How to write grant requests

When applying for a grant, you must realistically consider whether your project and the grant-maker are a good fit. Bear in mind that grant-makers can get hundreds of applications for every grant they make.

Organizations such as Guidestar offer resource lists for grant writers. Here are some general tips: 1) Follow the directions outlined by the grantor carefully. Each grant-maker is different. 2) Make sure you are a solid fit under the eligibility criteria. 3) Research your topic thoroughly so you can explain your project in a larger context. 4) Be clear about what you would do and what impact you believe that would cause among the “target population.” 5) Be sure your timeline and budget are practical. 6) Always seek funds from more than one source.

Activities for students at three levels:

Flashlight: Have students read philanthropist Vince Stehle’s interview and see the video. Students should come to class ready to each pitch an idea: What sorts of projects would you love to see happen? What would help your community? How would you pitch the idea to try for funding?

Searchlight: A research project: Look at the web site of the philanthropic group Media Impact Funders. What major foundations fund journalism and media projects? Find some interesting projects among those funded. Do you think they will help journalism? How? Blog about your favorite grant, explaining why you chose that one.

Spotlight: Does your library have a subscription to The Foundation Center database? If you can, use it to design a project that might be eligible for a grant. Choose the foundation that seems right for that project. In a class presentation, explain why you see a good fit.

Extra credit: Frontline draws the highest ratings on public television for its enterprising in-depth reports. See this series of clips from its documentary on Internet relationships. Imagine you were a grant writer seeking funds for a classroom program to increase exposure for this series. What foundations would you target, and why? How would you shape your pitch?