Jul 072010

The NEA Green Across America Grant funds school gardens nationwide.

Apply by July 30, 2010, for school garden funding of up to $1,000 through the NEA "Green Across America" Grant Program.

With interest in the content of school lunches at its height, there’s never been a better time to start a school garden. What better way to interest kids in fresh food than to serve them fruits and vegetables they’ve grown themselves? I’ve blogged it before and I’ll blog it again, Real School Food Starts with Real School Gardens!

Of course, installing and maintaining a school garden can be expensive, as there are a number of costs associated with:

  • irrigation and plumbing of potable water
  • equipment rentals
  • fencing
  • soil amendments
  • compost infrastructure
  • rainwater storage receptacles
  • raised planter beds
  • shed(s)
  • tools
  • greenhouse

That’s why I’m so excited to share with you an opportunity to help fund school gardens in your community.

As reported by School Garden Weekly, schools nationwide have until July 30 to apply for the “Green Across America” grant through the National Education Assocation (NEA). Sponsored by Target, these grants will be awarded for up to $1,000.

Whether you’re a school administrator or teacher ready to apply, or a parent who wants to pass this message along, here is the link to the online application for NEA “Green Across America” Grant.

How to Make It a Matching Grant

Real school food starts with real school gardens!

What better way to interest kids in fresh food than to serve them fruits and vegetables they've grown themselves?

“Small grants are a fantastic way of funding a new start-up program,” says CompostMania co-founder Karl Warkomski, “especially if half a dozen local companies can match any awards received.”

Think outside the box when it comes to matching grant requests of local businesses. They need not be limited to direct monetary contributions, but may include labor, materials or discounts.

For best results with matching grants, Karl suggests that you:

1) Target local funding sources FIRST, before seeking out and applying for national grants, which tend to be highly competitive (though you may want to make an exception for the NEA grant as the deadline is near). 

2) Have several eyes review and comment on the narrative sections you have written for the grant. MAKE SURE you follow the instructions!  Incomplete applications and ones that do not answer the questions asked are normally disqualified. 

3) Always weigh the benefits with the amount of time it takes to manage the grant process. Not only does it take time to develop a program with a budget and fill out the application, but you will more than likely be required to submit ongoing reports, detailing the results of your efforts. 

Studens can eat fresh fruits and veggies they've grown themselves.

Fresh produce from school gardens can be harvested, prepared and served for healthier meals in school cafeterias.

4) Once you have identified those local foundations offering grants, use your personal and employment networks to identify board members or employees on those foundations. If time permits, setup a meeting to discuss your program and vision. Find out who the decision makers are in the grant-awarding process. Building lasting relationships goes a long way in the nonprofit world. Like with other industries, it is who you know. 

5) Once you have started to receive a few grants for your program, use that success and track record to apply for other, larger sources of funding. 

6) Monitor all spending and keep records for reporting purposes. 

7) Broadcast your achievements within the community by holding events which share in the bounty, identify contributors, and highlight the program benefits as they apply to the curriculum — after all, it’s about the students.

Click here to learn more and apply for the NEA “Green Across America” grant today.

Image credit (top left): http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchiefoo/22297597/

Image credit (middle right): http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakleyoriginals/4551662427/

Image credit (bottom left): http://www.flickr.com/photos/constructiondeal_marketing/4463639314/

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