Dollars and Sense #26: Grants 2, Putting it Together

Once you’ve identified the areas of need for your community/school teens, it is time to put the parts together for the grant. There are usually parts of a grant that work together as a whole, but these parts explain to the grant committee how the grant will work: the narrative and the budget. The narrative is the overview and will describe the “big picture” in a way that explains the grant goals, objectives, and how the grant will benefit your target group, teens. It will have sections that you will need to address such as describing how the grant will be implemented, who is willing to donate time and funds for “cost sharing,” and how the success of the grant will be evaluated and the results disseminated. The budget is a tricky piece that is a detailed accounting of how all monies will be spent, and if this is a federal grant, there will be rules that have to be strictly followed.

For successful writing, remember that your “data,” how it will be collected, analyzed, and evaluated, will be critical because data is the only thing that will show if the grant has been successful, and the grant committee members will be closely examining how you will show that their investment will be used to benefit the greatest number of teens in the most efficient way. The narrative will be more credible when you use the data from your needs assessment to justify the need for the program you and the grant committee/network envision for the community/school.

It is important to consider how to prove the effects of the grant program. Consider using data collection tools such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups to collect data that will support your evaluation of the grant implementation (see earlier posts such as Linda Braun’s #25 for more data collection ideas). You will need to develop a plan for data collection before the program begins, during the implementation of the program, and post implementation at the end of the grant. Know that your data will be critical for the reports that you will be required to submit during the grant if you are applying for federal monies. Consider using some public statistics such as student achievement increases and participation statistics in local law enforcement or social services programs if these programs intersect with the grant goals to further describe teen community activities and support your claims.

Use subject headings to delineate the different sections of your grant. If the grant specifies required sections, use their terminology as subject headings so that there is no question that you followed the instructions. The clearer you make the organization and content, the better chances you have of receiving the money. The beginning of the narrative will include context such as community/school demographics, connections to your stakeholders, goal objectives, and outline the organization of the grant. The middle of the narrative will include how you know this program is needed (the data from your needs assessment) and a step by step description of how the program will be implemented including all stakeholders’ responsibilities and contributions. Somewhere in the middle you should have a section for how you will collect data to show how the program benefits the teens. The data collection procedures should be very clear and consistent. If you are using survey, focus groups or interviews, explain how and when these research tools will be used. You might want to include some sample questions so that the grant committee members will know what kind of information you will be collecting. Once you get the grant, you can further specify the data collection questions. The end of the narrative will explain what you intend to do with the data you have collected throughout the grant program. You should have some ideas of dissemination such as presenting the results at a state or national conference such as ALA or writing an article for publication about the grant program to benefit other librarians across the nation (more about this next post).

Putting together the budget will require that you know the requirements for the funds you are seeking. Once again, you must follow the rules, and if they say that your fund resource does not include monies for food, then be sure not to include any food in the budget allowance you are requesting; however, food would be a great “cost sharing” item for one or more of your stakeholders.

Most grant application procedures include examples of grants that have been accepted. Go over those examples to see what grant committee members are looking for and use the example to set up the organization and content of you own grant. Know that writing a grant takes time and effort, but just like any other worthy project, when you get the letter of acceptance in the mail or email, it with worth the effort to see how the program benefits the teens in your community. The last grant post for Dollars and Sense will include a list of resources as well as a discussion of ideas for dissemination of the results from your project—an often overlooked but critical part of the grant process.

Junion-Metz, Gail. (2009, Nov. 1). Need funding? These Web resources help you through grant
‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  seeking process. Retrieved from the School Library Journal Web site:
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Miller, Donna P. (2007). Crash course in teen services. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

About Paula Griffith

Paula Griffith teaches young adult literature at the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a member of YALSA's Legislative Committee.
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