Show Me “The Jewish Day School Money”: Tips for Successful Jewish Day School Grant

Grants

Show Me “The Jewish Day School Money”:
Tips for Successful Jewish Day School Grant

Writing By Shira Weinstein, MA, Counseling Psychology 

Over the course of my past 12 years working for Jewish day schools, I have been fortunate to receive several hundreds of thousand dollars in grant funding for special programs. As a Jewish day school alum, it brings me pride to know I am helping to bring the bells and whistles of programs in the arts, sciences, math, literacy, experiential field trips, and special needs program support to the next generation of day school students. With shrinking budgets, rising costs, and the need for state-of-the-art unique programs to win families to our schools, the challenge of bringing in grant funding is a challenge worth taking.

The grant funding application process can be grueling, and the challenges that present themselves are many. Here are seven tips I have learned over the years that will best position your school to receive grant funding: 
1. Establish a grants coordinator who works on all aspects of state, federal, and private grants. While in a larger setting, the grant writer does not carry out the grant or help write the evaluations, in a Jewish day school that is not typically the case. A day school grant writer usually works directly with the team carrying out the grant, creates the surveys, takes the photos, and prepare the evaluations necessary to procure reimbursements.
2. Do your homework to identify organizations that most want to help Jewish day schools. Reach out to those organizations and ask to see award-winning grant applications to review (but not to copy) and adapt your application in ways that may support your application for their readers. Also, some organizations list past winners on their websites. It can be a good idea to connect with day schools that have won grants to learn from them.
3. Study the mission of the grant foundation, and work on matching your needs with their mission. Find out in advance what kinds of projects the foundation will and will not fund. Avoid soliciting support for materials or supplies that your school needs. Foundations typically prefer funding programs rather than materials. 4. Support the application with research. Be sure to show your knowledge of what you are applying for, and demonstrate your school’s needs.
5. Titles can captivate, and a picture says a thousand words. A compelling title, picture, or a link to a school video that supports the proposal can help seal the deal!
6. Follow the rules. This applies to every stage of the grant process. Don’t wait until the last minute or after the deadline to apply. If you say you will do something in the proposal, then you must do exactly that and follow up with a report that shows it was done. Proper and timely reporting is imperative to receiving reimbursements.
7. Not every grant covers every project entirely, so plan accordingly. Sometimes schools must budget to fund incidental costs or reach out to other donors to meet the grant matching requirements. It is important to consider the fact that if the foundation only 
agrees to fund a portion of your program, your school will need to have or raise the additional resources.

In closing, a few important things to keep in mind: 
⇒ Grants are not slush funds. They fund only what is approved from the proposal 
by the foundation.
⇒ Grant writing is a process that involves editing, revising, and checking in with all parties involved in carrying out the grant. From my grant-writing training, I learned that the most successful grant proposals have had at least five to seven readers!
⇒ You will not receive every grant you apply for, but you will have success if you try these tricks and do not give up.

Sometimes winning awards or recognition is the goal, as it leads to connections who want to fund you for future programs. Other times, collaborating with other groups or seeking funding through multiple groups can be the key to success for your organization. Whatever path you choose, keep on trying! Nothing is more fulfilling than watching videos of the special programs or hearing the feedback from the students, staff, and families who have benefitted from the experiences the grant programs have brought to our schools. Make the memories yours!

Shira Weinstein has been writing and coordinating grant programs at Kellman Brown Academy in Voorhees, New Jersey, and Politz Day School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for the past 7+ years. She has consulted for other schools and would be happy to help your Jewish day school. Interested in learning more or speaking with Shira about grants? Contact her at smweinstein@gmail.com.