How to write a grant

(Excludes Education Support Professionals and Higher Education Faculty Professional Development grants, and the National Board Certified Teachers Scholarship)

Step 1

Read the application and read it again. Note any questions you have about the application process, and either call or write the grant administrator to get your questions answered. You can contact the Education Minnesota Foundation Director, Dayonna Knutson, at 800-652-9073 or 651-292-4834.

Step 2

Team up! Proposals with many stakeholders involved are more likely to be funded because they are more likely to succeed. Consider educator colleagues, parents, students, administrators and community members for your team. When it comes to brainstorming and planning, more input will help you be more creative.

Be sure to actively decide who will be the grant coordinator – the person ultimately responsible for getting the application in on time, following up and managing the project when awarded. Remember to discuss how what you learn can be useful to others. Consider ways to include them in the actual learning process. Identify your team members on the application’s Data Sheet.

Step 3

Brainstorm your idea for a project with this question as a central focus: What do you need and why do you need it?Researching this idea and having discussions about it will focus your efforts on your needs. Discussions with colleagues may open up new ideas and avenues to explore to answer this question also. If you have determined that your proposal at this time will go only to the Education Minnesota Foundation, go to Step 5. If you hope to seek funds from multiple sources, this next tip is for you.

Step 4

Shop around and “try out” different funders. Online searches can be helpful if you can focus your search. A good site to try in the education area is, where you will find leads to many foundations and other information on grant writing and federal offerings.

As you start searching, you will find that there are too many possibilities, so begin to narrow the possible funders by matching their mission with your goal, needs and objectives. When you find a potential “match,” learn everything you can about them. Get a copy of their annual report, descriptions of former awards and projects, and the RFP, or request for proposal. Get to know the office staff with a brief introductory call, perhaps to clarify a question you have.


(Reminder: Have you contacted your local/affiliate president?)

Step 5

Ready to write? With application and directions at your side, prepare your first draft. Remember to answer the questions as asked. No more, no less.

If you are working with a team and all agree to prepare different parts of the application, designate one chief writer to ensure that there is a consistent writing style. This person should be able to answer questions about the application, if any arise. For the Education Minnesota Foundation, carefully follow the Do and Don’t lists. Be sure to have someone edit for grammar, style and content. Can a non-educator understand what you hope to do? Don’t use jargon.

Step 6

Prepare your budget. Charts, spreadsheets and tables are easier to read than paragraphs. If you can’t do it, get help!

Follow the application directions precisely. For the Education Minnesota Foundation, a simple chart or table that includes closely approximated costs and likely vendors is adequate. Requesting additional funds from your district, community, etc. is viewed as a plus by this Foundation because we believe that many stakeholders make for a more successful project. We also require that you verify any additional funding you receive if we award you a grant. Please also not any in-kind items on your budget sheet.

If exact cost, applicable taxes and precise vendor information are requested, you must supply them. In a budget chart, you may need to include any other funds you have received, applied for or will apply for; these are called matching funds or contributions (non-monetary, e.g., volunteer time or donated materials). You may be required to write additional, narrative explanations.

And, lastly, check your figures. Do not make a request for more (or less) than the stated limits.

Approved Classroom Grant sample budget: Addressing the problem of bullying in middle school

Items, Services Total Request Education
Minnesota Foundation
Our Town
Our School
120 books, 2 teacher's guides, 2 Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain, 2 The Wrecker $1,270 $1270  
Markers, flipcharts, name tags, VHS tapes, colored paper $200 $200  
Consultation Healthy Community Kids, Healthy Kids, Excel Spreadsheet $900 $900 In-kind Service
Artist $500   $500  
Artist materials      
Consult teacher (also licensed as psychologist     In-kind Service
iBook with PowerPoint, digital movie camera, Technical Support from building and district specialists                 In-kind Service
Miscellaneous mailing      In-kind Service
Total request         $2,870       

Step 7

Details, details. Re-read your application and then submit it in the manner required. Do not send more than one copy. Personally take it to the post office and get a receipt or keep. If emailing, make sure to set up a request of receipt or ask for a confirmation email. All applicants should receive an email confirmation that their application has been received. If you did not, email the Education Minnesota Foundation at

If an award date is specified and you have not heard anything within two to three weeks of that date, you might want to email or call the contact person.

If you are selected for an award, it makes a good impression if you send a handwritten thank-you to the director. If you are not selected, it is okay to email asking for suggestions for improving your application and asking if you are eligible to re-apply.


The Education Minnesota Foundation will review grant applications not awarded and provide suggestions for improvement, at your request.