Educators are frequently on the alert for grant opportunities and funding sources to support instructional materials, programs, professional learning, or other essential needs. These tips will help you in your quest to find a grant source.

Define the Need

Identify and clearly describe the specific need that exists for seeking funds to support a project. A needs assessment used to make this decision should be referenced in your grant application. You can use your school’s improvement plan to gather this information and provide supporting evidence. Consider conducting an additional assessment that is even more applicable. Being able to describe the existing problem and the accompanying solution is essential. You must know and clearly communicate the need that exists to be able to seek and qualify for grant funding. When the need is well supported by evidence (e.g., statistics, trends), the quality of the needs assessment increases.

Taking the guesswork out of the equation for the grant reviewers eliminates any speculation about the overall need for the grant. From a grant reviewer’s perspective, the study and planning that results in a clearly defined need indicates a project that will likely be effectively implemented and achieve positive outcomes. The need provides the foundation and serves as the underlying thread that weaves together the project’s goal, objectives, implementation activities, and evaluation.

Search for Grant Funding Sources

After you determine the specific need, the search for possible grant opportunities can begin. Numerous grants are available to support the educational needs of schools (e.g., instructional materials, specific programs, professional learning, innovative learning and teaching approaches). As a grant applicant, your responsibility is to locate the grant opportunity that appropriately fits the needs of your district, school, or classroom. The availability of a grant does not mean it is the right grant for you to choose and apply.

You can select from a wide range of government funding options, ranging from district, state, and national. There are alternative funding sources such as community partnerships and DonorsChoose.org that directly connect donors to projects.

Select the Right Grant

Take a deeper dive and read beyond the advertised information. Educational grants can have similar, yet different requirements. Sometimes, applicants only qualify for funding if their school population has a high percentage of children from low-income families. Occasionally, grant applications are limited to proposals for specific regions or states. The focus can also vary. There are those targeting a specific content area, others requiring a partnership between community organizations and schools. Some support instructional technology, while others offer innovative opportunities for increasing student achievement or center on teacher improvement. Grant seekers should be cautious of the requirements in their search for available grant funding and choose wisely.

If the grant is a mismatch to the school’s well-defined need, it is a waste of valuable resources (time and people) to complete an application. Ensure that the stated need in your application falls directly within the stated purpose of the grant.


Co-Authored by Sandra Love, Ed.D. and Marian Rainwater

Educator Resources Managing Editor, Sandra Love, Ed.D., develops practical resources for teachers and principals to help them impact students and build thinking-centered learning environments. A recipient of the National Distinguished Principal Award, Dr. Love spent 37 years in public education both as a teacher and principal, where she gained experience at the elementary, middle school, and higher education levels. She has authored numerous articles and develops educational resources on critical thinking and instructional strategies.

Until her recent retirement from Mentoring Minds, Marian Rainwater led the team of math writers in developing research-based materials that make a positive difference in the lives of teachers and their students. Over the course of a 29-year career in public education, Marian impacted students at the classroom level as a teacher and at the district level as the director of K-12 curriculum and instruction.