My adventures in grant writing began 7 years ago. It started with a dream to add a tech-inspired woodworking program to my school-based practice, knowing the money had to come from outside sources. I adopted a divide and conquer strategy, asking a parent’s club for money needed to purchase a CNC router and writing a grant for $2,500 to cover start-up supplies. Sales from items using the router and existing lathes were applied to a laser engraver, vinyl cutter, 10 needle CNC embroidery machine and commercial sandblaster. Our urban farm expanded from a single donated hyrdoponics set-up to 24 cubic feet of grow space with an aquaponics system using tilapia as a fuel source for fresh herbs and greens. Plastic trays self-care trays for worm breeding expanded to included kickstarter funded automated insect hives and a small wooden box with European night crawlers expanded to include a commercial worm composting bin. Any OT practitioner who can document in a clearly expressed manner can successfully write grants.
6 tips to consider when tackling a grant application
- BE specific: Grant applications often request a 2-3 word title that sums up your project. If you can’t narrow your idea to 2-3 words consider the possibility that your idea is too broad.
- BE unique: Look up past award winners to see how your idea compares to the competition.
- BE concise: Grants have word limits. Copy and paste into grant application to control word count.
- BE realistic: Understand you will need to implement the plan. Keep the dream in check. Grant spending can be audited. Good idea to have your business office set up a separate account for grant funds with assigned account numbers. This becomes really helpful when you have multiple grants to manage simultaneously.
- BE sustainable: Adding a micro-enterprise component or pre-determined plan for on-going support of the project will increase the likelihood of being funded. Have a plan for funding across time. A plan is often required for initial funding.
- BE passionate: Love the project or it will likely fail over time.
The power of data:
Use existing statistics and data to your advantage. For school-based OT’s: income level, health statistics, reduced/free lunch stats, and discipline referrals. For OT’s outside of school setting: falls, restraints, admission and discharge statistics, level of disengagement.
Actual Grants for OT’s:
These are several grants offered by corporations and foundations friendly to OT’s. The more you do, the easier it gets, I promise!
https://www.farmers.com/thank-americas-teachers/ This one is for teachers….so I wrote the grant and collaborated with a teacher. Put her name on top and it was a win-win!
As you get started think about your facility and isolate a problem to fix. Think beyond enriching OT clients and your OT department. Think about ways you can alter the culture of your workplace and community. Consider the larger impact of the grant!
Incorporating public transportation into OT sessions can provide a treasure trove of OT rich activities addressing sensory awareness and processing, pre-vocational exploration, and the opportunity to tap into the many motor and cognitive demands needed to function outside of a structured school environment. Also worth mentioning is the added freedom from having to rely on district funds for off-campus trips.
Here are some tips for school-based OT’s thinking about taking your OT show on the road! For parents of children and young adults without special needs, public transportation can be a good option for providing built in exercise, helping the environment, and developing street smarts! https://www.treehugger.com/health/3-surprising-health-benefits-linked-public-transportation.html
5 tips for planning your OT session using public transportation:
Justify and truly understand the therapeutic relevance of the trip by connecting lessons with uniform terminology. http://agescota.com/ot/ut.pdf Endless opportunities here: Visually scanning schedule for times and bus routes, time management skills and strategies for timing the walk to the stop and getting back to the stop on time, filtering auditory and visual distractions when on the bus to locate landmarks/destination, and activity tolerance.
- Trips in the community can be graded based on age and goals for the trip. For younger students counting coins, crossing the street, and visually scanning the environment for landmarks. For older students, loading a bicycle onto the rack mechanism, planning for single or multiple transfers, reading a map, allowing enough time for the older student to miss a stop and safely problem solve the way back with supervision and support.
- Review safety, expectations, etiquette, and the notable differences between riding a school bus and public bus. Adding soft skill development is an added bonus when using public transportation. Waiting for others to exit the bus before getting on, giving up a seat for an elderly passenger, moving to make accommodations to secure a wheelchair (there may be several seats in the front that need to be raised to make room for wheelchairs). Have money, student ID’s, and reduced-fare passes ready.
- Plan for several pre-trip sessions to prepare for the big day to discuss things to expect, plan the trip, print schedules.
- Take the extra time to give students money to carry and deposit, combining money management and fine motor skills.