5 things to know about science grants (and 9 steps to win one)

Things to know about science grants

Of course you’d love to win a science grant and get free stuff for your students. But you don’t know what it takes to win one and don’t have the time to find out. Well, if you have four minutes to finish reading this post, all that can change. Applying for funding can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before, but don’t forget, foundations are required by federal law to give money away. They want your application. They need your application. So let’s go get that grant!

1 – Where are all these grants, anyway?

The best way to find grants is to start locally, for a couple of reasons. First, local grants often have fewer contenders for available funds. Second, national foundations like to see evidence that you have support in your community when they award grants, so winning a local grant could be a stepping stone to winning a national one. Your local community foundation is a great place to start. Just pop “community foundations” into your search engine or head over to the Community Foundation Locator from the Council on Foundations to find one in your area. The program officer can help you find the right funder.

Other places to find grants:

  • Big box hardware, department or grocery stores, and national corporations that have a presence in your community often have funding that’s only available at the local level. Give them a ring to ask.
  • Websites like GetEdFunding (free) and GrantGopher (small monthly subscription fee) offer grant searches and email alerts on available grants, personalized by your areas of interest.
  • College and university libraries and local public libraries often have subscriptions to grant services available for public use.

2 – Project over process

Winning a grant isn’t only about writing a great application (although that helps). It’s about designing a great project. Creating a winning project boils down to three words: inputs, activities, and outcomes. Your inputs are the resources you have and resources you need. Activities are your lessons, laboratories, field trips – anything you’ll be doing with your inputs to achieve change. And your outcomes are the specific benefits, changes, or improvements your project will create. Linking the inputs, activities, and outcomes together shows funders you have a clear and focused project.

3 – What’s the why?

Funders today aren’t interested in buying beakers and test tubes. They want to change lives. So if you’re considering applying for a grant, think about what your students need and why they need it. Articulate the changes you want to see as a result of your project – changes in knowledge, attitude, behavior, skills, anything that will be better after your project than it was before. Be concrete and specific so funders will know exactly what’s going to happen and what success will look like.

Our Project Design Worksheet can help you build the kind of project funders love. 

4 – The elevator pitch

Imagine you’re face-to-face with the CEO of a foundation that could award your school a grant. After you exchange pleasantries, you’re asked to describe your project. What happens in the next 30 seconds can make or break your chances. Not likely to happen, of course, but thinking about what you might say is a great exercise in distilling your project into a 30-second story that motivates people to learn more and contribute. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. We have a worksheet for that too. 

5 – We’re always here for you

Ward’s Science offers no obligation, complimentary funding and grant services to districts, schools, and teachers. You’ll get one-on-one assistance designing a project and writing an application that’s more likely to win. We've helped over 1,000 educators win over $5 million in science funding since 2012 – and we can help you too. Head over to our Grant Services page, look at some available grants, or contact our staff to get started today.

Of course, if you’d like to get a head start, check out our Winning a Grant in 9 Steps Worksheet. When you’re done filling it out, you’ll have compiled most of the detail you need for a grant application. 

Good luck!

If you have any questions about funding and grants or anything else, just ask the Ward’s Science Plus Us team at sciencehelp@vwr.com. Our in-house scientists and technicians are ready to answer even the toughest inquiries.

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