Top Tips to Get that Grant

Use these helpful tips from the NEA Foundation to develop an effective grant proposal.

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by NEA Member Benefits

If you’ve ever thought about trying for a grant for your classroom and thought “Nah—I can’t do that...” think again. There are thousands of grants out there just waiting for someone to apply for them. Taking that first step is the hardest. With help from the NEA Foundation, we’ve gathered tips to help you get that grant.

How do I get started?

Start with an idea that you’re passionate about. According Jesse Graytock, Grants Manager at the NEA Foundation, “Have an idea going in. Don’t look at this from the perspective of asking for money, but for getting support for an idea that’s beneficial to your students.”

Graytock also suggests asking yourself these questions: “Why do I want a grant?”, “What are my long term project goals?” and “What am I looking to accomplish?” When you can clearly and articulately answer these questions, you’re ready to start the application process.

Need some inspiration? Read about grantees and check out what educators are doing in your area.

Where can I find grants that support my idea?

There are literally thousands of grants out there. The NEA Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, are just a few places to search. You can also look to local area non-profits, government agencies and corporations.

Graytock suggests conducting research on Regional Associations of Grant makers (RAGs) and donor forums ( “By being on this website, you have already proven that you are savvy in using the internet to identify grants available to public school educators. Keep an open mind and be sure to look at any possible funders, including private, corporate and government funding sources.”

How do I find the time?

Understand going in that grants just take time. Allow time for writing, rewriting, proofreading, budget creation and signature gathering. Expect delays and allow plenty of time for each step of the process. If possible, apply for a grant as a group of educators and split up the various tasks.

Understanding that educators are short on time, the NEA Foundation has streamlined the process for their grants and put everything online in a format that’s easy to use. There’s even a wriiting tutorial to help you get started.

Where can I get support?

Network with fellow educators who have gone through the grant process. Enlist as much help as you can—friends can proofread, check your budget numbers, etc.

There is a lot of information online to help you with the grant process. Edutopia and the NEA Foundation are just a few sites that provide tips, instructions and guidance for educators.

Lastly, some tips for writing your application

The NEA Foundation has several tips for getting that grant.

1. Think big and think creatively. Take risks, be original, and go beyond the adoption of a published curriculum. Don't be afraid to try something new. Do not ask for grant funds for district, state, or federal mandates. Student Achievement Grants are your opportunity to experiment with ideas that you and your colleagues believe will improve student achievement!

2. Read and follow the guidelines. Many applications cannot be considered for funding because they do not comply with the guidelines. Common problems include:

  • The narrative indicates that expenditures would precede receipt of the grant (that is, the grant would be spent before it is awarded)
  • The application only contains data information for the lead applicant (partner data is missing)
  • An ineligible person (for example, a principal) is listed as the lead or partner applicant.

3. Identify clear, specific learning objectives and activities. Ask someone not involved in the project to read the application, and clarify any confusing and vague language. Avoid acronyms and jargon. Reviewers will not recommend funding if they do not understand the project. Obtaining equipment and supplies should not be the main objective of the proposal but a means of reaching clearly stated student-learning goals.

No matter what your need—a program that’s short on funds or a dream project you’ve tucked away—start developing your plan today!