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Knowledge | 4 min read

The Third Option… Grants

Date published: December 9, 2020

In a perfect world, every academic program would have full funding, and no one would have to juggle to stay under budget. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and universities and colleges are beholden to a bottom line. While trying to remain under budget, upgrades and enhancements that could benefit students and staff often fall to the wayside.

With the ever-changing environment, staying on top of enhancements and technologies is key to staying nimble and providing the best for your students and staff. But how do you juggle the choice between staying under budget and providing new technology?

By adding a third option… Grants.

Many schools within colleges and universities use grants to supplement their budget and open up new opportunities to benefit their programs and students. Grants can be used for a plethora of enhancements, such as new technologies or to launch entirely new programs.

But for those who haven’t dipped their toes into the grant-seeking pool, it can be intimidating. We’re not going to sugar coat it and say, “it’s a breeze.” But that shouldn’t dissuade you from taking advantage of these opportunities to help you and your students.

We reached out to our partners who’ve had success with endowments and pulled together some tips to help you get started with finding and securing grants.

Finding Grants
Grants come in all shapes, sizes, and sources, which might seem overwhelming. If you take a step back and break it down into sources, it’s a little easier to manage.

State School Grants: Many state school systems have internal grants to benefit programs throughout their network. These opportunities are shared through the colleges. They are announced internally, so keep your eyes open for these throughout the appropriate channels within your school.

State school grants are the best jumping-off point for finding funding since you’re only competing with other schools within your state system.

Federal Grants: Various organizations within the federal government offers grants that can be utilized by higher education to create or strengthen programs. They usually post these grants through online resources. Many also allow you to apply through those online resources.

Some federal departments that offer grants that can benefit healthcare education programs are:

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

U.S. Department of Education

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

U.S. Department of Labor

Because Federal Grants have a large pool of applicants, receiving an award through a federal organization is more challenging, but this shouldn’t discourage you from trying. Later on, we’ll discuss why putting the time and effort into federal grants might pay off, even if you aren’t accepted for the endowment.

Private/Independent Grants: Grants from private and non-governmental organizations are another excellent resource for colleges. Since these endowments can literally come from anywhere, they may take some extra work to search out. The best way to start is to find an online grant repository to aid in your search.

Some examples of private grants are:

Presidential Innovation Fellows Foundation (PIFF)

Johnson and Johnson

Gates Foundation

Writing Grants
Grant writing is hard.

There are many moving pieces involved with writing a grant proposal. There are even whole classes teaching grant writing and certifications that can be obtained. If you’ve never written a grant before, we advise not just “winging it.”

The absolute best option is to find someone who has experience writing grants. The experience can come from either a co-worker, someone within your greater organization, or if you have the money, a professional grant writer. Having an experienced grant writer decreases the chances of making a mistake. They should know the nuances that turn an “okay” grant application into a “great” grant application.

If you’re not able to tap into the knowledge of a grant writer, then you should, at the very least, take a course or get a grant writing book. We cannot stress enough that having foreknowledge before writing grant proposals can be the difference between rejection and acceptance. Unfortunately, writing a grant is not easy, but rest assured, putting the work into your first grant has an added benefit…

Repackage, Repackage, Repackage
After you put in the time to make the perfect grant proposal, you don’t have to scrap it with the next attempt. You repackage. Once you have the bones of a good grant proposal, you can use it as the basis for many, many more grants.

We suggest that once you have formulated your idea and perfected the pitch, go after many grants throughout the three categories we talked about above. Ensure that you’re diversifying your choices by choosing some smaller foundations, middle-sized foundations, and large foundations. You may have a better chance of winning an endowment from a smaller foundation, but it might come with less money, while the opposite is true for a larger foundation. Hedge your bets by not limiting your applications, but make sure the grants you’re going for are appropriate.

And with each new application, make sure that you follow the guidelines for each specific grant. No two grants are exactly the same, and they have their own requirements and nuances. Take the bones of your great idea and adjust it to meet the guidelines and audience.

Writing a grant application isn’t easy, and with many other organizations also competing for grants, it may seem hopeless. Still, with persistence and some elbow grease, you work towards no longer having to choose what fits in your budget and what doesn’t.

 

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