You Have to Apply Twice: To the Foundation and to Your Principal
Imagine you have found a perfect grant opportunity for your classroom. You have contacted the foundation and they are interested in your project and encouraging you to apply. The next step is to write your application. It all sounds straightforward, but often there is one more step in between. You don’t just need to apply once to the foundation—you have to apply twice because first you have to convince your principal to support your application.
Most applications require the proposal or the application to be proved, signed, and supported by the school principal or district superintendent. While it is not the same type of application used for foundations, some information is similar. If you are ready to write your application for a foundation, you have already gathered necessary data: demographics, target audience, impact, benefits, and how you plan to sustain the project beyond the grant. However, there is a difference in how you present the proposal to a principal versus a foundation.
Your principal has a number of priorities. These might, in large, align with your own, but your principal also has a broader picture in mind. To convince him or her to support your proposal, demonstrate and exemplify how it will benefit your classroom and the entire school.
The Time is Now
Finding the right time to approach your principal is as important as being prepared. Do not barge in or try to catch him or her in the hallway or parking lot at the end of the day. Make initial contact via email to request a discussion of a potential grant proposal. Schedule an appointment and set aside enough time to explain your proposal in detail.
Preparation is Everything
When you meet with your principal, have all facts and solutions at hand. This is not the time for discussing problems. This is the time to present solutions. You should have projects planned already, including cost, outcomes, and benefits. Present this information succinctly and persuasively.
Finding other teachers or school staff to collaborate with and help with implementation is always a good idea. The more people you have to help you, the less the principal has to get involved.
Highlight the Benefits
This does not merely mean presenting the outcomes and benefits to your classroom, students, or program. Show your principal how this project will put your school on the radar of foundations and other schools for being inventive, innovative, and one-of-a-kind. Illustrate how the project will set an example for other classrooms and schools.
Consider splitting your proposal into smaller steps. Listen to your principal’s ideas and concerns. Compromising is better than walking out of the office empty-handed. Remember that if you do not ask, you won’t receive the support you need.