FAQ: What Makes a Winning Proposal?

Our most frequently asked question is:

"Why didn't my proposal get the grant?"

There is no simple answer.

We have a very limited pool of money to our requests-- each year the number is different, but our proposals usually total 6-12 times the amount of money we have to give.

We evaluate the projects each year, and have to determine each year which projects we should fund. Some years we receive more proposals than others, so the competition is fiercer. Sometimes we get lots of great proposals, and it's hard to make a decision. A proposal that gets funded one year might not get funded the next year, depending on the field.

Here's what we look for in a proposal:

In general, we put a premium on creative projects where there is an active student involvement, active learning process, and where there is a chance for lasting effect on students.

We favor projects that are innovative, think outside the box, involve mixing academic subjects (generally not literacy, although we do make exceptions) with visual or performing arts, involve students acquiring or gaining skills and experience, or involve teachers gaining skills and experience that they will then pass on to other students and teachers. 

A couple of completely made up examples: (please don't propose these exact proposals!)

1) We are probably less likely to fund a dance presentation in an assembly program for the entire school, even if its interactive and very well done and deals with math subjects.

We are probably more likely to fund a choreographer, who, working with the math teacher and one of the classes, creates a choreography based on a 5/4 time signature that the whole school can learn and perform as a last day of school ritual/recital.

2) We are probably less likely to fund a teacher going to a general conference on arts education to bring back ideas for the classroom.

We are probably more likely to fund an art teacher and social studies teacher to co-attend a workshop on currency creation, so that they could incorporate their findings into next year's social studies and art classes, in which students will create and design their own school currency based on the number 8.

Hope that helps!