If you are in a state that has been awarded the Striving Readers grant, congratulations! This means there will be new funds available for advancing literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12. (For background information on the Striving Readers federal grant, including which states were awarded, read this blog.)
Each awarded state will hold grant competitions to fund 3-year grants to Local Education Agencies and early childhood providers. Applicants with greater number or percentages of “disadvantaged children” must be prioritized (i.e. – children living in poverty, English learners, children with disabilities, and students who are homeless or in foster care).
Louisiana was first out-of-the-gate with a grant application due November 10, 2017. Other states, like Minnesota, plan to hold their grant competition in Spring 2018.
Often grant applications have a very tight window, so it’s to your advantage to prepare now. Here are three steps your district can take now to prepare for the upcoming LEA grant competition.
1. Form a planning committee. Invite a variety of stakeholders to participate in planning the literacy project. Since the grant focuses on birth-grade 12, your district will need to have several decision-makers participate in the discussion. Committee personnel might include:
- Literacy Director or Curriculum Director
- Title I Director or Federal Programs Director
- Special Education Director
- English Learners Director
- Professional Development Director
- Principals of targeted schools
- Literacy Coaches and/or teachers
- Non-profit early childhood partner, like a Head Start
2. Assign responsibilities. Now is a good time to figure out roles and responsibilities for completing the grant. Assign someone to become your local Striving Readers expert, to be responsible for keeping up with all documents on your state’s Striving Readers website, as well as attend any technical assistance sessions. Additionally, you can determine:
- who will gather data for the needs assessment
- who will lead the grant-writing effort
- who will create the grant budget
- who will keep the Superintendent or School Board informed
3. Gather data. When planning your grant project, everything should tie back to student needs. For example, learning gaps should inform intervention selection as well as professional development plans.
To create a strong grant application, the planning committee will need to analyze the student and school data, identifying underlying root causes of under or failing performance in literacy. Below are some data to gather that could help inform your project plans:
- current list of low-achieving schools
- demographic data (i.e. enrollment by sub group–- special education, EL, free-and-reduced price lunch, etc.)
- district’s state assessment results in literacy from past 3 years
- early childhood needs
- recent grant applications or Comprehensive Improvement Plans
- strengths/weaknesses of current literacy assessments, interventions, and professional development
Pearson Grant Support. If you are including a Pearson program in your Striving Readers grant, the Pearson Funding Team can provide a “Help Packet.” It offers sample grant language to help you describe the Pearson program as well as implementation ideas, research citations, and extensive writing tips.