One study showed that only about 40% of 3 and 4-year-olds in the US attended preschool.
As an early educator, you’re determined to improve this statistic and offer young children high-quality education. But, building the facility and play areas gets expensive in a hurry. How do you pay for it?
We’ve put together a quick guide with what you need to know about getting grants for early education centers. Keep reading to find out how you can get the money you need.
The Grant Lifecycle
The typical grant lifecycle has three main phases: the pre-funding phase, the award phase, and the post-award phase.
It can feel quite intimidating if you are just getting started with applying for grant funding. If you do not take the proper steps and actions when applying for funding, you’ll significantly decrease the likelihood that one will be awarded to you.
Determine Your Eligibility
Before you do anything else, it is important that you do the necessary research to find out if you or your organization are actually eligible to receive the grants you want to apply for.
Unfortunately, lots of people waste valuable time by applying for grants that they are not even able to get. For example, if you are part of a nonprofit organization, you must prove your nonprofit status.
More specifically, if you work with a nonprofit organization with a mission to help children connect with the outdoors, somebody in your organization will need to provide a copy of your 501(c)3 IRS Determination Letter when you send in your grant application.
That’s the bad news. But the good news is that there are many grant opportunities available! In fact, there are almost ninety thousand foundations that offer grants in the United States.
Is Your Organization Eligible for Early Education Grants?
If you don’t know where to start, look for grants from universities, schools, and Native American tribes that are located within your community. Just keep in mind that each organization will likely have its own unique requirements.
Identify Which Project You Need Funding For
If you, like most people, have various projects you are working on, identifying which projects to apply for funding for is a challenge in itself. Those who cannot decide which projects to pursue are less likely to receive grants.
Ideally, you should limit your focus to no more than two projects. If you need help deciding which project to pursue, there are several factors that you should consider.
Start by looking at your budget and business plans. Do you have any upcoming projects that are extremely important to you? Which projects need funding the most? How much funding do these projects need?
Another smart suggestion is focusing on projects that you are close to bringing to fruition.
Which Projects Should You Pursue?
Preschool programs aren’t cheap for parents. The average parent spends between $372 and $1100 a month per child! So, it’s important to offer great facilities for the children who attend.
Sometimes you run into a problem where you have too many projects that you want to do. This actually makes getting funding more difficult, unless you can narrow it down to one or two projects that you want to get education funding for.
Gather Your Team
It is extremely difficult to apply for grants on your own. This is especially true if you are planning on applying for school, education, or government grants.
It is essential that you get your team together as early in the process as you possibly can. You should consider including an executive director, your marketing team, and your program staff.
Establishing and having a team in place makes it easier for you to get the information that you need quickly and efficiently.
Even if these may not be the people who will actually write the grant, they will be capable of offering you valuable feedback and constructive criticism.
Your team can also provide assistance in planning out the details for your program. This will make your job a lot easier.
Get Your Important Documents in Order
Remember that every grant application is a bit different. But they will all require that you present certain documents. Obtaining these pieces of information long before the actual grant deadline will help you feel much more organized.
You are probably going to need to have a document that lists your board of directors. Be prepared to include their names and affiliations. You’ll also probably need an IRS 990 Tax Return, your program budget, and your audited financial statements.
Give Yourself Extra Time to Apply for Federal or State Grants
Unlike foundation grants, state and federal grants usually require more time and effort to write. But they also tend to yield greater revenue.
If you’re applying for government grants, there are a few registrations that you will need to make. Just keep in mind that it can take a very long time to submit these registrations. In some cases, people have to wait for several months for a government agency to send even a confirmation of application.
Research to Find the Perfect Funders
The best way to find ideal funders is by identifying organizations whose missions align with your purpose.
You can find the best government grants here. Even though it can be difficult to find the right foundation and corporate grants, there are various databases online that are extremely helpful. It’s important to note that governments are not the only source of grant funding. For example, the Academy of Dermatology awards grants of up to $8,000 to install permanent shade structures for outdoor locations.
Matching Grants to Projects
Not all grants work for every project you want to do. If you want to work on an outdoor classroom project, you should apply for grants that pertain to that kind of project. You can find online databases that help you search through all the grant funding options.
A Few of Our Favorite Grants (Near Us)
This list is current as of August 2022.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Look for organizations near you that keep updated lists of available grants, like this Ohio Grant Watch website.
Plan Out Your Project
An education grant proposal is much easier to write when you plan out your project in advance. Start by answering this question: who will benefit from your program? Identify how and why the lives of people will change once you bring your project to life.
It Takes a Big Heart to Shape Little Minds
Not everyone can teach children. It’s a tough job, but comes with a rewarding feeling when you see your students excel.
It takes time and effort to get approved for early education grants. But, with the help of your team, you can find the funding your school needs.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned everything you need to know about early education grants. If you have any questions about this article or if you’re looking for great playground and outdoor equipment for your school, contact us today!