Technology in the classroom has been a hot topic among educators for a number of years now. Some of the technologies being deployed in the classroom include computer workstations, laptops, tablets (including iPads), iPods, videoconferencing technologies, wireless Internet, SmartBoards, robotics and more. Though not a technology per se, educators are also increasingly integrating social media into their classrooms.
In my opinion, ten years ago it was fairly easy to write a grant proposal to deploy technology in the classroom and get it funded. Today however, that is not the case.
Interactive technologies are often viewed as a ‘magic bullet’ for increasing student engagement and improving academic outcomes. Funders and grant reviewers are aware of this trend and are consequently, increasing their scrutiny of technology-focused grant proposals.
I work as a professional reviewer for funding agencies throughout the United States and in my estimate about 75% of the education proposals I review include a technology component. Unfortunately, the majority of these proposals do not get funded. In my opinion, most writers focus too heavily on the technologies themselves and not enough on how they can help achieve the desired goals and objectives.
Most technology-focused proposals I have read are poorly defined and seem to expect that the mere inclusion of technologies will ensure the project’s success. A colleague recently passed along the following comment, “If we were going to fund every project that proposed middle school robotics, we would need more funding than the Department of Defense.”
When I write a technology proposal I use the same basic approach every time.
First, be sure to review the funding agency’s giving priorities to be certain that your project is a fit. Usually, the funder will have general giving priorities and then outline specific types of projects that it is seeking to fund. Carefully review the guidelines to verify that both your school is eligible to apply for funding and that your project is a fit with the funder’s interests. If there is not a match, don’t waste your time developing a proposal because it will not get reviewed. Funders receive hundreds and sometimes thousands of grant proposals each year and will not consider proposals that are outside the scope of their funding priorities.
Be certain to follow the instructions outlined in the RFP or funding announcement. This seems obvious but in reality, not following the given instructions is the number one reason that grant proposals do not get funded. In many cases an applicant ignores a question or does not provide a requested attachment. If a question does not apply to your school, organization or situation, never leave it blank. Instead, at the very least write ‘not applicable’ or provide a brief explanation why the question does not apply.
In the next post I will provide more details about how to approach individual components of the grant proposal.
Ron Flavin has won more than $146 million in grant funding for his clients. Contact him today to find out how he can help you obtain the funding you need to achieve your organization's goals and objectives.