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Contents of this page:
- Basics of Grant Writing
- Find a grant
- Gather your basic information
- Put together your stats
- Writing the proposal
- Review your proposal
- Submit your application
- Minnesota LSTA Grants
- Books We are Reading
Hi, and welcome back to Linking Our Libraries!
We are from Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and our mission is to support libraries. That means we are here to help libraries and library people to find information they need, to build skills, and to share ideas about all the things that make our profession great!
You can check out our website and hit the Subscribe to Us link to subscribe to everything we have, including this podcast, our online book groups, our social media, and more! We have tons of information available on our website, for any library to use; and we will be adding more webinars and training opportunities to help you.
This week we are talking about Grants.
These can be wonderful, and bring your library new materials, equipment, programs, and services! That is all great! Of course, nothing comes for free, so they also bring you extra paperwork, reporting responsibilities, staff time, and the need to oversee potentially new programs. You need to spend some time weighing the costs and the benefits to your individual situation. Every grant will not be right for you and your organization – but if you find something that can bring you benefits: Go for it!! Apply! It never hurts to ask for money to help build for your community!
And of course, as with every topic we discuss here – at CMLE we are available to help you with this process. If you have never written a grant, but get some ideas after listening to this episode – we can help you put your idea together and turn in a great application! If you are an experience grant writer, but want someone else to look over things for you – we are available to help with that also! We never recommend you creating grants alone; it is always better as a team project. And if you want CMLE to be part of your team, we are ready for help!
Basics of Grant Writing
- Get an idea. You want to keep a folder of all the great ideas you have, all the things you think of that you would like to do, and all the problems you are facing that could be solved with more resources. Keep track of needs in your organization, areas where you or your community members need training, or other places you can fill in with something missing. Do not rely on remembering them all – if a sudden grant opportunity comes up, you want to be ready!
- Find a grant! This might be really easy. For example, the Minnesota LSTA grant applications are available right now, and we link to them on the page for this podcast. It might take more time; but you can google “library grants” or spend some time looking through our webpage on Grants.
- Gather your basic information. Who are you? What do you do? These are not really simple questions. You may be an elementary school library – but what are you trying to do there? Is your focus on books? Databases? Programming? Building tech internationalist skills?? These will all lead you in different directions, so you want to be very clear on what you really want, what you really really want, from any grant opportunity before you waste a lot of time on something that will not be right for your organization. Funders want to give away their money, but they want to give it to a narrow spectrum of organizations; if you are not in that – you need to apply elsewhere.
- Put together your stats – every grant will need this. What is your Community Impacted by your proposal? How will you measure that impact? What is the Specific Populations to be Served? The better you can define this as “all fifth graders in our district” or “all senior citizens who visit our coffee shop” or “all nursing assistants” the better focused your application will be on the work that needs to be done. What are some basic Cost Estimates? What are your Expected Outcomes? What kind of Internal Organizational Support do you have? You can firm these up as you go along, but having some basic ideas when you start will make your application stronger.
- Your next stage is: Writing the Proposal. (See how much work you do before you ever get here? That shows in your application, and makes it much stronger!) Every grant will be individual, and you need to very carefully follow the questions they are asking. Most grants will want this basic information:
- Purpose of Proposed Project
- Statement of Need
- Project Description
- Goals and Objectives
- Organizational Capability
- Documentation of Support
- Approval Forms and Clearances
- Review your proposal! You definitely want to give this to someone else to do – have them read over it to be sure it makes sense to someone outside your organization or outside libraries in general. You have a few editing basics that you would check in any document, but that are very important in grants:
- Spelling, Grammar, Math
- Presentation (do not spill coffee on the page and send it in!)
- Finally: Submit your application!!! This should be a moment of triumph for you, no matter what the outcome ultimately is! So do not blow it right at the end with these common mistakes:
- Late: No grant funder will take applications late – even by 30 minutes
- Damaged: Coffee stains, torn pages – all disasters
- Incomplete: “I didn’t understand that part, so I left it out” is a literal death sentence for your grant; as is skipping over any part of the application accidently
- Not arriving at all: If you are mailing it (and you are often mailing multiple paper copies, so the funder can distribute them out to reviewers), get it insured, pay for a signature requirement! This is potential money you are mailing, so don’t be careless with it!
Potential responses back from the funder:
- “Sorry, no!” In this case spend a few minutes retreating under your desk with a carton of Ben and Jerry’s or a travel-sized bottle of Jack Daniels – whatever works to console you in times of crisis! But then wipe away the tears, get back up, and take the next steps.
- Contact the funder and politely ask what the problem was. They want to give away money, so will usually want to tell you how to make your application stronger for next year; or will tell you that it was really far off their expectations and needs to go elsewhere
- Look around for another place to submit this grant, maybe slightly modified. You did a lot of work to get it ready, so it may still be valuable elsewhere!
- “Yay! We loved it!!” This is excellent news! Take a few minutes to celebrate!! Pass around rewards to your team: glasses of champagne, cookies, rubber duckies – whatever you use to celebrate with: do it!
- And then start getting really serious, because the hard work of actually doing all the stuff you said you would do is just getting started.
As we are in Minnesota, we want to be sure we point out the LSTA grants available in our state RIGHT NOW! CMLE members: we are here for you, and we can help set up partnerships to apply for these grants with other libraries, or help you work on the application itself. https://w1.education.state.mn.us/EGMS/searchGrants.do
- It looks a little terrifying when you first open the page, but be brave! You can narrow down that scary-looking list to the three for libraries by entering “library” into the search box in the menu “Search Open Grant Opportunities.”
The grants currently available in Minnesota are:
Library Construction Grants
- The department makes this funding available to public library jurisdictions for renovation, construction and improvement projects that result in more accessible library facilities. Projects may remove architectural barriers from a library building or site, remediate conditions hazardous to health or safety, renovate or expand an existing building for use as a library, or construct a new library.
- (Accessibility grants are limited to $200,000 and improvement grants are limited to $1,000,000 and are contingent upon the matching obligations.
Early STEM Literacy in libraries grant
- There is a total of $50,000 for this Early STEM Literacy in Libraries mini grant initiative. Funds will address the need for increased early STEM experiences for 0-5 year olds and their caregivers in public or public school district or charter school libraries.
- Eligible applicants are limited to public libraries that meet the definition of a public library in Minnesota Statutes, section 134.001, public school district or charter school libraries and tax exempt non-profit organizations willing to serve as a fiscal agent for an Early STEM in Libraries grant to benefit a legally established Minnesota public library.
- Grant applications can be written for funds up to $10,000
The general LSTA program
- State Library Services estimates that $520,000 is available. Funds will be used to expand access to library services for learning and high quality information resources for Minnesotans.
- Eligible organizations are All legally established public libraries and library cooperatives or consortia, libraries located in Minnesota’s public schools or public colleges and universities, and special libraries operated by a Minnesota registered 501 (c)(3) organization. Applicants may submit more than one application, although only one grant per applicant will be awarded.
- Your grant application needs to meet one of the goals of the state:
- Support literacy, including but not limited to 21st century and digital literacy skills
- Provide educational opportunities for children from early learning through postsecondary, especially targeting children from birth through age 17 from families living in poverty or facing barriers including but not limited to language, race, ability, geography or access to resources such as technology.
- Promote lifelong learning and continuing education, including the enhancement and expansion of services and resources relating to health, access to justice, workforce and community development in order to cultivate a more informed citizenry.
- Promote training and professional development, including continuing education, to expand the current and future library workforce to support end user needs
Grants are fun! Grants are hard work! Grants can be amazing! Or they can be enormous time-sucks that make you question your will to work in libraries! Getting yourself organized and setting up your grant through this process we discussed will help you. Call on CMLE to help too : we are here to support libraries!
Books we are reading
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, by The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman) “This is not just a book about running. It’s a book about cupcakes. It’s a book about suffering.
It’s a book about gluttony, vanity, bliss, electrical storms, ranch dressing, and Godzilla. It’s a book about all the terrible and wonderful reasons we wake up each day and propel our bodies through rain, shine, heaven, and hell.
From #1 New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal, comes this hilarious, beautiful, poignant collection of comics and stories about running, eating, and one cartoonist’s reasons for jogging across mountains until his toenails fall off.
Containing over 70 pages of never-before-seen material, including “A Lazy Cartoonist’s Guide to Becoming a Runner” and “The Blerch’s Guide to Dieting,” this book also comes with Blerch race stickers.”
Junkyard Dogs: A Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson “It’s a volatile new economy in Durant when the owners of a multimillion-dollar development of ranchettes want to get rid of the adjacent Stewart junkyard. Meeting the notorious Stewart clan is an adventure unto itself, and when conflict erupts—and someone ends up dead—Sheriff Walt Longmire, his lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, and deputies Santiago Saizarbitoria and Victoria Moretti find themselves in a small town that feels more and more like a high-plains pressure cooker.
The hilarious and suspenseful sixth book in the Longmire series from The New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies finds our sheriff up to his badge in the darker aspects of human nature, making his way through the case with a combination of love, laughs, and derelict automobiles.”
Remember: grant writing is definitely a team exercise!! At CMLE we are here to help you. We have information on our Grants page on our website, and we are available to talk with you about the specific grant you are working on, or one you would like to work on! Our contact info is on our website, so don’t hesitate to contact us!
Next Week: we talk about library Friends and volunteers!