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!