Mini-grants submitted to local civic groups and businesses are important potential sources of support for student study abroad. Groups which might be considered include, but are not limited to the Jaycees, Junior League, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, Civitan Club, Rotary Club, Knights Templar, and the Masonic Lodge. Private businesses and corporations might also be contacted in the community.
Precursors to writing the proposal:
1. Identify the potential funding source. Make contact with persons who are members of the group and informally inquire whether there might be an interest in helping a student who is doing student teaching abroad. Some groups actively look for service projects in the community and you may be the opportunity they are looking for! Find out who the contact person would be for service projects, e.g., Activities Chairperson, Service to the Community Chairperson, etc. Once this person is identified, all correspondence and documentation should be directed toward this individual, unless it is noted by the individual that other organizational personnel should also receive copies of correspondence. Get information about the goals of the organization in order to determine how you can link your proposal to the attainment of their goals. Also, determine the amount of money that is available from the funding source and orient your request toward the amount of available funds. If one funding source does not have all money that is needed, several different proposals might be submitted to various groups to obtain the total amount needed.
2. Identify your specific needs. Be sure that you are clear what funds you require for the experience to be a successful one. It is imperative that an appropriate match between your needs and the requested funds be made since you would like to show the funding source that their efforts have contributed to a successful student experience.
Writing the Proposal:
Although some groups may have application forms used for funding assistance, the following general format will prove helpful in developing the mini-grant:
Request for Assistance from
Specific Need: In a narrative format, include a description of your goals and the targeted study abroad experience. Be specific regarding what your resource needs will be to ensure a successful experience. Language in the introduction might include key descriptors such as, "global economy", "our community's link to the world economy", etc.
Benefits to the Community: If possible, attempt to link your experience abroad to long-term outcomes such as enhanced ability to work with children from a range of cultures, facilitating greater human understanding in the community, etc.
Benefits to the Organization: Assuming that you have identified the goals of the organization regarding community involvement, you should attempt to maximize the benefits to the funding group. All organizations like to hear that they are doing good work and like the publicity that results from their involvement in the community. Point out the benefits of their involvement in assisting you. It may be that you could present the group with a special recognition certificate, plan a day at the school in which the group is recognized, or some other such activity. Always contact the media and attempt to get them involved. It may be that you will need to prepare a brief news release for submission to the local paper, have photographs taken with the appropriate funding personnel and submit to the paper, or other such activity. But remember, demonstration of benefits to the organization will frequently be the key to getting your funding, so give this careful thought.
If you have experienced success using this approach, please share your experience with Dr. Phil Parette at firstname.lastname@example.org
The above information based on: Parette, H. P., Murdick, N. L., & Gartin, B. C. (1996). Mini-grant to the rescue! Using community resources to obtain assistive technology devices for children with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 28(2), 20-23.