Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best source for grant money?

    There is no one best source. To be successful, look to all sources for funding, i.e., government, individual, corporate, and foundation sources.

    What types of grants are available to schools?

    There are federal grants, state grants, private foundation grants, and corporate grants. The primary source of grant funding for schools is federal funding through a variety of Title I programs.

    What is a competitive grant?

    These grants require schools to submit applications or proposals to obtain funding. Awards of funds are based on the merits of the proposal and the compliance of the proposal with the grant criteria. In a competitive grant the organization or agency often releases a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for applications (RFA). Eligible schools typically have 30 to 90 days to complete an application and submit it for funding. Applications are reviewed by a team of experts and scored. The top-scoring applications receive funding.

    What is a competitive subgrant?

    Several federal programs direct states to make competitive subgrant opportunities available, with the funding coming to the state. States manage the federal money and schools and districts apply to the state through a competitive process to receive funding. Reading First and Comprehensive School Reform are two federal programs that support competitive state sub-grant programs.

    What is a noncompetitive grant?

    Often called "formula" or "entitlement" funding, this money is allocated on the basis of the type of student population. Districts still have to apply for this funding and show the requisite need in order to receive funds. They are notified of their allocations for various programs on an annual basis. Example: Title I-A

    How much money can my school get from a grant?

    Grant awards vary according to the particular program and funding agency or organization. Community foundations may provide grants of several hundred dollars, while federal grants may be in excess of a million dollars. Grants are not a means to fast money. The time period from application to award can be as much as nine months. And there is no guarantee that an award will be made. Every grant program has its own unique focus to address a particular need. From year to year funding amounts and program requirements are subject to change.

    What are indirect costs vs. direct costs?

    Direct costs are those costs (salaries, fringe benefits, contracted services, travel, etc.) that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other educational activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.

    Facility and Administrative (F&A) costs, formally called indirect costs, are those that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity, or any other school activity. These costs are allocated to the direct activities through the use of the indirect cost rate. Examples of indirect costs are operation and maintenance costs, depreciation expenses, utilities, and various administrative costs.

    We will not be able to get our application to your office by the deadline date. Can we turn it in late?

    Time constraints do not permit us to accept late applications. All applications are due in our office by 5 PM on the deadline date. If the deadline date falls on a weekend or state holiday, your application is due by 5 PM the next business day. In order to meet data input, printing, and state review deadlines, we must have your application by the due date. We have also added second deadlines for many programs to accommodate such problems. Please call the grant manager or a grant coordinator for more information.

    Is it possible to get your staff to help me with my application?

    Yes.

    How do I calculate payroll benefits?

    You may go to the HISD Budget Department template and enter your data into that form.

    Where can I find information about current federal grants that are available?

    Competitive or discretionary grants are made by dozens of federal government departments and agencies to states, local governments, institutions of higher learning, nonprofit organizations, and other entities. Projects ranging from environmental protection to education, from social services to scientific research, are funded. You may look at our Web page to find grants of interest to you, or call the Grant Department. Many of the grants are located here.

    What is private-school participation?

    The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), provides educational services and benefits to private school students and educational personnel, including those in religiously affiliated schools. These services are considered to be of assistance to students and educators and not to private schools. The reauthorized ESEA requires the equitable participation of private-school students and educational personnel in some of its major programs. Should you intend to apply for a grant that requires private-school participation, the Grant Department will assist you in meeting this requirement.

    What is the difference between "supplies and materials", and "capital outlay"?

    Supplies and materials - (1) Customarily, items that are consumed or expended in the course of being used; but in some purchasing terminology, all items except construction and services. (2) All property, including but not limited to equipment, materials, printing, insurance, and leases of real property, excluding land or a permanent interest in land. (3) Includes equipment and furniture costing under $500 per item, including maintenance supplies, textbooks, other reading materials, testing materials, food items, audio-visual equipment, computers, awards, trophies, general items, and non-food items such as napkins, plates, etc.

    Capital outlay - (1) Capital outlay refers to purchases of fixed assets such as equipment, furniture, fixtures, buildings, and land. There should be an operational definition of "fixed asset" for each county, so that insignificant items, such as wastebaskets, which are long-lived but immaterial in cost are not included in the capital outlay budget. (2) Equipment or furniture costing $500 or more per item and having a useful life of two years or more. Includes building improvements, furniture, technology-related equipment (computers, audio-visual and copiers; software and videos costing $1,500 or more are to be considered capital outlay), vehicles, library books and other catalogued items, and other equipment.

    What if the funder has policies and rules and regulations that are not consistent with my local school district's? Which policy should I follow?

    You should always follow the policies of your local school district.

    What do funders look for in a proposal?

    Funders expect clarity, conciseness and uniqueness in proposals. They also look for projects that meet needs and also focus on their stated priorities. Good writing skills are essential to successful grant writing. Extra care should be taken to avoid typographical and grammatical errors and strictly follow the funder's guidelines.

    How long does it take to write a proposal and get a grant?

    The time it takes to write a proposal depends on two key factors: your writing skills and the availability of information to be included in the proposal. Remember, grant writing is never done in a vacuum--collaboration with others is essential. You will need ample time to develop your idea, brainstorm with colleagues and experts, and do the necessary research to identify potential funders. And you must allow time for the writing and getting the appropriate signatures before the stated deadlines. It is not unusual for getting a proposal ready for submission to take three to six months. And, it could take longer. The time it takes from submission to the awarding of a grant depends upon the funding source. Some funders make decisions year-round; others meet at various times of the year to review proposals. Read the funder's application materials--they will give you a clear idea on when funding decisions are made. A period of six months to one year is not unusual.

    What should I do if my proposal gets turned down?

    The first thing you should do is to ask for a written copy of the reviewers' comments. This is useful information to have so that when you reapply, your proposal stands a better chance of being approved for funding.

    How many proposals should I send out?

    There is no magic number of proposals to send out. The number you write and submit will depend upon the number of funders you identify in your research whose funding interests match those of your project. It is a waste of time to send out a large number of proposals indiscriminately. You will never get funding this way. The importance of doing the planning and research before writing a grant proposal cannot be emphasized enough.

    How does my school get a grant? There are four basic steps to obtaining a grant.

    1. Grant research: Use this Web site and its resources to find grants for which you are eligible.
    2. Assemble a project team: Put together a team of teachers and administrators at your school who are willing to do the research, write the grant proposal, and, if funded, lead the project.
    3. Develop a plan: Identify your school's need and develop a concrete plan to address it. Make sure you take the time to think through everything you will need to successfully implement your plan.
    4. Write and submit the grant proposal: Carefully follow the grant application guidelines. Write the proposal, prepare the budget, and submit the proposal before the grant deadline.

    How much time does it take to prepare a grant proposal?

    The amount of time and work that it takes to prepare a grant application depends on the number of people on your project team. Most grants have 30 to 90 days from the time the application is released until the application is due. For larger, more complex grant proposals, this may not be enough time. Planning well in advance of the application release date can give you a head start and alleviate some of the pressure.

    What are the key components of the grant proposal?

    The most important components of the grant proposal are the statement of need, the proposed solution, and the evaluation or assessment plan.

    Statement of need: This is where you lay out the need that your school has for this grant. The need is shown primarily through standardized test scores. Teacher and parent surveys are also important indicators of need.

    Proposed solution: This is where you describe the specific steps that you will take to resolve the problem described in your statement of need. The proposed solution usually encompasses changes in classroom instruction, long-term professional development, and some parent or community involvement activities.

    Evaluation plan: This is where you describe the assessment instruments that will be used to measure the progress toward solving the problem that was outlined in the statement of need.

    Each of these three components must be carefully aligned. The proposed solution must directly address and solve the problem as outlined in the statement of need. And the evaluation plan must measure progress in correcting the problem as outlined in the statement of need.

    Can I use a pre-written grant template?

    A pre-written grant template is a complete application that has been written by a company or organization. With a pre-written grant template, all you need to do is fill in your school's name, address and phone number and sign the document. These pre-written grant templates are rejected in most competitions and are strongly discouraged. Please note that several states actually do telephone interviews or onsite visits for grant finalists. If they discover that a pre-written grant template was used, the school typically does not receive funding.

    Can I get grant support from organizations or publishers?

    Yes. Various organizations and publishers, including Scholastic, can provide you with key information on their products and services and you can add this information to your grant application.

    What does it take to win a grant?

    Many grant applications are accompanied by scoring criteria or rubrics. Read them carefully, because they will give you specific guidelines for creating a winning proposal. In the absence of a scoring rubric, read through the grant application and make a careful list of all the items you must address in your proposal. As you fill out the application, check off each item so that your proposal is in full compliance with the grant requirements.

    What is the procedure required by the district in order to submit a request for funding to an outside funding agency?

    All applicants must complete and submit an Intent to Apply form found on the Grant Department's web site. This form may be submitted in person or faxed to 713-556-6946. Upon completion, each proposal must be submitted to the Grant Department at least five (5) working days before it is due to the funding agency if the Grant Department has reviewed the grant, and at least ten working days before it is due to the funding agency if the Grant Department has not reviewed the application.

    Who must sign all grant applications before they can be sent to the funding agency?

    The Superintendent of Schools is the official authority of the district and must sign all applications and requests for funding.