HOW TO WRITE A GRANT PROPOSAL

 

We’re pleased that our three Intricate Minds videos are now being successfully used in schools across the United States, Canada and Australia to help classmates understand and support students who have Asperger Syndrome and related conditions.

Because these videos have proven to be so effective, they are perfect elements to include in grant proposals associated with autism awareness and anti-bullying programs.  With that in mind, we’ve come up with the following tips to assist school personnel who wish to apply for grants that would include funds to purchase our videos.  Support groups may also wish to consider applying for funds to purchase the videos and donate them to schools or other organizations.

Grant Proposal Writing Tips

  • Set specific goals.  What do you want to accomplish?  For example, you might want to help every child in grades 4-12 in your school system become more tolerant and understanding of classmates who have Asperger Syndrome or other Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  • Think about ways to accomplish your goal.  This might include a one-period program of class instruction that would reach every student.  In this program, a teacher could introduce the session with appropriate materials, show one of the Intricate Minds videos, then lead a class discussion using a provided discussion guide.  Students in higher grades could receive the instruction in their homeroom or in a health class.

  • Seek out grants that could help you accomplish your goals.  Such grants could be offered by federal or state governments, by autism-related organizations or foundations.  You also can go to major company websites and search for headings such as “Foundation,” “Contributions,” or “Philanthropy.” Think broadly when searching for grants.  For example, you might find a grant from the Department of Justice intended for gang behavior prevention that covers anti-bullying and could apply to your need.  The website www.grants.gov in a good source of grant information. (Be sure you to type “.gov” and not “.com” or “.org”).  Another good resource is the Foundation Center at www.foundationcenter.org. Your school or public librarian also can be helpful in finding sources for grants.  You can call your local public library and ask if it has a Non-Profit Resource Center.  This section of a library is an excellent “one-stop-shopping” place to gather information on organizations and the type of grants they offer. CAUTION: if you do an Internet search for grants, you’re likely to find lots of organizations interested in charging you money to provide lists of grants that you can apply for or to write your grant for you. Many of these offers are likely to be rip-offs.  I’d avoid them and do your own research and writing.

  • Research specific grants and their grant-writing requirements.  Some organizations require that you apply online through their websites.  Others have fixed formats that you’ll need to follow to be seriously considered. 

  • Look at the mission and goals of the organization that is offering the grant.  Write your proposal in a way that describes how your project would help the organization achieve its stated goals.  You’re not just “asking for money,” you’re explaining how you’ll use their funding to accomplish objectives that you share with their organization.

  •  Research what projects an organization has funded in the past.  These are often listed on organization’s websites.

  • As you write your proposal, put a timeline together so you can plan out what needs to be done at each stage before you can move to the next stage.  This will help you make realistic plans to complete your project on time and within your budget.

  • Consider what you have the expertise and capacity to do within your organization and what tasks you will need to outsource.  Get realistic cost and time estimates for any work you need to outsource.

  •  Write clearly and persuasively.  You need to write in a way designed to make the people reading your proposal as enthusiastic about your project as you are.  Be specific about what you can accomplish with their funding.  It’s particularly effective to offer practical ways that you plan to measure your results.  For example, you might choose to survey students before your awareness program to assess their attitude toward classmates who think and act differently and their knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Then you can survey them again after your presentations.

  • Write convincingly about your ability to deliver what you propose.  Ability is often described as “capacity” in grant proposals.  Your proposal should show your project is an excellent fit for your organization and a natural extension of your overall mission.

  • While grant applications can vary widely, here are some of the categories that are routinely included:

    Executive Summary.  While this is usually the first part of a grant application, it’s usually written last, when you have all the information you need to write a crisp, compelling overview.

    Statement of Need.  In this section, you’ll describe a situation that needs changing and what changes you plan to make.  Cover any appropriate background, the current situation, and describe specifically how things will change for the better as a result of your proposed project.

    Mission Statement.  Explain why your organization exists and describe the focus of the programs and services it provides.

    Vision Statement.  Describe what the part of the world you’re trying to change will look like when your organization achieves it objectives.  Think of it this way, “We see a world in which…”  Your mission is what you’re trying to do.  Your vision is what the world will look like when your mission is successful.

    Management Team and Competencies.  Describe the people who will be working on your project and their individual qualifications.

    Project Description. This is the heart of your proposal.  Remember that Statement of Need?  This is where you describe what you are going to do to meet that need and make things better.

    Project Evaluation. This is all about measurement.  Describe how you will measure your results and show that your project was successful – and worth the funding provided.  Remember that being able to demonstrate your success can help you attain more grants in the future.

    Organization Budget/Financial Statements.  You may be asked to provide financial information about your organization.

    Project Budget: Provide a well-thought out explanation of the funding you need and how it will be allocated.  Be realistic and consider all the costs you will incur. Demonstrate that the funding organization will be getting an excellent return for their investment in your project. 

    Other attachments.  Different funding organization will have different requirements. Be prepared to review them and provide what they ask for.

  • When you complete your grant proposal, share it with some friends or colleagues.  If they have questions about what you meant to say in certain sections, rewrite those sections so they are easy to understand on first reading.  Remember, your proposal has to persuade on its own.  You won't be there to explain what you meant. 

Included below is information you can customize to suit your needs and include in your grant proposals.

Information to Include in Your Statement of Need

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released data in 2009 estimating that about 1 in 100 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  (More detailed information is available on the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

You can explain that this CDC finding confirms the rising incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders that you’ve experienced in your school system.  Give statistics on the number of students you have whose parents have disclosed a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome or similar high functioning autism condition.  Point out that in many cases, AS and similar conditions go undiagnosed or disclosed, so the number of students with these conditions is surely higher that the “diagnosis” numbers indicate. 

Explain that students who have Asperger Syndrome and similar Autism Spectrum Disorders appear just like classmates in many ways, which makes their differences hard for classmates to accept and understand.  Students with these conditions can be highly intelligent and have superior abilities in some areas, but they routinely have trouble with crucial social interactions with classmates and teachers.  Classmates may think, “he’s an ‘A’ student, he should be able to make eye contact or understand not to butt in on someone else’s conversation.”  But, because his or her brain processes information differently, the student with AS may not be able to easily maintain eye contact because it causes sensory overload. The student may not intuitively understand how to enter a conversation.  These social deficits frequently make students with AS and similar conditions a target for teasing and harassment.

This ill treatment keeps students with these conditions from learning important social skills they will need in the workplace and can leave lifelong emotional scars.  The situation is also detrimental for classmates, who are not learning important tolerance and cooperation skills necessary in an increasingly diverse global workplace.

It would be helpful here to give examples of the problems you have experienced in your school and how they have negatively affected both students on the autism spectrum and their classmates.

Information to Include in Your Project Description

Describe the overall project and details about how it will be prepared and executed.

You might choose to hire a psychologist experienced in Asperger Syndrome and other high functioning autism conditions to train teachers who will present a program in classes that would be seen by every student in each school.  The program could include a short introduction by the teacher, showing the “Intricate Minds: Understanding Classmates with Asperger Syndrome” video and then a class discussion, led by the teacher.

You can mention that this Intricate Minds video (designed for students in middle through high school) has been endorsed by autism experts such as Dr. Daniel Rosenn at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fred Volkmar at Yale University and Dr. Brenda Smith Myles of the University of Kansas.  The video has also been highly recommended by the School Library Journal.  The other two Intricate Minds videos, for elementary school students, have also received praise.

These links on the Coulter Video website offer a range of positive reviews and endorsements you can include as support for your proposal:  http://www.coultervideo.com/intmindsreview.htm

http://www.coultervideo.com/intmindsIIreviews.htm

You can describe how you would do research and prepare original, customized materials for presentations.  Or, you may choose to use grant funds to purchase an existing program with sample lesson plans, discussion guides and other materials.  For example, The Anne Arundel County Public School System in Maryland, USA has developed an Autism and Asperger Syndrome awareness guide for elementary schools.  This guide recommends the purchase and use of Coulter Video's "INTRICATE MINDS III: Understanding Elementary School Classmates Who Think Differently" in presentations to students. The guide is called, "Building Bridges - A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Supporting Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism in the Classroom."  The school system plans to make information about the package available on its website (www.aacps.org) on or about November 21, 2008.  If you’re interested, you can also contact Laura Phipps by email atLphipps1@AACPS.org.

Conclusion

We’ve seen our Intricate Minds videos make a tremendous difference in schools.  The ASPEN organization purchased 1,000 copies of “Intricate Minds: Understanding Classmates with Asperger Syndrome” and donated a copy to every school district in New Jersey, where ASPEN is based.  You can find the ASPEN website online at: www.aspennj.org.

One of our most gratifying responses to the video came from a middle school in New Jersey.  After his school held an assembly led by a psychologist, who showed the “Intricate Minds: Understanding Classmates with Asperger Syndrome” video, life changed dramatically for a student with Asperger Syndrome.  Even though he had not been identified in the assembly, classmates now recognized the reason for his symptoms and behaviors.  Students who had mistreated him apologized.  They invited him to sit with them at lunch and included him in games on the playground, making allowances for the fact that he was not very coordinated or skilled at playground games.  Understanding generated compassion that benefited both this student and his classmates.

You can find more information about our Intricate Minds videos on our website, beginning on our products page: http://www.coultervideo.com/products.htm.  We also offer a DVD titled, “Asperger Syndrome: Success In The Mainstream Classroom,” which is designed for teachers and other school staff.  This video could also be an important part of an awareness program.

If you’d like to visit with us about a possible purchase of our videos to use in an Asperger Syndrome/autism awareness program, you can reach us at 336-608-4224.

Copyright Coulter Video  2010

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