TIPS from Sustainable Schools Connection is a project of Generation Green, a 501(C)(3) Corporation

Think Small: The best place to get support for your projects is from the families at your school and the businesses they own and/or frequent, so don’t overlook this important one! Remember, your school PTA/Site Council are there to support school projects too.
Think Local: Local businesses (and sometime local branches of larger corporations) are the most likely to invest in the local community – even small donations add up, and collecting gift cards and other items all year for an annual auction or other fundraising event make a big difference. Percent off sales for your school community are a win-win since they also help bring new customers to local retailers and restaurants so many are willing to try this out.
Events: Fundraising events can require lots of work and money to put on, but the earning potential is practically unlimited with some schools earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. Warning: don’t bite off more than you can chew, be sure you have a committee!
Fundraisers: This is a great way to get your whole school community involved, and there are endless choices, but think about what you are selling (and asking your children to sell), and if the message fits in with you/your schools overarching goals, i.e. selling cookies and candy while trying to get students to eat their fruits and veggies can be confusing for them. Be creative, there are many innovative ideas out there – today we will talk about some of them.
Grantmaking – The Foundation Center in SF is the place to get all the information you need on donors of all sizes. You can pay to subscribe to their oneline database or use it for free at their SF center. The WC library has it available for free use also, and you can pay to print your research. Doing your homework pays off – writing proposals is like looking for a job, you want to apply for ones that you qualify for, and that are interesting in what you do. There are many online resources to help you with the process of writing your actual proposals and TFC has free seminars regularly.
Local Foundations: The San Ramon Valley Education Foundation ( and Tri-Valley Community Foundation (www.tvcfoundation.orf) are a great place to start as they are local funders who gives millions or dollars in this community. – an online charity connecting people who want to give to classroom needs., an exciting new nonprofit that helps teachers and schools attract donations to provide supplies from parents, local businesses, alumni and others in the community.
School Gardens: There are many funders that like to support school gardens because they are such a great way to connect children to the natural world and teach them lifelong lessons about environmental stewardship and wellness issues like exercise and nutrition.

Grant Writing Basics – What to include in your proposal:

1. Cover Letter

  • No more than one page.
  • Organization (who you are and your background briefly), purpose of funding, and the amount of your request should appear in the first paragraph.
  • Include a contact name, phone number and address.

2. Proposal Summary

  • Limit to one page.
  • State the organization making the request and link organizational background to the proposal purpose.
  • State your project purpose.
  • Briefly state how your project will be implemented.
  • State the results you expect from your project.
  • Include your total budget amount, other funds that are committed and the amount of your request.

90% of funding decisions by private donors and foundations will be made by the time the funder finishes reading this page. It must be concise, compelling, and clear!

3. Introduction to the Organization

  • History
  • General Purpose
  • Goals and objectives as they relate to this project, and in overview, as they provide a context for the work you want to undertake.
  • Accomplishments, especially as they relate to this project or to your capacity to provide this project.
  • Service areas and population served.

4. Statement of Problem or Need

  • Use a funnel approach.
  • Start with the generalized problem as it occurs in your community.
  • Move to the conditions which make this a problem.
  • Outline current resources that address this problem and identify gaps in those resources.
  • Identify how your proposal will fill these gaps.

5. Project Goals and Objectives

  • What specific goals are you trying to achieve?
  • What measurable milestones will you reach in meeting those goals?
  • How will you and the funder know that you are making progress towards your goals?

6. Methods and Schedule

  • What actions will you take to achieve your goals?
  • What steps must you take to achieve success?
  • Who will do what? (Include here job descriptions and background statements of staff or the qualifications you will seek in staff for the project. This is true even if “staff” will actually be volunteers.)
  • When will these actions take place?
  • Evaluation Criteria and Process
  • How will you know whether you are achieving your goals?
  • What will you measure to evaluate your progress?
  • What records and information will you keep to allow you to measure your progress?

7. Budget

  • More detail is better than less.
  • Don’t round out if possible. Use bids and estimates whenever you can get them – even if they are informal quotes.
  • Don’t pad your budget. Competent reviewers will know the cost of goods and services, and will understand prevailing wages. If they know you are trying to deceive them on budget, what else will they suspect you of trying to deceive them about?
  • Do include all sources of support – including volunteer time, donated space and borrowed

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