Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Finding the Top Funding Agencies for Your

Posted by Sherry Sherman on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

Describing a funding organization in general that’s a good fit for funding is easy enough: it’s amoney-4.jpg foundation that funds your proposed activities, in the amount you need, when you need it. The time-consuming part is sifting through all of the foundations—their funding criteria and their funding history—to find the ones that are the best match for your organization. There are tens of thousands of foundations, so it can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. can help you with this task by narrowing the field from thousands to a few. Our Grant Opportunity Search is a good way to do that. In this blog, though, we assume you’ve already narrowed the field to several viable agencies that fund the types or programs you want to propose. Now you want to narrow the list further. Here are five questionssome key factors to consider when prioritizing opportunities, and where to find that information. Here are five questions to ask when assessing a potential funder:

  1. Does this funder give in your geographic area? Funders can be quite geographically specific in their mandate (think “community foundations”), and will often reject otherwise very good proposals based on geography alone.
  2. Does the size of grant you need fall within the funder’s guidelines? Grant size can be overlooked.  If you are asking for too much—or even too little—the funder may be less likely to fund your project over a competing project that has an ask amount more in line with the funder’s giving preferences.
  3. What type of support does the organization fund? While some funders will not specify where or how the grant dollars should be spent, other funders will explicitly provide only program support, or may choose not to fund capital campaigns, or prefer not to pay for facilities or equipment.
  4. Are there any specific requirements or restrictions that you have to meet? Funding agencies may require matching funds, which might be a stretch for your organization. They may require reports on end-user demographics that you are not able to obtain. There may be “hidden” requirements as well, as described in a recent blog here.
  5. What is the organization's funding history? Although many foundations publish detailed funding guidelines, actual funding history gives the truest picture of a foundation’s giving interests and patterns. A few questions to ask when evaluating a foundation’s funding history: How diverse are the foundation’s funding practices? Do they give to a wide range of funding categories, or are they very specific in what they choose to fund? How many recent award winners are first-time winners and how many are recurring winners?

There are foundation research products such as FoundationSearch, Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory Online, and GuideStar that provide tools to research and identify funders meeting a diverse range of funding criteria. Both FoundationSearch and Foundation Directory Online are subscription services. GuideStar is a free service. All of these organizations provide access to foundations’ Forms 990 which can provide a wealth of information for a non-profit researching grant opportunities.

Form 990 is the IRS form filed annually by tax-exempt organizations. A few tips for how to review 990s when conducting grant prospect research:

  • Page 1 will typically provide a phone number, contact name, mailing address, etc. in case this information is not readily available online or on a website.
  • A board of directors is usually listed, which can help you see potential connections between the funding organization and yours.
  • A list of previous grantees appears toward the end of most 990s.. The list typically includes the amounts funded, and occasionally the project/type of funding (general operating support, capital, program/project, etc.).


Call or email for help in finding funding agencies, in assessing opportunities you have found, or in any aspect of the grant process.


Photo Credit:Pictures of Money

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, funding needs

Grants for Reentry Programs

Posted by Tammi Hughes on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 @ 20:11 PM

Over 10,000 individuals are released from prisons every week, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. They are expected to start their lives over again, including finding employment, finding a place to live, becoming a part of a community, all while trying to avoid the prison system again. For ex-felons, that can be quite an undertaking. There are stereotypes that go along with having a record as well as the fact that these people have been out of society for some time and may not be familiar with the current norms or expectations.

There are government, community, and non-profit organizations that focus on helping ex-prisoners get their lives back. Below is a list of a few grant opportunities that may help your organization fund reentry programs.

Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration

The Department of Labor has two grant programs for reentry needs. The first program is the Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release (LEAP) Demonstration. The goal of this program is to “develop and operate specialized American Job Centers (AJCs) inside of correctional facilities to address the employment barriers of incarcerated offenders as they transition into the community and the workforce.” Besides correctional facilities, other eligible partners for this program include non-profit supportive service providers, such as philanthropic, community-based, faith-based organizations, and other local government agencies that provide relevant services and resources. The anticipated funding announcement for this program is Winter 2016. Training to Work 3 – Adult Reentry Grants provides funding for training and employment for inmates 18 years and older participating in local or state work release programs. Grant applications for this program are due Jan. 16, 2016.

Safer Foundation

Non-profit organizations located in Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Davenport that provide services to help improve the employability or court-involved youth 17-24 can apply for funding from this grant program. Grants ranging from $125,000-$250,000 will be awarded. According to the website, “organizations that apply for the grants will develop programs that combine the most promising workforce and juvenile justice strategies. They must be capable of providing core services that include youth intensive case management, mentoring, educational interventions, service learning, occupational training in demand industries, workforce development and follow-up services.” The deadline was in September so this is a grant opportunity to file away for next year.

Reentry Help for Veterans

While not specifically a grant, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has programs to help veterans that have been incarcerated. One of them deals specifically with reentry into communities. The Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program assists veterans in reentering the community successfully. This focuses on making sure the veterans have housing, medical care, psychiatric care if necessary, and social services.

Insider Tip

Many foundations have narrow geographic foci while supporting a wide array of social service activities. Though not specifically for re-entry, these foundations could fund re-entry programs under their broader mission. To find them in your area, Google for search terms such as “grants for social services in Atlanta.” It will likely take some additional digging to find a good match, but a search like this will yield several possibilities to look into.


Need more information on any of the above-mentioned grants? Or do you have another subject you need help funding? Can we help find and sort through possibilities for you? Contact us today and we can help with your specific needs. Remember, our first consultation is always free.


Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar

Topics: veterans grants, nonprofit grants, nonprofit, reentry, ex-prisioners, prisoners

School Music Program Grant Opportunities

Posted by Paulette Pierre on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

It is an unfortunate fact that, with school districts tightening their belts, they tend to eliminate the programs they deem may have the least impact. They will focus on those programs that aid the students in the rudimentary courses—math, science and English—while cutting back on those programs that give the students a well-rounded education. Music programs can be one of those on the “cut back” list.

Happily, this tide is turning. According to a survey conducted in early 2015 by the NAMM Foundation (The National Association of Music Merchants), “77 percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents agree that music and arts education are either ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important.’” In addition, “63 percent of teachers and 57 percent of parents believe music education should be a required subject in middle school.” Private funders seem to agree. Here are a few foundations that offer grants for school music programs across the country.

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

Founded in 1996 by the creative talent behind the movie of the same name, this is one foundation truly championing the underserved populations. While they will accept applications from private schools, preference is given to music programs serving low-income public school students that participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program. The school must already have an established music program, so funding for start-up programs is not given. This grant program is different than most in that it funds only musical instruments that have been donated new or refurbished. The 2016-2017 grant cycle just closed (November 3, 2015), but it's an annual cycle, so you can use the year to prepare for the Fall 2016 submission. View grant requirements on the foundation’s website for more details.

Tip: The foundation does not offer cash grants, so be specific as to what musical instruments your program needs and why.

Music Empowers Foundation

Started in 2010, The Music Empowers Foundation “provides funding to nonprofits that provide music instruction to children in communities where it does not exist or is underdeveloped.” This means nonprofit organizations, universities, and other foundations working to facilitate music programs in underserved communities and schools. The foundation’s website does not list specific past grantees or a range of funding offered, but does highlight some recipients. One grantee featured on their website was an arts school in New York that received a $20,000 grant. There is no specific grant cycle announced, so the applications may be funded on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to email the foundation directly to apply.

Tip: Foundations, such as this one, appreciate smart collaborations and partnerships. If your organization can partner with other community groups, this will make your application much more competitive.

The Mockingbird Foundation

Begun in 1996 by fans of a rock band, The Mockingbird Foundation is 100% volunteer-run (rare in the grant making world) and funded through donations online. This business model is intended to direct more of the dollars raised go towards deserving nonprofit organizations. The foundation has three funding priority areas, two of which are directly related to music programs focused on underserved communities. According to the foundation’s website, “Mockingbird is particularly interested in projects that encourage and foster creative expression in any musical form” and “encourages applications associated with diverse or unusual musical styles, genres, forms, and philosophies.” Grant requests range from as little as $100 up to a maximum of $5,000. Applicants must first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) through the foundation’s online form. The Letters of Inquiry are accepted on a rolling basis from January through August 1 of each year. If chosen, applicants are invited to submit a full proposal.

Tip: While the range of grants may be lower than other foundations funding similar programs, sometimes even a small grant can be an important boost for an existing, well-run program. Don’t overlook the benefits of smaller grants.


A Grant Helper can review and advise on an initial letter of intent, to help you get past the first gate in funding. Contact us for assistance for all of your grant needs.


Photo Credit: Eaglebrook School

Topics: music grants, grants for new music instruments, school resources, grants for music education, grant opportunity, grants, school grant

Health and Wellness Grant Opportunities

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 @ 12:10 PM

This week wants to help those organizations focused on making sure people get well and stay well. Grants for health and wellness cover a wide variety of programs and projects from healthy eating to childhood obesity to senior citizen needs. If you don’t see your priority area below in our hand-picked list, contact us for a free consultation. We can find a grant that will your specific needs.

Lawrence Foundation

Non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for grants for human services from this foundation. Grants are awarded for both programming and operating needs, and there are no geographic restrictions for the funding. Grants are awarded twice a year with deadlines of Nov. 1 and April 30. Grants for computer purchases, hospices, and nursing homes are some of the examples of items that the foundation will not fund.

Fidelity Foundation

Organizations can submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to the Fidelity Foundation for grants in the health and wellness realm. Only non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Start-up, civic, public school systems, and disease-specific organizations are not eligible. Additionally, eligible organizations must have operating budgets of $500,000 or more, and the project they are intending to fund with the grant must have a budget of $50,000 or more. The foundation accepts applications on a rolling basis.

Insider Tip: This foundation requires somewhat extensive post-grant reporting and a significant budget requirement. Therefore, only larger regional or nationwide organizations are likely to be qualified to apply to this program.

CSX Beyond Our Rails

Organizations in a CSX service area (primarily Eastern and Midwestern U.S.) could apply for funding from the CSX Beyond Our Rails grant program. Non-profit organizations as well as fire departments and schools with an IRS code of 170(c) can apply for funding. Online applications are accepted from Jan. 1 through Dec. 15 every year. One of the foundation’s four priorities is health and wellness, specifically healthy lifestyles and wellness education. Typical grants range from $2,500-$5,000. Past grants have helped fund physical activity programs for children, programs to decrease obesity, and programs that help prevent diseases. Take a brief, online eligibility quiz to see if you can apply.

Healthy Living Grant Program

Via this grant program, the American Medical Association has awarded over $1.2 million to 352 non-profit health education organizations since the inception of the program in 2002. Grants are given to health education programs to develop school and community-based solutions to behavioral health challenges. Examples of past grantees include Girls on the Run, a program that encourages physical activity as well as People’s Grocery, an organization that helps increase access to healthy food in a community. The current grant cycle has passed. Check back in June 2016 for application deadlines.


We are a team of specialists with a wide variety of expertise that can help you in every step of the grant process. Let us develop your programming so it’s as fundable as it can be, let us find grants to meet all your needs, and let us help you meet grant reporting requirements. We have a full list of services for you to choose from.


Photo Credit: Tax Credits


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Topics: grants for health, wellness grant, health and wellness grant, health grants, health care funding, healthy youth, grants for health and wellness, health grant, health and wellness funding, health care grants, health and wellness grants

Grant Seeking and Politicians: Like Making a Bed

Posted by Sherry Sherman on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 @ 15:10 PM

capitolA recent Gallup poll showed a meager 14% of Americans approve of the US Congress. Though personally you may not be happy with your political leaders’ policy making, contacting staff at your elected representative’s offices can help with grant funding. Politicians—local, state, and national—can be instrumental in supporting your grant seeking efforts. Furthermore, they can connect you with key decision makers, advise you of upcoming funding opportunities, and help facilitate your grant application.

A caveat: some funding organizations look askance at any political intervention. So temper these tips with an awareness of funders’ sensitivities.

To get the greatest benefits, take the layered approach. It’s like making your bed: complete one task before starting the next.

The Initial Contact – The Bottom Sheet

The first layer – let’s call it the bottom sheet – is calling or emailing your elected representative to let them know you’re a constituent and your organization could use their help finding funding. Keep in mind that representatives are elected to serve on your behalf, so don’t be reluctant to call them.

Congressional representatives in all fifty states have an office in Washington, DC and an office in the district they represent. Both offices typically have staff that can help with grant seeking. The same is also true of most state representatives (an office in the state capital and in their district). Make it your goal to identify the appropriate staff contact, in local, state and federal offices, during the first conversation.

Don’t forget the governor’s office when it comes to contacting state officials. The governor’s office has an overview of all state funding opportunities and has also been elected to assist you.

During your initial contact, briefly introduce your organization, state your organization’s funding needs, and ask for a meeting.

The Meeting – The Top Sheet

One prime objective of this meeting, if not already in effect, would be to get a commitment from the elected official’s office to alert you to potential funding opportunities. Another might be to determine other ways in which the legislator’s staff could assist you, and how you can best provide useful information to them. Meeting time will be short, so come prepared. In terms of information quality is more important than quantity. This meeting is the perfect time to use that “90 second elevator speech” I mentioned in my previous blog, First Steps to Grant Funding: Get Started Building Relationships. Be sure to leave them with a packet of information.

Keeping in Touch – The Comforter Once you have established a relationship with elected officials it is advantageous to keep in touch with them at regular intervals. Keeping in touch provides the dual benefit of guiding the support you need while fostering a helpful relationship.Following are three times it can be most useful to give your elected representatives a call:

  • Near the end of the fiscal year: Some state fiscal years end June 30; others end September 30. The federal fiscal year typically ends on September 30. At these times, leftover monies may need to be quickly dispensed before they have to be returned to the state legislatures or to Congress.
  • When you decide to apply for a government funding opportunity: It’s helpful to let your elected officials know that you’re submitting a grant application. They may be able to provide you with some useful introductions or helpful knowledge about the funding agency.
  • When your application has been rejected: Especially in the case of Government programs with minimal feedback, your elected officials may be able to ascertain additional information about why your application was turned down.

Wine and Dine Them – The Throw Pillows

It can be beneficial to host an annual legislative event inviting both the elected official (local, state, and federal) and the contact person in their office. The event can be a simple breakfast, lunch, or dinner where you present an overview of your organization, a portfolio of achieved outcomes, and a wish list for programs and services. Impress them with the good you are doing within their district, and demonstrate that your organization has the need for government funding.

Topics: grant writing help

Proposal Development Brings More Than Funding

Posted by Cara Wasilewski on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

UntitledFeatured Guest Blog from Cara at Industry Grants...

 We have all (hopefully) been there…that moment you find the perfect grant to fund your innovative project or important program. You read the Request for Proposals and envision how you are going to spend the money…how this grant is going to support you in achieving your goals in monetary terms. Because that is the most important aspect of getting a grant…correct? The funding is the most imperative part of receiving a grant…right?

Having written millions of dollars in successful grant applications over the last two decades, I have found that there is a potentially greater benefit to developing a grant proposal than the money gained: critical project Ddvelopment.

Developing a grant application – especially one that has the potential for a large amount of funding – opens the opportunity to develop a great project or program beyond what you thought to begin with.

Applying for a grant helps you to “think outside the box” so to speak. Large state and federal grant applications often require you to input a lot of information that typically you wouldn’t think about prior to developing a proposal. As you begin to formulate the how and when and where portions of your application, ideas begin to come to light on how to make your great project or program even better, in a shorter timeframe, and with a more refined focus area.

Developing a grant application gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your project/program team as well. There will be individuals who add value to your application that probably weren’t even considered prior to the solicitation. In addition to developing your team, you will also begin thinking of important project partners that will enhance the important work you are doing.

And let’s talk about those letters of support. These letters from elected officials, agencies, organizations, and individuals voice the importance of what you are doing. They also expand your audience and increase potential additions to the project or program you are working on and other revenue streams that could contribute to your success.

The next time you sit down to start your next grant application…think of it as a strategic development process. Doing this will open up possibilities and opportunities that you didn’t think about before the grant solicitation was announced. You are on your way to success when you look at the bigger picture. As always, good luck in developing both grant strategy and applications to move society forward.


Cara Wasilewski is the CEO of Industry Grants, which is a comprehensive database of federal and state government grants that makes the front-end of the process easier, intuitive and simple to use. For more information, go to or connect with her directly at

Topics: Grant Writing and Planning

Grants to Keep Your School Safe

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

school_safetySadly, school safety is back in the news with the recent tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. TheGrantHelpers put an emphasis on school safety in 2012 when 20 children and six adults were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We doubled our efforts to find grants to help you secure your schools, and released our "School Emergency Preparedness Overview" to help you see how prepared your school is for an emergency.


It might be a good idea to create a list of equipment and items that are necessary to make your school safe. Of course, each list will vary based on your school's needs but some items you may want to have on your list include:

  • Security system such as cameras
  • Improved school lighting
  • ID card readers on entryways
  • Fixed lock entry doorways
  • New solid doors
  • Fences to create definite school boundaries
  • Programs to educate staff, students

Just as important to physical equipment are the procedures put in place to use them, and periodic drills and walk-throughs to assure preparedness.

Funding your your list of school security needs is often a challenge. To help you get a good start, below are selected grant opportunities that may be of interest.


Two major programs helping to fund school security are included under the umbrella of the US Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant programs. There are two COPS programs that fund school security needs: Community Policing Development (CPD) and COPS Hiring Program (CHP). In Fiscal Year 2015 CPD funded projects related to a number of public safety topic areas totaling $6 million. The COPS Hiring Program awarded 209 grants this fiscal year to hire or rehire police officers. Special consideration was given to those applicants requesting funding for a School Resource Officer. Funding for both of these programs has already been allocated for this fiscal year. It is expected solicitations for these programs will appear late spring/early summer.

Video Insight

Video Insight has created the School Security Grant to help schools attain video surveillance systems. In January 2015, the company began giving away one grant per month, and it will continue to do so until the end of the year. K-12 schools as well as colleges are eligible to apply. Each Video Insight School Security Grant recipient will receive the following equipment:

  • 48 Video Insight Video Management Software (VMS) licenses
  • 16 IP video surveillance cameras
  • 1 video encoder
  • 10 years of the Video Insight Software Upgrade Program (SUP)

Insider Tip: The application for this program is fairly short and simple, yet it may be useful to have your IT person help fill out the application. There are some technology specific questions.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education

This retail store may not seem like a place to find grants for school security needs. However, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education focuses giving on K-12 public/charter education and community improvement projects. The projects can include building renovations/upgrades, grounds improvements, and safety improvements. Grant requests can range from $2,000 to $100,000. The fall application cycle ends Oct. 16. That deadline too soon? This foundation accepts applications again in the spring.

For additional information on identifying security risks within your school, or for additional resources on school security, you may want to see our previous blog article, “How Secure Is My School?”


Our team of experts can help you find funds for all your pressing needs from school security to municipality projects to non-profit programs in general. The first consultation with a Grant Helper with expertise in your specific area of need is always free. Don’t delay and contact us today.


Photo Credit: Jason Lawrence

Topics: education, emergency preparedness grants, disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness

Grants for Food and Hunger Relief

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

food-1No one should go without the basic need of food. Yet every day children go to school hungry, and parents skip meals so their children can eat. Organizations throughout the United States are working to make sure all individuals know where their next meal is coming from. To help achieve that goal, we have selected some grants that fund programs related to hunger relief and food.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s focus is helping organizations that address basic human needs, such as hunger. Non-profit organizations that provide access to vital food supplies and services to feed individuals, children, and families are eligible to apply. Examples of these include: food pantries, after-school feeding and nutrition programs, food stamp programs, or child backpack programs. A special consideration is given to those organizations that focus on the immediate challenges of food access and connect the people they serve to supportive services and economic livelihood programs that help toward financial stability. The application period for this focus area ended in August. However, it’s not too early to start preparing for the 2016 request for proposals. This is an annual competitive grant program.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless

This grant program awards $5,000 grants to organizations focused on raising awareness of hunger and homeless issues. The grants are to be used for sponsorship of educational events, conferences, or community forums. Fundraising events are not eligible. Eligible agencies must be non-profit and must serve hungry or homeless people as their primary function. Events scheduled between May 1 and Oct. 31 should apply by Feb. 1. Events between Nov. 1 and Apr. 30 should apply by Aug. 1.

Jewel-Osco Foundation

The grocery store chain focuses on several areas of hunger and nutrition for its grant program. The grant program referenced here supports non-profit organizations aimed at ending hunger relief, either by food distribution or hunger relief programming. Grants are also awarded to entities that provide nutrition education and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet. All grants must be submitted online and can be submitted at any time during the year.

The Kroger Co. Foundation

Non-profit organizationslocated where Kroger has operations are eligible to apply for this grant program. The foundation has seven different area of interests including local hunger relief organizations. Organizations that are hoping to fund a project with a strong base of community support will receive priority.

Insider tip: The Kroger Co. Foundation is unique in that it does not have a formal application process nor a team that analyzes/awards the grants. The foundation relies solely on the management of Kroger operating units to make recommendations for funding requests. Therefore, building a positive relationship with your local Kroger management team would be a good first step toward getting your hunger project funded.


Our blog contains a wealth of information ranging from grant opportunities to insights into the grant industry to grant strategies from our team of experts. We want to provide you valuable information every week so you are prepared to start your grant journey. We welcome your questions and suggestions for topics.

Want more? Check us out on Twitter (@TheGrantHelpers) and Facebook. Or schedule a free consultation with one of our expert Grant Helpers.


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Topics: food grants, food program grants, hunger, food insecurity, hunger prevention grants, hunger relief

Grants for School Field Trips

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 @ 14:09 PM

field_tripThe school year is a month in, and teachers are gearing up for field trips to pumpkin patches and corn mazes. These trips outside the school building are a great way to break up the school year, as well as a chance for hands-on education. Some of the best learning comes outside the classroom. So whether your school’s field trip ends with a science lesson or just a pumpkin to take home, we can help find funding to make it happen. Below is a hand-selected list of grants for school field trips.


Target knows it’s hard for schools to find funding for intangibles like field trips. That is why the retail giant offers $700 to K-12 schools nationwide. Grant applications are accepted every year from Aug. 1 - Oct. 1. That deadline is coming right up! If you need help meeting it, get in touch. We can accommodate rush deadlines. Over 3,600 grants will be awarded this school year. Funds may be used for transportation, ticket fees, food, resource materials, and supplies.

Walmart Community Giving Program

K-12 public or private schools could also apply to the Walmart Community Giving Program for field trip funding. Walmart will award $250-$2,500 grants, and applications will be accepted until Dec. 31. Schools must be located in a Walmart service area. Insider tip: Walmart’s four main goals are: healthy eating, sustainability, women’s economic empowerment, and career opportunities. Align your field trip with one of these areas to increase your chance of funding.

Verizon Foundation Grants

Verizon doesn’t specifically fund field trips but it does fund STEM education. So, to get your field trip funded, plan a STEM-orientated trip, maybe to a hands-on science museum or a robotics lab. Teachers and administrators of K-12 schools are eligible to apply. The average grant is $5,000-$10,000. New applications are now by invitation only. For help on handling invitation only applications, check out this blog.

NEA Foundation

This grant program focuses on improving teaching and enhancing learning, so fundable field trips would need to have an educational purpose. K-12 school teachers are eligible to apply. Application deadlines are: February 1, June 1, and October 15. This foundation has awarded more than $7.1 million to fund nearly 4,500 grants in the past 10 years.


School field trips can be funded through a variety of different grant programs, from the ones focused on education to the ones focused purely on field trip needs. We can help find you the right grant to fund your unique needs. Check out our full line of services, and even purchase some of them online.


Photo Credit: Joshua Tree National Park

Topics: education, education funds, education grants, education grant

Mapping Out Your Grant Funding Approach

Posted by Sherry Sherman on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 @ 10:09 AM

treasure_mapWhen I first started grant writing I took the “ready, fire, aim” approach to grant prospecting. Tasked with finding grant funding, I simply started researching funders and shooting out letters of inquiry (LOIs) hoping one would be a silver bullet and hit the right target. I soon learned grant seeking is extremely competitive and involves far more than “write an application, win an award, and receive money.” You have to be prepared. You need a map.

Back in 2004, The Foundation Center’s Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates revealed that two-thirds foundations received more than 50 proposals per funding cycle. That’s strong competition, and that was a while ago. Furthermore, only 38% actually funded half of the proposals submitted. These figures accentuate the importance of being prepared before undertaking a grant proposal.

Grant seeking is like going on a treasure hunt: there is hidden money out there to be found but a good map is needed to find it. Experience taught me to create a good map for my “treasure hunt.” There are many key elements. Here are four that I’ll discuss in this blog:

   1) Identify the needs of the population served
   2) Develop programming to address the identified needs
   3) Research potential funders
   4) Build organizational involvement in grant seeking.

Indentify and substantiate need. Remember, a grant it is not just free money. Grants are awarded to an organization to serve a particular need in the community, and the money must be used for that purpose. A thorough assessment of the needs of the population being served is the basis for a “grant writing treasure map.” Given how competitive grant writing is, it is vital that funders find the proposed service being provided as pressing. The need must also be aligned with the funder’s priorities. During the needs assessment, prioritize the most critical needs. Provide statistical data—hard numbers—to support the need. A grant application must build a case that the identified need is acute and that the organization has the means, capacity, and commitment to successfully solve the problem.

Develop effective programming. Developing programming in response to the designated need is the next piece of the grant writing treasure map. Establish programming in response to a community need, while keeping in mind likely funding sources. Set programming priorities that address the need in areas that might appeal to multiple funders. Then conduct a more thorough grant search for specific sources. It is imperative to adhere to the funder’s grant making guidelines, and it’s also crucial that the programming is solving a pressing problem. This is a fundamental part of assuring the funder there is an organizational commitment to the programming.

Research funders. Building relationships with funders is ongoing. Your grant strategy and programming both need to take into account the likelihood of being funded. Your programming decisions will point toward some potential funders and away from others. After the programming planning cycle, your goal is to expand the pool of potential funders that are a fit for the priortized programming. A good place to start looking is in the list of funders in competitors’ annual reports. There is a decent chance those funders may also be a suitable match for the selected programming. Another good idea is to contact all of your vendors to find out if they may have foundations or funding available. Connections with those in the political arena may also be fruitful—the topic of a future blog. Finding sources is a vast field. You might be interested in two recent blogs about finding potential sources:  What To Do When Funds Dry Up and Multiple Streams of Grant Income.

High-level organizational involvement. The Board of Directors and executive personnel should be involved in several ways. To expand the pool of potential funders, explore possible connections with the Board of Directors, management, and staff. More generally, grant writers should ask the Board and managers to establish grant seeking goals, set timelines to achieve the goals, and define roles for staff. The highest levels of the organization must allot sufficient resources to pursue funding opportunities. A vital piece in writing a successful grant is demonstrating that your organization has the resources and capabilities to achieve the goals presented in the proposal.


The Grant Helpers can provide guidance in your treasure map. We can advise on approach and strategy, we can help find funding sources, and we can help develop powerful grant applications. Contact Tammi Hughes to move along your map more quickly.