What Makes a Successful Grant Application?

We have published a number of blogs with tips and information on how to write a successful grant application, covering topics from budgets to narratives and Letters of Inquiry to thank you letters to funders. But what do successful grant applications look like? What makes them stand out? Which projects have captured funders’ attention? Below is an example of a successful grant application.

Jonathan Jones won a $3,000 grant from the Education Minnesota Foundation for his yearbook project. After learning about digital photography while working on a project the previous year, students were able to develop and grow their skills through the funded project. This is his application for funding that he shared with us:


WEC School Yearbook Project ­ Year 2

Special consideration has been approved by the Foundation to apply for the Classroom Grant for 2014­2015. Given that we were successful in implementing our yearbook project for 2013­2014 we hope to be refunded to expand on our original objectives and give us the potential to realize additional goals based on the learning and outcomes for 2014­2015 project.


The outcomes for our first year proposal was to provide students the opportunity to explore and develop their knowledge base with cloud based applications and equipment to create meaningful products such as our school yearbook. Student utilized Chromebooks, Google Chrome, Pixlr Express, Nikon cameras, TreeRing (cloud application) and Adobe Photoshop to create our yearbook. ​It has been one year since we completed our project. ​The project affected ​5 programs at WEC and ​17classrooms. Of 163 total students we had ​98students who attended a multimedia class. Given this ​60% of the total school population had opportunity to contribute to our first school yearbook. We had ​46 students (47%) who signed up for a TreeRing account and assisted on the design and production of our yearbook. Our yearbook was 40 pages and could be purchased for $18.94. We purchased 28 books for our graduating seniors and program staff.

Conducting this project we encountered problems, benefits and ideas for the production of our 2014­2015 yearbook. The first challenge we faced was getting staff to communicate and distribute yearbook flyers to students. The second challenge was signing students up who were not in our multimedia class. The third, cost of the yearbook prohibited students from being able to purchase them. We also had benefits that came out of the creation of our first yearbook. Our graduating seniors were able to take home a copy at no cost and their parents were very appreciative of this. Also for every yearbook purchased TreeRing planted one tree, which means 28 baby trees were planted in our school’s name. To address year one challenges, we have designed our flyer for students that will be distributed in their classes, mailed to parents/guardians and displayed on our school TV monitors throughout the building. All students will be required to have a Google account, which will streamline sign up. Finally, we hope to secure program and community funding to purchase yearbooks for all students for the coming year given the financial needs of our community.

The outcomes for our second year proposal is to provide students the opportunity to grow their skills in cloud based applications and equipment to create our school yearbook.​This year students will become more familiar with the different camera modes to capture memorable moments and activities to put into the yearbook. Last year 47% of the students that helped design and create the yearbook had their first experience with our high-end digital camera. Students were unfamiliar with the various settings, modes and features they could use to take great photos. This year students will move from taking all their photos in auto mode to identifying the right type of mode to use to capture sharper, clearer images for our yearbook. Another project goal will be to determine what we need to produce our yearbook in house, which will reduce the cost for next school year and maintain the longevity of future school yearbooks. Students will receive their free yearbook after completing a quality and design feedback form. This form will be used to measure the success of our year two project. This feedback will be shared with the students who have developed their photography skills and contributed to the design of the yearbook. This feedback will also be helpful going forward as we move towards the goal of printing future yearbooks in house.

Given the financial needs of our students, no students were able to purchase the yearbook last year. Receiving this grant will allow us to purchase yearbooks for 120 students. We are also submitting a grant to NEA to purchase an additional 60 yearbooks. This project is supported by program, district and community funds. Grant funds will be used to purchase student yearbooks.


Project Budget

Description of Expenditure(s) Request for NEA Total
Second­Year Grant Cost
120 ­ School Yearbooks (for Students) ($25) $3000 $0 $3000
60 ­ School Yearbooks (for Students) ($25) $0 $2000 $2000
Total MN Education Foundation Grant Request $3000
Total Additional Funding $2000
Total Project Cost $5000