It’s summer and school leaders across the nation are working on plans to keep their students safe this coming school year, but there is a common problem; they simply need more money to be able to do so. Not surprisingly, the demand for school safety funding far exceeds the available supply of grant dollars.
The purpose of school safety funding is to enable schools to secure the needed equipment, services and technology to protect students from violence, weapons, threats, bullying and harassment. The physical protection is only part of the school safety puzzle; the emotional effect of a threat can be as strong, if not stronger, than that of the physical threat. If students or staff do not feel safe coming to school, they are placed in an environment that does not support learning.
Some school districts do not have the opportunity to apply for state and/or federal funding. However, it’s important to carefully plan for upcoming grant opportunities through a grant calendar, planning meetings and research before the actual grant competition starts. Often, there is a short window to complete the entire grant application. Competition is strong since school safety is such a priority for schools and school districts. What are grant funders looking for? How do you get the funding? How do you stand out in the crowd? Below I explore tasks, tips and best practices for getting these important programs funded by school safety grants.
Do These Two Things Ahead of Writing
Before you begin your grant application, it is important for you to read about past funded grant projects. Noting common qualities among previously funded projects can offer hidden insights into the funder’s mindset in determining which applicants are likely to be awarded.
It is also important for you to do your research about school safety vocabulary. There is a big difference between a planned attack at a school versus a violent act in the community that spills over into the school environment, such as those requiring a lock down or “shelter in place.” Make sure you understand terms such as hardened schools, active shooter, targeted violence, mass casualty incident, armed assault, intrusion, larceny, burglary and robbery to ensure you use them correctly in grant proposals.
Follow These Five Persuasive Writing Tips
As you start writing, you must be compelling. The needs section must grab the reader’s attention immediately.
- Aim for the reviewer to feel compelled to fund your project without any lingering doubts. Answer all the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, how. Address potential shortfalls the grant team may have discussed during planning sessions.
- Tell a story about the people you serve; include valid and reliable statistics.
- Use research three years old or less, unless its classic research accepted over time or there is no current evidence available.
- Ensure all community or organizational needs you include in the grant narrative are addressed in the project design.
- Gut check it: Can someone who knows nothing about your organization or topic pick up the proposal and run the same project on their own based on the information you provide?
Include Key School Safety Topics
Here are some important topics to include in your grant application to help your school get the funding it needs for school safety.
- Include the characteristics of your school – personal student stories if available, discipline data, police report summaries, local crime statistics, etc.
- Collaborate and coordinate with project partners such as police, fire departments, hospitals, military bases, FEMA, Homeland Security, airports, businesses and other emergency responders.
- The DOJ 2019 solicitation for the SVPP grant encourages applicants to “demonstrate a comprehensive approach to school safety,” which includes coordination between multiple schools, local law enforcement and other first responders.
- Training for local law enforcement officers to prevent school violence against others and self (based on specific SVPP grant solicitation)
- Acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency (based on specific SVPP grant solicitation)
- Hire School Resource Officers (SROs)
- Hire campus safety monitors
- Consider forming an Emergency Response Advisory Team if you don’t have one
- Evaluate & update your current emergency response plan
- Prepare students, families and staff for crisis incidents
- Use the FEMA National Incident Management System (NIMS) proactive approach to planning for emergencies
- Use this to plan for emergencies including the following components: command and management, resource management, communications and information management, preparedness, and continual management and maintenance. Describe how you will use these tools to plan and manage staff in the grant proposal.
- Anonymous reporting online or phone systems (i.e. Sandy Hook Promise free online system)
- Metal detectors
- Security cameras
- Emergency public address systems
- Emergency call boxes (aka Knox boxes)
- Bullet resistant glass
- Sally ports
- In place impenetrable shelters for classrooms
- Access card readers
Following the tips above will position you to better compete for limited funding and deliver a quality grant proposal. It is our duty as educators and grant professionals to support learning in every way possible, especially safety.
Read our previous advice on getting school safety grants funded:
About the Author
Dr. Judy Riffle owns Santa Cruz Grants & Consulting, LLC, and has raised over 18 million dollars for various schools, school districts, and nonprofits. Funded and managed grants include school formula grants such as Title I, Title IV, IDEA Basic, and Title III LEP. Funded competitive grants include: McKinney-Vento Supplemental Education for Homeless Children & Youth, State Tutoring, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, school improvement, CA Community Colleges Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation, New York Learning Technology, Arizona Pilot Program on School Emergency Readiness, USDA Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Program, Baptist Community Ministries, Safeway Foundation, Tucson Electric Power, Cox Charities, Del E. Webb Foundation, and Arizona Disabled Veteran Foundation. Dr. Riffle is a former teacher, education specialist, new teacher mentor, and administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education, and educational leadership. Besides being a member of the Grant Professionals Association, she also serves as Vice-President for the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Comme