There are many Federal and state grants for school safety software. Most of these grant programs are open once a year and require a considerable amount of research and planning to submit a successful application. These grants are also highly competitive, and funders usually receive far more applications than the amount of money available.
Writing a persuasive application does not have to be overwhelming. Below are some best practices to help you write and submit a stronger application.
1) Pay Close Attention to the Directions
The most common reason grants are rejected is because the applicant failed to follow the instructions in the Request for Funding Proposal (RFP), which some grants refer to as a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) or the Program Guidance document.
Think about it this way: when a funding source receives hundreds of applications, but they can only award 10%, they will look for reasons to easily deny an application to save them from having to read every single submission. If you use the wrong font size or forget to include a required document, this error gives the funding source a legitimate reason to reject your submission without even having to read your application.
When you are reviewing the grant requirements, best practices are to print out a hard copy of the RFP and the application, then read line-by-line and highlight the critical details. Some details to pay close attention to include:
- Due dates?
- How the source will receive applications (e.g., do you need to register in an online system?)
- Contact person and the deadline to ask questions
- Formatting and page limitations
- Required attachments and signed forms
Create a check list or use one provided by the funding source to confirm your submission meets 100% of the requirements.
It’s just as critical to keep your application within the scope of the grant. You can be disqualified if you attempt to include programs or technology that are outside of the allowable expenses.
2) Write Towards the Selection Criteria
Funding sources use selection criteria to score and evaluate the quality of your application, so it’s important to keep these criteria in mind when writing. Each RFP document will list the specific criteria and scoring. The most common criteria revolve around:
- How well your proposed project is developed and how you will manage the project
- The severity of the issue you are hoping to address with the funding money
- How the project will specifically address the issue and what impact it will have on your school or district
- The qualifications of your staff who will carry out the project and if you have the resources to ensure the project is successful
It’s best practice to structure your answers according to the selection criteria, unless the formatting requirements say otherwise. This makes it easier for reviewers to evaluate your proposal.
3) Have An Outsider Read Your Grant
When you work on a grant application for days, weeks, or even months, it can be challenging to take a step back and determine if your application is persuasive enough to fund your next school safety purchase.
An outsider, such as a staff member in another department or a personal friend, will have a fresh set of eyes when they review your application just like the person at the grant office. Your reviewer, after reading your application, should be able to tell you exactly what the grant is for, how your district plans to use the money, and why being awarded will significantly impact your school safety programs. They should also provide feedback if your answers are confusing or too general. Grant funders want detailed answers and to know exactly how you will spend the awarded money and how the money will impact your school safety.
Learn More Strategies from the Funding Doctor
Raptor has partnered with Dr. Paula Love, also known as the Funding Doctor, to help districts navigate grant funding applications. Learn more about grant writing, especially for COVID-19 ARP ESSER grants, in our on-demand webinar: 5 Funding Strategies for Protecting Your School.
Raptor provides integrated visitor, volunteer, and emergency management software that is an allowable expense in many school safety grants, including the COPS SVPP grant and each of the ESSER funds.