Zorro Writes a Grant

What are the primary elements of grant writing? [[[[preparation, self-reflection, bragging]]]]]

It has always seemed to me that “grant writing” is something of a misnomer (like football here in the States). Quid pro quo, Clarice: “What is the first and foremost quality of a successful grant request?” I’ll give you a hint — it’s not magnificent prose that the grant reader mulls over like a nice chianti.

It’s preparation. What are your figures? How can you quantify your success? How can you account for every dollar you’ve spent? How you can show that you’re meeting a need — and how can you show the existence of that need in the first place? So grant writing should probably be called grant request preparation, it being the primary element.

Other elements? Bragging! (I’m sure there’s a better word for it, one without negative connotations, but the coffee is failing my internal lexicon at the moment!) It’s just like what we’re told about resumes — don’t be afraid to talk  yourself up!

What questions are raised for you as you review these samples?

I’m answering the questions out of order (what a rebel!!) simply because I think the first question lends itself to these thoughts, and reading the information requested on the samples gave me these thoughts.

So, bragging is considering one’s strengths and talking them up. This means, of course, that one will have to be reflective about one’s strengths. Naturally, this will also force the consideration of weaknesses; thus, a question brought by the samples is “What [am I/is my organization] doing to show effectiveness? Are the results worth the effort?” When I tell someone what we’re doing — offering troubled/underserved individuals a chance to improve their own personal efficacy via increased literacy, specifically writing — it sounds incredibly worthwhile. But the issue is with aligning our mission with the funders’ missions, and many of these grants ask “What is the benefit to the community” (or some similar question). Well, frankly, as I see it the benefit to the community at large is indirect and secondary: we’re serving individuals, in the hopes of integrating them into the community, thus bettering the community. (I’d be happy to hear dissent on this.) Of course, these people are community members, so the counter-argument is that we are bettering the community by extension, and I can see things that way, too.

[This is of course in no way a belittling, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way. I’m trying to approach a difficult topic raised by the foundations in their grant applications — why, among so many projects, should this project be funded? I hope the honesty is appreciated.]

What formats/terminology seems unfamiliar?

Nothing sticks out, but this is because I have tangential experience with grant writing. (Tangential, mind you.)

What kinds of funding could help your own site? Spend some time thinking about the role that grant writing might play in supporting your community literacy work.

Resources, resources, resources. Resources in the form of materials and snacks for the guys. Resources in the form of media — computers with internet access, hardware/software for making raps (they have some access to this, depending on whether the machine works), audio equipment for listening to and comparing canonical works with modern hip hop. Resources in the form of special guests.


One response to this post.

  1. Thank you for a practical reflection. I have been caught up in a bit of existential woe–that time of the semester–and I appreciate your ideas!


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