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Achieve Grant Success

Grant Tips from the Programs Manager

The application process to receive grants or to participate in school food reform projects can be overwhelming and sometimes disappointing. But with some good advice, you can achieve grant success!

Our Programs Manager, Emily Gallivan, compiled a list of tips and tricks to share with you to make sure that you submit strong applications that help you get the funding and resources you need to improve your district’s meal program. All kinds of grant submissions we receive pass by Gallivan’s desk, so get ready for some expert advice:

  • Make sure you can apply. The first and most important thing to do is read through all the grant requirements to make sure you qualify for the grant. You don’t want to waste time applying to grants you don’t even qualify for. If you read through the requirements and are not sure if you qualify, reach out to a grant manager. We are always happy to answer your questions.
  • Know what you want to achieve: Clearly define the goals you will achieve with your grant. Be concise, direct, and precise about what you will accomplish with the grant.
  • Know why you want to meet those goals: Now that you have clearly defined goals, draw a connection between them and your big picture departmental goals. Explain how this specific grant will influence your meal program long after the grant closes, which shows the funder how their dollar can have a lasting impact and demonstrates your concern for program sustainability.
  • Know how you will implement: Imagine that you have clearly defined goals, you related them to your department’s mission, you submit…and you get the grant! Don’t get stuck in a now what? situation. Think through the details of how you will achieve your goals, which serves two purposes: you signal to the funding organization that you have a plan for grant implementation, and you have a plan for grant implementation. With a plan in place, you will be more likely to get the grant, and then once you have it, you won’t be scrambling to meet your goals.
  • Budget correctly and thoroughly: Don’t let this part of the grant fall to the wayside. Budgets are where applicants often mistakes. If a budget is required, make sure to include all the necessary details. Also, make sure all of your numbers are correct; don’t miss out on a great grant opportunity because you inserted the wrong number in a budget, misplaced formulas, or did the math incorrectly. Check it, have someone else check it, and check it again before submitting.
  • Garner support before you submit: Once you have clearly defined goals, relate them to your long-term departmental goals, and know how you will implement the grant, make sure you share this plan with your Superintendent and other key administrators and get their support. There’s nothing worse than receiving a grant to learn that you can’t implement it. We require a signature from Superintendents and Food Service Directors on all of our applications to ensure you already have a support team in place.
  • Submit on time: This one might seem obvious, but make sure you can submit on time. For some grants, deadlines are firm, and you cannot submit even a minute after the due date. Set your target delivery date for a few days ahead of the official due date and stick to it. That way if any last minute surprises come along, you can be sure that grant will still get submitted on time.

Grants are a great opportunity for districts to get additional funding and resources to increase scratch cooking in their meal programs. Look for grants that meet your specific needs, from getting equipment or marketing materials to providing educational programming. We offer all kinds of grants too! Check out the Programs & Grants page to stay up to date on when grants open and what you can achieve for your program.

Bonus tip: once you get your grant, you might be asked to submit evaluations, feedback, or some kind of report on your grant implementation. Don’t be shy! These communications are an excellent opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your funder. Share powerful quotes from all kinds of participants: students, teachers, parents, food service staff, administrators—anyone connected to the grant in some way—can share their story and provide meaningful feedback. Also, don’t forget that pictures are worth 1,000 words! Take good photos and share them with your funder too. They will remember your success, be proud to share your achievements, and will remember you positively.


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