There are many organizations that offer grant monies for playground equipment and upkeep. Finding grant opportunities for playgrounds is relatively easy if you know where to look, but applying for a grant is a difficult process that requires a lot of preparation and work. Writing the grant proposal will require research, patience and ability. Most universities and many private organizations offer grant writing courses that give students an edge when applying for grants.
Create a line-item budget. Include the cost of playground equipment, shipping fees, installation and insurance. Any bids on labor and insurance should be photocopied and the original bids, preferably on the bidder's letterhead, should be submitted with the line-item budget.
Make a list of whom the playground benefits. Organizations that give grant monies will typically ask for demographic information. Low-income residents and physically handicapped individuals should be noted, as well as the total number of students likely to benefit from the grant award, the ages of students or community members who will make use of the playground and the size of the community represented.
Make a list of grant-giving organizations. Use databases that can be found on the Internet, including Grants.gov and Schoolgrants.org, to find the organizations that would be most likely to fulfill the grant. Look for regional and local grant opportunities, as well as any opportunities that cover special needs the playground may have.
Contact the school board and school administration to get approval if the playground is attached to a school. Many schools are not permitted to receive grant awards that are more than $5,000 without the approval of the school board. Grants from state and federal sources will usually require the signature of a superintendent or other high-level administrator.
Make contact with potential grant awarders based on the rules given on their website or in their proposal package. Prepare a short version of the project proposal, focusing on how the community will benefit from the playground improvements. Some organizations will require contact via a telephone call, but others will ask for an outline or abstract based on the full proposal.
Write grant proposals for the organizations that responded positively to contact or the shorter project overviews. Each proposal must be unique, and it should follow the granting organization's guidelines to the letter. Make sure the proposal includes a well-written summary, the line-item budget, any associated paperwork, demographic information, project time line and all the information about the school or community the playground is associated with along with any other information the organization requires.
Wait patiently for the organization's decision. If the project is time-sensitive, make a phone call two to three weeks after submitting the grant proposal to ask if it arrived and offer to answer any questions that the organization may have.
Patience is important when waiting for a grant proposal's status. Pestering the organization offering grant opportunities is a quick way to get denied.
- playground image by Lori Pagel from Fotolia.com