply for larger grants.
- Be aware that large Federal grants often require matching funds, which can be difficult to procure.
- Consider sustainability from Day 1. For example, a sustainability plan will be required at five-year reapplication for a ten-year grant. Include the human capital and other funding resources that will be needed to continue the activities beyond the grant funding period.
- You don't need to always ask the funder to fund the whole program. Carve out something that they are likely to fund and show that they will be part of a larger effort. This gives the grantee an opportunity to prove their worth to the funder and increase future prospects.