Here’s how a grant specialist says you’ll know your campus is grant-seeking ready and how to make your technology grant proposal stand out from the rest.
As schools, school districts and higher education institutions continue to implement additional campus safety measures, more grants are now offering to fund technology-based initiatives.
At Campus Safety Conference East this August, Ashley Shultz and Elizabeth Evans, two grants development consultants from Grants Office, LLC, presented on grant opportunities that support campus safety technology at K-12 and higher education entities. The duo also discussed examples of previously funded projects and tips for writing a successful technology grant proposal.
We had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with Schultz to further pick her brain on how to make technology grant proposals stand out from the rest (see video above).
But first, Schultz addressed the importance of making sure your campus is grant-seeking ready before taking the next steps to write a proposal.
“It’s very important to remember that grant-seeking takes a village, so involving everyone early on in the process is definitely a great first step to being grant ready,” she recommends. “Get local law enforcement, get your first responders, get anyone from the district or from the higher education institution that needs to be sitting at the table. They can provide that valuable input you may be forgetting.”
Next, Schultz says, be sure to gather grant identification numbers and documents, such as organization charts and leadership charts. That way, if the grant asks for it as an attachment, it’s ready to go.
“There are several state and federal grants that require identification numbers. They’re free, they’re very easy to access, but they do take a couple of weeks,” she adds. “So if you have those all ready to go, you won’t be panicking at the last minute.”
Lastly, involve technology vendors in the process to make sure all of the pieces that make the solution work are included and pricing is identified.
“The grant funders want to want to know, down to the penny, how well you’ll be spending your money,” says Schultz. “The vendor will be able to tell you exactly what kind of quotes you can be looking for, how much money you should ask for, and they’ll make sure you’re not forgetting anything.”
Make Your Technology Grant Proposal Stand Out
Although more school safety grants are becoming available, the demand often exceeds the available supply.
For instance, during the Summer 2018 pilot round of the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) offered through the Department of Justice’s STOP School Violence Act, only 45% of the more than 200 grant applications that were submitted were funded. The race for the 2019 grant cycle is expected to be even more fierce.
To give your application a boost to the top of the pile, Schultz recommends three basic steps: following directions, sharing your proposal with an outsider and starting as early as possible.
This may seem like an obvious one, but grant funders are going to tell you precisely what they want to see in your application, from how many pages and exactly what questions you should answer, down to the font size.
Think of it as if you are looking through job applications for a new position. Would you hire an English teacher or professor if they had glaring grammatical errors in their job application? Would you hire a Title IX coordinator if they didn’t include a cover letter as it was clearly requested in the application directions? Grant reviewers are just like the rest of us.
“If you’ve got 300 applications to read and you can take away 20 of them because they didn’t use Times New Roman 12 point font, that’s 20 fewer applications you have to read,” Schultz says. “Be sure that you are reading the directions at all times and are aware of what’s being expected of you because your application could be kicked out if you do not follow some of those specifications.”
SHARE PROPOSAL WITH AN OUTSIDER
If you have time before the deadline, be sure to share your technology grant proposal with someone not affiliated with your campus — a neighbor, a friend, a family member.
“Sometimes if you’re so involved in the grant process, you can lose the forest through the trees. They’ll be able to show you exactly where you should explain a little bit better or highlight a particular point because it was confusing to them,” says Schultz.
Their feedback will be similar to that of a grant funder since they too are outside of your organization.
“If it’s confusing to them, it’s probably going to be confusing to the grant funder.”
Since it is important to have all stakeholders at the table, it is extremely beneficial to get your team assembled as early as possible. Most of those who are involved in writing grant proposals also have significant daily duties at schools or universities. Giving ample notice helps each individual plan accordingly with their own schedule.
Starting early will also give you more time to make any revisions that may come about during stakeholder discussions.
For more information on campus technology grants, check out this article’s video where Ashley addresses:
- The justification of technology equipment in a grant budget
- The types of technologies that are and aren’t fundable with grants
- Advantages and disadvantages of applying for a grant alongside law enforcement
If you have any questions or are looking for more information on a specific grant, visit grantsoffice.com. You can also shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call at 877-476-8457.
Also, if you find yourself overwhelmed with vendor options, you can download “How to Evaluate Competing Technology.” It includes an empirically verifiable evaluative framework to help you choose between equally attractive technologies.