STEM grants don’t grow on trees, but they are available to those educators who are willing to put time and effort into crafting an effective application.
In 2015, the U.S. Federal Government increased its STEM education budget by 3.7 percent from the year before. But many classrooms could still benefit from extra funding for special projects or new equipment. Here are a few points to keep in mind while pursuing STEM grants for your classroom:
1. Set clear goals and create an outline for how they might be achieved.
If you can’t easily articulate the project or why you need assistance, it might be wise to spend a bit more time fine-tuning and simplifying your idea. Use active voice and uncomplicated, transparent language. Be prepared to answer any questions and have a realistic, organized budget plan. Is there research to support why this STEM grant would make a significant improvement to student learning? Bring out the data and charts to make a statement in numbers that’s hard to refute. The NEA (National Education Association) Foundation offers a writing tutorial for educators who plan to write a grant proposal.
Applying for STEM grants on a smaller scale are a good place to start. Pursue mini-grants for lower sums, such as the ones offered by the National Girls Collaborative Project, which are designed to encourage girls in their pursuit of STEM education.
2. Showcase the innovative work you’ve already done.
The National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education recommends ensuring that “the project personnel have the necessary expertise to accomplish the goals and objectives.” They also suggest carefully weighing the intellectual merit and broader impact of the work. Connect the project to the things you are already doing in your classroom and explain how it would enhance students’ experiences and understanding. Describe the innovative things happening in your classroom now to demonstrate your ability to implement the project you’re proposing.
Why do you believe that this organization, specifically, might be interested in funding your particular project? Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your application. Perhaps you share a common goal of including more women or minorities in the STEM fields. Maybe you’re especially concerned about environmental destruction or global warming. Conduct as much research on the organization as you can, and try to find other projects they’ve funded in the past for clues on what typically works well in an application.
4. Be persistent.
If an application is declined, try again somewhere else. Take some time to review and reevaluate. Is there an area that you feel could benefit from a few changes? Possibly have a peer read through the details and offer their opinion. If you find yourself puzzling over why a proposal was rejected, politely reach out and ask. The answer could provide valuable information on how to proceed in future applications for STEM grants.
Be aware of any deadlines set by a potential sponsor and always follow the directions outlined in their proposal guidelines. Ready to start filling out applications? Check out our list of top educational STEM grants here.