Top 5 Tips for Identifying Good Fit Grants
One of the most critical aspects of pursuing a federal grant is making sure that it is a good fit for your local education agency (LEA) prior to exerting resources on the application process. While the prospect of large funding amounts makes federal grant seeking an exciting endeavor, it is important to review the following details before your school district commits to pursuing opportunity.
- Is your LEA an eligible entity? Is there a specific partner required to be eligible? If yes, can your LEA form that partnership to pursue the grant? If your organizational type is not on the list of eligible entities or you cannot form the appropriate partnership in a timely manner, you can usually stop here.
2. Funding Priorities
- What is the agency looking to fund? Is the agency prioritizing specific areas, special populations, or interventions? If so, can you meet these priorities? Often, an agency will make certain priorities mandatory or ‘absolute’, while other priorities are ‘competitive preference’ which will garner an applicant extra points. It is important to consider your LEAs ability to meet these priorities before pursuing a grant as they are often dealbreakers in agency funding decisions.
3. Required Activities
- What activities are you required to do with the funding? The grant notice will contain both required activities and allowable activities. Required activities are the activities that every grant project MUST implement. If your LEA is unable to execute all required activities or unable to form a partnership with an organization that can complete the required activities (if allowable) then your LEA will not be funded. It is important to ascertain your LEAs capacity to adhere to all required elements of the grant as anything less will constitute noncompliance.
4. Allowable Activities
- Assuming you can implement all required activities, are there other non-required activities that are critical to your proposed project? For example, if construction is needed for your project to be fully implemented, you will need to ensure that construction is an allowable activity under the grant guidance.
5. Other Requirements and Logistics
- Other requirements and logistics to consider include grant deadlines, award amounts, match/cost-share requirements, and the number of awards. You will want to confirm within your LEA that the due date is feasible for your prospective project team and partners. Secondly, you will want to consult with your finance team that the award amount and matching/cost-share requirements (if applicable) are within the LEAs expectations and means. Lastly, it is important to consider the number of awards in deciding to pursue a grant opportunity. As grants require significant time and effort to complete, it is most strategic to apply to opportunities where there are greater chances for success.