Grant Writing Secret #2 – Use Their Words

We were all taught in English that you should not repeat the same words over and over again. We were taught that creativity was important. Well, creativity is important, but there is a balance between creativity and clarity. And for government grants, if your innovative idea is too far outside of what the grant is asking for, it will be rejected (even if it is a really good idea!)

One of the biggest things that you should do, is use the terminology that they have in the grant information. For instance, I am a firm believer that it makes a lot of sense in education to link traditional academics to practical skills (career technical education). This concept has had a lot of different names over time: applied academics, linked learning, integrated academics, etc. But I was writing a grant, and in the grant information they called it “Integrated Education and Training”, so I made sure I always used that terminology, even though internal to the school I knew that the term “linked learning” would probably be used. And you can always get the best of both worlds, by using both words, at least in the beginning, and then go to only using their words.

If I had used one of the other terminologies, the school had a chance of not being awarded the grant, because the grant readers might not have made the connection that “linked learning” was the same thing.

To get more tips and to get your questions answered, take one of my grant webinars. I’m offering one next week, on February 14, and one on February 28. Use the Coupon Code of JACOB30 to get $30 off. And if you haven’t yet read the first secret I shared yesterday, you can find it here.

P.S. – If my brief mention of teaching academics and career technical education together piqued your interest, I am having a webinar on February 21 about using Career Technical Education as a Vehicle for Academic Instruction. (And the same discount code works)

Grant Writing Secret #1 – Read the Rubric

I have had great success in my life with writing government grants, both state grants and federal grants. In fact, these grants have provided over a million dollars of funding to the various schools I have written them for.

So sometimes I’m asked about some of the secrets to writing a grant that will get funded. So to help those who are interested, I am giving a Webinar next week (February 14) on Education Grant Writing Strategies, and also on February 28 (And if you want a discount code, use JACOB30)

But since I know not everyone will be able to make the webinar, or wonder if it is worth the cost, I am going to be sharing some of the most important secrets here on LinkedIn. (I will of course go into a bit more detail in my webinar, and answer questions there)

So, here is the biggest and I would say the most important secret. All government grants will have something called a “rubric” (although they may not always use this term for it). It is usually at the very end of the grant’s information (sometimes called a Request for Proposal, or Request for Application, or Request for Funding…) The rubric tells you exactly how the grant applications will be judged.

This is GOLDEN. And critical. Because while most of the time, the information in the rest of the grant will match up to what’s in the rubric, in the end it is the rubric that the judges will use to grade the grant proposals. And I have often seen slight differences between what the rubric says and what the other parts of the grant say… And I know, that if I follow the rubric, I will have an edge on the other applicants, because many of them won’t even read the rubric, or will not be careful in fully following it.

Thoughts from the California Information Communication Technologies Industry Advisory Committee

I flew down to San Diego last night to participate in the Statewide Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Industry Advisory Committee.  It helped me to remember how important ICT education is.  We had a great group of folks at the meeting, with a lot of passion and experience in supporting the students of California to becoming our next generation of “computer nerds”.

But it also brought back to me, about how our education system isn’t keeping up and changing for the needs of our next generation.  Technology is our future, and of any industry sector (other than potentially energy), it is the use or abuse of technology will make the biggest difference to the future of human kind. And educational content standards, and the related curriculum, can either be what will give our students the knowledge that will be needed when they graduate; or force irrelevant content on them, leading to more disillusion with our education system; and at the same time lead to more unemployment.

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The Secret PowerSchool Technical Manual: Unintended Consequences of Plugins

PowerSchool LogoOne of the reasons our school chose to go with PowerSchool, is that it has a higher degree of customization than many other SIS products.  And when we first started with PowerSchool, we had a great consultant come out and help train our techs on how do much of this customization, and at the same time, he helped us do some of the initial customizations we needed.  And in the end, to help us implement these customizations, he wrapped them up in to a plugin, and we were able to easily install them.  And we thought that it would be easy for us to continue to customize things….

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Will California have the Wisdom to Elect Delaine Eastin?

Delaine EastinYesterday, Delaine Eastin officially announced her candidacy for governor.  In an era of short-term thinking, her candidacy is more important than ever.

Why?  Because as the first President Bush once said “Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”  And Delaine is the only candidate to see that the problems of today, which are real, can only be solved through long-term thinking, which focuses on education.

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SIS Review: PowerSchool – The U.S. Market Leader, but not Perfect

When Highlands Community Charter School recently was looking to switch to a new SIS, we ultimately chose PowerSchool, and for the past month, I’ve been working intensely to migrate from our previous system (School Pathways) to PowerSchool.  Overall this process has been smooth, but it has also highlighted to me some clear problems that PowerSchool has, and why one shouldn’t only choose a product because it has the most market share.

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SIS Review: Aspen – Great for Large School Systems

My first review of various SISes is that of Aspen by Follett.  When Highlands Community Charter School recently was looking to switch to a new SIS, Aspen was in our top 3 choices, and only barely lost out to PowerSchool.  During our review process, I had the chance to look at a sandbox system (demo) of their product for about a week, and we asked a lot of questions to their sales rep, Dylan Holcomb.   As a matter of disclosure, I should note that Dylan was a friend from high school, but I think this review is fairly objective, as there are clearly things I don’t like about the product, along with many things I really like.  I have written about Aspen previously also.

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A Series of Reviews of Student Information Systems (SIS)

For over 10 years I’ve worked with about 7 different Student Information Systems (SIS), too one degree or another.  Since I have generally worked with these both from the back-end (database administrator and institutional researcher) as well as from the front-end (teacher and school administrator), this puts me in a fairly unique position to be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each system.  Thus, I thought I should share my thoughts on the different SISes that I have had experience with, in order to help schools and school systems in choosing one.

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Thought of the Day: Thriving in the World of the Future requires Learning in the Manner of the Past

I ran into two articles this morning about education from the Washington Post that on the surface seem very different, yet truly dovetail into each other.   The first is the fact that education in the United States is not providing the skills to the population that will be needed for the 21st century, even though it is in vogue to say things are “21st Century Skills”.   One only needs to look to the fact that Common Core requires teaching imaginary numbers but never mentions binary to see we have a problem.  The other article was about how we screw up learning in school so often, and how instructional fads that are said to be absolutely true at the time, are often not.  Along the same lines, it is worth considering what has happened when kids have just gotten to use a computer, and how much they learned on their own.



Why Johnny Can’t Compute: The Failure of the Old Math

Why Johnny Can't ComputeNearly every leader in our nation is saying that we need to have students get more STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), so that our country will not fall behind technologically and economically from the rest of the world. But, what they don’t say (possibly, because they don’t know), is that the type of math that is needed for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Computer Science (CS) is not the math that is normally taught in high school.

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