• Grants: The Nitty-Gritty of Grant Applications

    Mike Lawson | October 22, 2006

    In the January 2003 edition, School Band and Orchestra surveyed band and orchestra directors about the process of applying for grants. By far, the top reason directors cited for not applying for grants was the time-consuming hassle of the application process. The aggravation, for many, just wasn’t worthwhile for what is oftentimes a small reward – and that reward is by no means guaranteed. The number-two reason directors refrained from applying for grants was that they felt there were too many “hoops” to jump through to fulfill the grant application requirements.

    To find out more, SBO checked out a few music-related grant programs to see how much work goes into the application process.

    For a Specific Population

    SBO came across a grant program offered by the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education ( Administered on behalf of the National Education Association, the NEA Foundation offers a Fine Arts Grant Program – 10 grants, each in the amount of $2,000 – to fine arts teachers for the purpose of implementing fine arts programs that “promote learning among students at risk of school failure.” The grants fund activities for 12 months from the date of the reward.

    Right off the bat, many directors will probably not be eligible for this grant award because they do not serve an at-risk population. For those teachers who do qualify, there are other requirements listed under “Eligibility” that must check out: the arts teacher must also be a member of the National Education Association teaching in a U.S. public secondary school. The funds are intended for resource materials, supplies, equipment, transportation, software and/or professional fee, and may not be used to pay indirect costs, grant administration fees or salaries or for lobbying or religious purposes. Also, “a majority of the funds may not be used to engage an artist-in-residence.”

  • SBOSurvey: Fundraising

    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    One of the biggest challenges facing music educators is securing adequate funding for their program. Upcoming performances, projects, and trips all come at a price and oftentimes even the costs associated with the “basics,” such as instrument acquisition and maintenance, exceed the allotted school budget.

    Music directors turn to fundraising as a means to subsidize their programs, choosing from a wide array of options and approaches available – the trick is selecting the strategy that best matches a given course’s needs.

    SBO recently contacted over 1,200 of our readers to learn what fundraising methods have been meeting with success, how fundraising compares to outright requests for donations, and if there are any new trends that are making an impact.

  • Fundraising Strategies

    Mike Lawson | August 1, 2003

    When money is short, taking out-of-state trips with a large group of students is a tall order for music directors. As big-ticket expenses pile up, fundraising is oftentimes the only option – and there are many fundraising options available. The trick is finding the right fit for the program’s needs: How much time and legwork are involved? How appealing are the products/services to the community/buyers? How much profit will the fundraiser yield – and is it worth the effort expended?

    To guide music educators through the process of finding the right fundraising campaign for their program, SBO offers a sampling of fundraising companies – sorted by category – that work with school programs every day. These Web sites offer product information and details on profitability. Several sites include charts to explain the profit margin of each fundraising activity.

  • Are Grants Worth the Effort?

    Mike Lawson | January 1, 2003

    Even the most ambitious fundraising campaigns can sometimes leave a music program short. When that happens, music directors have another option available to them: applying for grants to supplement their programs. Fundraising itself is an often stressful and time-consuming practice. And, many directors agree, so is the process of applying for grants. Does the effort expended yield enough of a reward in the end?

    In a recent SBO Survey, 60 percent of participating band and orchestra directors said they have applied for a grant to support their music programs at least once in their careers. The other 40 percent have never applied for a grant. But 65 percent said they plan to apply for a grant in the future, while 21 percent said they would not and 14 percent were undecided.

    The time-consuming nature and the hassle of grant-writing topped the list of reasons directors would not apply for grant funding, according to the survey. Fifty-eight percent of the survey participants reported that the time required to write lengthy pleas for additional funding is a discouraging factor. Thirty-two percent said they find it challenging to “jump through the hoops” required by many grant-makers.


    Mike Lawson | January 1, 2002

    In addition to teaching, music educators often find themselves saddled with a variety of other responsibilities that are time-consuming, but very important to the prosperity of their programs. One of those tasks is grant-writing. When extra funding is needed to pursue a special project outside the day-to-day operation of the music program (above and beyond fundraising efforts), many directors turn to grant-makers for financial support. But the process is complicated, and every grant opportunity has a sea of applicants vying for attention.

    Getting Started
    When writing a grant proposal, it is important to have a clear definition of the project in need of funding. Otherwise, determining prospective sources of funding will be very difficult. The Congressional Research Service recommends envisioning the project from the perspective of the potential grant-maker to determine its viability. The Service also suggests contacting recipients of the grants in question for insight into the recipients’ experiences with the grant-making organization.

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