Many educators and school system administrators find that outside funding, in the form of grants, gives them the opportunity to plan additional educational experiences for their students or have more classroom materials than the budget would allow. Even a few hundred extra dollars can buy something special for class learning. Although dollars are becoming more competitive, by correctly following the grant guidelines and approaching the right donors, you can increase your success for funding.

Look the gaps in education or materials. How much more could you do with your science class if you were able to purchase that new piece of equipment? How more real would history become, if the students could conduct a simulation of the times? How many more students could be involved with the learning process if you could buy that computer software package? Your object in a grant is to sell your need. If you cannot present a good reason for having your application accepted, your grant will not be accepted.

Get permission from your administrator, be it the principal, superintendent or board of education. In many of these grants, especially those for government funding, you need a signature of approval. This is especially true for larger amounts of money. Also, each school system can only ask for a certain amount of state and federal funding.

Write a very detailed plan of how you expect to use the funding. Include the individuals be served, the program specifics, how it will impact education and what need it fills. State whether this is a one-time request, or if this expense will be recurring yearly and how you will measure the program's degree of success.

Investigate local government agencies, community associations, local, state and national educational and civic organizations, and businesses for possible sources of funding. There are many education-related businesses, U.S. Department of Education, and philanthropic organization grants and funding. See which one fits your plan best. Which organization most closely compares with your objectives and goals? See how earlier grants compare to yours in focus.

Watch out for making the common mistake of not following the guidelines perfectly. Many grants are thrown out, because they do not provide the correct information, are too general and do not match the grant's theme, do not arrive in time or are written poorly and with mistakes. Have several people work on the grant, so that it can be carefully proofread against the criteria. Call and let the organization know that you are applying. They will often give you some additional tips on the best way to present the information.