SmartMusic and the Grant Writer (Part 1 of 2)

Through a grant, the teachers at Josiah Bartlett Elementary School (K-8) were able to purchase SmartMusic subscriptions for all of their students – as well as several laptop computers and other technology. The grant was written by Jimi Emery, who has been an educator and technology coordinator at Josiah Bartlett Elementary School for over 15 years.

I recently visited Bartlett, NH, to provide a training session for teachers and students who were starting to use SmartMusic for the first time. I asked Jimi if she would be willing to share her experience with you about writing grants and she graciously accepted.

BG: What do you think is the most important aspect in writing a grant?

JE: I think the most important thing I can share is to write the grant to answer the questions asked. This sounds simple, but it becomes very difficult to “stay on task.” Whenever we write grants we actually write the questions into our response.

Many grants will ask you to specify your needs, which may be quite difficult. They want to know ‘why’ you feel you should get the grant. If you can say, “The data we’ve provided suggests that with your support we will reach our stated goals,” you usually have a better chance of being selected. We use data from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), NECAP, LoTi, and in-house assessments.

BG: What kind of preparation is needed in writing a grant proposal?

JE: We do a LOT of research in the areas we are writing to-hours and hours. We want to show how our proposal can be successful because research supports that possibility. In the last grant, we researched each product: interactive whiteboards, Flip video cameras, 1:1 computing, software, laptops, etc.

We also scour the web – always looking for the possibilities. We need to be creative and weave our needs to their requirements. Look outside of the box; try to see things in a new way. We have also received grants from technology companies, the NEA, arts programs, local charities, and others.

BG: Are others involved in the process?

JE: We like to begin with an introduction that lets the reviewers know us as a school and a group of people. We have strong community, parent, teacher, and student backing. We make sure that becomes known.

We invite all groups in our school to provide content and feedback, which puts a “whole picture” image to our write-up. It shows we are all vested in the success of the program.

For our last grant, we included letters of support from students (isn’t that what it’s all about?), parents, administration, and school board. This shows a total commitment from the educational community.

Next week we’ll continue our interview with Jimi.

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