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guide to getting grantsWhen it comes to bringing in money for your PTO/PTA, it doesn't get much better than a grant.

Grants are funds given for specific causes or projects that do not need to be paid back. These monetary awards are given out based on merit, need, or simply meeting the qualifications. 

But, as great as they are, grants take work to get! Which is why we've put together this go-to guide to help you learn about grants and get tips for applying in 2018.

Very few of us would say no to a big gift of money, but there's a lot of us who can get intimidated by lengthy application forms or hung up when faced with the challenge of putting into words the answer to the question: "why should we give you this lovely sum of cash?"

But before we get into how to apply for grants, let's make sure we understand the difference between grants and fundraisers. 

Go for the Grant? Or, Raise the $$ Yourself?

Grants and fundraisers are not the same thing and your PTO should go over a few questions to decide which option is best for your budgetary needs:

  • Is this money going toward a specific project/purpose? If so, grants are a great way to go, if not, then you should stick to fundraising so you can use the money in whatever capacity is needed.
  • Do you need the money sooner rather than later? Grants can take anywhere from a few months up to a year to process, review and make a final decision (local grants may be the exception here, so keep your eye out for those opportunities!). Fundraising, on the other hand, can begin whenever you decide and can be completed in the course of a few months.
  • Have you ever applied for a grant before? If the answer is no, that's ok (& you're reading the right blog!), but having someone with experience in grant writing or filling out applications for grants will really help throughout the process. Fundraisers are more DIY-friendly since you set the goals and standards from the very start and don't have to adhere to external guidelines. 

Tips for Applying

All grants are different. Different awards, different deadlines, different purposes and different requirements for applying. Some will require filling out an application, others will require a written proposal, and some ask for a portfolio of past projects to prove that you deserve this monetary gift! Here are some tips to get you movin' in the right direction!

  1. Don't just meet the deadline, beat it: Getting started early will allow you and your team to really brainstorm on the important aspects of the application: how to define your group, why you need the money (beyond the surface level reasons – get to the core of the issue), and what aspects to highlight in your application... which brings us to #2!
  2. Find shared interests: A huge part of getting grants is to find organizations that align with your interests/focus and to communicate those shared interests in your application. If you need to get money for classroom supplies and you've found an organization that gives out grants for educational purposes, then your application needs to communicate the deeper importance of equipping our educators with the tools they need to be effective. The same goes for health/wellness programs, the arts, and other areas that need funding.
  3. Get your team together: Ideally, your team for getting grants (whether that's your regular PTO group or a group made from teachers, faculty & PTO members) should consist of people who are knowledgeable about the project that needs funding, a leader to coordinate the team and make sure the deadline(s) is met, and a strong writer to put your ideas onto paper!
  4. Answer the core questions: Your team should have concrete answers to the following questions – 1) What is the purpose of your project? 2) How, specifically, will you use the money (where will it be allocated)? 3) If you are not funded, what are other creative ways you will pursue your project (to show you are committed to the task at hand and won't abandon ship if the funding doesn't come through)? 4) Who will benefit from this grant (students, community members, teachers, etc.)? 5) How will you report how you've spent the money (pictures, video, testimonies, etc.)?
  5. Read the fine print: An important step when you have finished the application or proposal is that you are careful to adhere to the details. This means more than reviewing for grammar and spelling errors. Most grants have specific ways in which they want applications turned in, so make sure you know whether they want it mailed in an 8 1/2 x 11 envelope, emailed in a zipped file, arranged in a certain order (cover letter first, contact page second, etc.), and that each portion of the application is filled out and proofread. 
  6. Research additional grants: Basically, don't put all your eggs in one basket. The application process might be tenous but it's important to continually be researching for grants that align with your interests and can provide you with the funding needed to meet your goals!

Grant Opportunities in 2018

Below are listed just some of the available grants for 2018 (and beyond!). We picked out the grants that align with the interests of The Get Movin' Crew: healthy kids and successful schools! 

These are just a few options to check out, but we encourage you to connect with your chamber of commerce to identify local companies and organizations that give out grants.

Action for Healthy Kids: Breakfast, Physical Activity, & Parents for Healthy Kids Grants

Action for Healthy Kids provides three different grants. The first is a grant that will help your schools provide breakfast programs! The second, called Game On, is all about physical activity, which provides funding for facilities and equipment to make sure kids can have access to recess, playgrounds/play-spaces, classroom energizers, physical education, intramural and/or before/after-school programs. Lastly, the Parents for Healthy Kids grant is specifically for parents or parent groups to implement physical activity and nutrition initiatives!

Applications are being accepted through April 8th, 2018 - get more information!

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grant

Have a project that needs funding? Well the Lowe's Toolbox for Education might be the perfect solution! Lowe's will be donating up to $5 million to public schools and PTO groups around the country, and you could win up to $5,000 for your project in just minutes by applying. 

Fall 2018 applications will be open starting August 6th - get more information!

Crayola Creative Leadership Grants

Crayola will be giving up to 20 grants to help inspire educators to increase art-infused education within elementary/middle schools. The winner will receive $2,500 and $1,000 worth of Crayola products to help make education fun and creative! 

2018 applications are being accepted through June 22nd (note, your school principal must be a member of NAESP to apply) - get more information!

AAE Foundation Classroom Grant Funding

The Assocation of American Educators awards classroom grants for a variety of projects and materials, including books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. These grants are available for up to $500 and could provide your teachers with a chance to bring needed materials into the classroom! 

The Spring 2018 deadline is March 1st - get more information!

Justin J. Watt Foundation - Funding for After-School Programs

The Justing J. Watt Foundation provides funding for after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children to become involved in athletics. Rather than give you the funds to distribute, the JJW Foundation will actually foot the bill for your equipment, uniforms, gear, etc. needed for your athletic program!

2018 funding request applications are reviewed monthly except for June, July and December - get more information!

Presidential Youth Fitness Grant

The National Fitness Foundation will provide an annual opportunity for schools and school districts nationwide to receive funding for virtual and in-person trainings; supporting texts; assessment equipment; and, atudent recognition items. Schools may request up to $1,000 in resources to jump start their school fitness program. Make sure your PE teacher/coach is involved in this one if you apply!

Applications accepted until March 2nd (note: a School Health Index must be completed before the application is submitted) - get more information!

The Stepping Stone Grants

The Stepping Stone grants provide support for teacher-initiated projects that foster the arts and address all learners through creativity. These grants have a max of $450 and can equip your teacher(s) with the money to bring creative learning into your school!

Applications are being accepted through April 30th - get more information!

Kinder Morgan's Foundation Grant

The Kinder Morgan Foundation provides grants for programs that benefit youth in grades K-12. Grant awards range from $1,000 to $5,000 and are geared toward helping today's science, math and music students become the engineers, educators and musicians who will support our diverse communities for many years to come!

2018 deadlines are the 10th of every other month beginning in January - get more information!

Jan Harp Domene Diversity and Inclusion Award

This award recognizes PTAs that best demonstrate outstanding achievement in the areas of diversity and inclusion, as well as efforts to end discriminatory practices. The award will be presented to one state PTA, one district/council/region PTA and one local PTA at the 2018 Annual National PTA Convention and Expo, June 21 – 24, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. Winners will receive $1,000 and many awards/recognitions within National PTA.

Applications acceptions through March 31st - get more information!

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