MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 18, 2013

Uniqueness, need keys to grants

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Effective grant applications need to hook donors by citing a program’s uniqueness and need, successful grant-writers say.

Muskogee Public Schools officials are working to ensure each of  its eight elementary schools has equal opportunity to get outside grants. Officials adopted a resolution capping the amount of outside money an elementary school gets to $175,000 a year.

However, it takes a good grant application to get these funds. Several Muskogee schools have teachers or administrators who know how to write a good one.

Gina Batie’s name has been on several successful grants over the past two years.

“I’m a librarian, so I look for grants specific for libraries,” said Batie, media specialist at Harris-Jobe Elementary School. “Since Harris-Jobe is the smallest elementary in Muskogee, our funding is less. By writing grants, we can supplement what we are not able to purchase for our library.”

Over the past two years, Batie has received four grants from the Muskogee Education Foundation. In 2013, she received a $500 grant for “BioGRAPHical Novels,” and  $736 for “Encore: Back for More: Common Core Literature and the Library Media Center.” In 2012, she received an $866 grant for “Cloudy with a Chance of Learning” and a $704 grant for “En ‘Core’ Common Core Informational Text & the Library Media Center”.

She also helped principal Kim Fleak write the application for a $51,303 grant Harris-Jobe received from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to build a fitness and nature trail in 2012.

“We began as teachers brainstorming a grant idea and she (Fleak) and I did the rest,” Batie said, calling grant-writing a “very collaborative effort.”

“You’re not on your own,” she said, recalling how she sought help from expert grant-writers when she started seeking funding.

Creek Elementary Principal Rick Hoos said one key to a successful grant application is to “listen to what the foundation’s requirements are.”

He said fifth-grade teacher Beverly Boyer is prolific at writing grants.

Boyer stressed being thorough.

“Everyone needs to answer every question,” she said.

Alice Robertson Junior High choir director Shalyn Gallaway said she’s made sure donors were aware of a project’s need. That’s how she was able to help the school receive a $90,509 grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to renovate AR’s stage. The renovation included new curtains, lights, video projector and sound system.

Sadler Arts Academy Principal Ronia Davison said a project must have “a meaningful purpose that would help a high number of students succeed.”

“You have to have a hook, make it easy to understand for the reader,” Davison said.

A unique approach also helps, Sadler eighth-grade teacher Georgie Chapuis said. She said she’s looked for projects that enabled her to “teach something in a different way.”

“This year we made costumes,” she said

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.