All Articles Education Voice of the Educator Writing grants to fund educational projects and innovation

Writing grants to fund educational projects and innovation

Writing grants requires plenty of preparation and attention to detail, but it can yield dividends for classrooms, PD and other projects.

7 min read

EducationVoice of the Educator

Yellow-shirted adult at a table holding a pencil and another holding a pen over paperwork on a clipboard for article on writing grants.

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As an educator, have you ever wished that you had funding to start a special project, improve resources beyond what is available through the yearly school budget, or fund a professional learning project? As a public school educator of 35 years, I have run into these situations several times and found a solution: writing and receiving educational grants.

Donna Spangler educators writing grants

Over the years, I have written six grants and received funding for five. Most recently, I received funding from a Learning & Leadership NEA Grant for a project called “Seeing Our Teaching through Our Students’ Eyes” for the 2022-23 school year. This project built an online collaborative learning community of teachers sharing classroom videos and asynchronous discussions, supported vertical articulation work, and enhanced coaching cycles using an online coaching and collaboration platform. 

Using video to share teaching practices with other educators positively impacted students’ learning experience and outcomes by promoting collaboration and sharing of best practices, enhancing teacher development, promoting teacher accountability, increasing focus on student learning and providing ongoing professional development opportunities. Using video as an instructional coach allowed teachers to track their progress and growth as educators, identify trends in teaching practices, set goals for improvement and monitor their progress toward their goals. Here is a 90-second overview of the project.

While it is never guaranteed that you will get the grant funding when you apply, you can take steps to increase the chance for your application or request for proposal to be accepted and find suitable funding.

How to remedy common pitfalls in writing grants

  1. Pitfall: Poor alignment between grant and funding source
    • Remedy: The grant must align with the grantor’s and applicant’s mission and values. You need to develop your grant funding search skills and verify the match, because failure to align decreases the chances of securing funding.
  • Pitfall: Lack of clarity on the purpose and goals of the grant
    • Remedy: It is essential that the purpose and goals of the grant are clear and specific. Vague or overly broad language can confuse the grantor and weaken the application.
  • Pitfall: Weak argument or insufficient research
    • Remedy: You must state your purpose and case for need by building a strong argument. Typically, the person who tells the most compelling story will usually get the grant. You also want to cite the authoritative source(s). The proposal must deeply understand the target audience and the educational environment. Research should identify gaps in the current educational system, demonstrate the need for the proposed project and explain how it will meet those needs.
  • Pitfall: Failing to address evaluation and impact 
    • Remedy: The grantor wants to see evidence that the project is likely to have a measurable impact on the target audience. To do that, the proposal must include a plan for evaluating the project’s effectiveness and demonstrating its impact with measurable outcomes or mileposts. Think of a grant as a partnership. They’re investing in your vision of a better community. How will you add value to their money? How will you further their goals?
  • Pitfall: Having a vague plan with inadequate details
    • Remedy: The proposal must include a detailed execution and implementation plan. The plan must include timelines, major tasks, budget, staffing and resources needed to achieve the project’s goals. 
  • Pitfall: Lack of sustainability
    • Remedy: The grantor will want to see that the project can be sustained beyond the grant time frame. A proposal that lacks a plan for continued funding or resources to maintain the project is less likely to receive funding.
  •  Pitfall: Deviating from the grant guidelines or poor writing
    • Remedy: It is important to follow the application instructions exactly as they are written. Remember that a poorly written proposal can undermine even the strongest ideas.
      • Submit on time or early.
      • Use the format (email, PDF, printed document) and number of copies required.
      • Keep the narrative to the length stated in the guidelines.
      • Be sure fonts, margins and spacing are adequate.
      • Include any required budgets, prices, signatures and certifications. 
      • If they provide you with review criteria (i.e., a rubric or checklist), use it, as grant reviewers may use those criteria to score your proposal for possible funding.
      • Use clear, concise language; avoid jargon; and proofread carefully. No error is too small to correct.
      • Root out inconsistencies in format, typos, misspellings, grammar, etc.

Where can I find grant funding?

Teachers can apply for grants from many places to use in their schools, classrooms or professional learning, depending on specific needs and goals. First, start with your own school or district, which may have a list of available grants or resources. 

Next, look online for state and federal, foundation and corporate, or even company or local grants to fund educational projects. Also, if you belong to educational associations, they may fund grants, so it is important to check those out.

Here are 10 places to start:

  1. is a central location for finding and applying for federal grants. This website lists all current federal grant opportunities, including those in the field of education.
  2. DonorsChoose is a nonprofit organization that helps teachers fund classroom projects and initiatives. Teachers can create project proposals, and donors can choose which projects to fund. DonorsChoose also offers professional development grants for teachers.
  3. The NEA Learning & Leading Grants, from The NEA Foundation, offers a variety of grants for educators, including grants for professional development, for classroom projects and for instructional coaches.
  4. GetEdFunding is a curated collection of thousands of grants and awards that grows by the day, created by educational professionals for educational professionals.
  5. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides grants for educational initiatives to improve student outcomes and support teacher development.
  6. The Fund for Teachers offers grants to support self-designed professional development opportunities. Teachers can apply for grants to fund travel, courses or other activities that will enhance their teaching skills and benefit their students.
  7. The National Science Foundation offers grants for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education initiatives, as well as grants for teacher professional development in these areas.
  8. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics offers grants for classroom resources, professional development and action research projects that focus on improving mathematics education.
  9. The Big List of K-12 Educational Grants for Teachers from WeAreTeachers has links to more than 30 grants.
  10. Inspiration for Instruction offers links to classroom grants and scholarships (some national and in the Oklahoma area, but similar organizations in other states could also have similar opportunities).

Remember that while writing a grant proposal can be challenging, it can be worthwhile. Grants can provide valuable classroom or professional development resources and help you achieve your teaching goals. With expanded opportunities and resources, teachers can provide better educational experiences for their students, develop new skills or knowledge, and keep their classrooms current. Good luck with your first (of many) grant funding search for your projects!


Donna Spangler is the K-12 instructional coach department chair for Derry Township School District in Hershey, Pa. She served as past co-president of the board for the Learning Forward PA, ran a school induction and mentoring program for six years and has co-authored a book. She also provides virtual coaching for Sibme.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 



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