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Top Twelve Grant Terms You Should Know

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External funding can cover a variety of educational initiatives

A grant is a financial award given to an organization with no expectation for the payment back; therefore, a grant is a favorable approach for schools to raise funding for initiatives that serve an impactful purpose. Examples of grant awards may be to purchase school supplies for students, cover field trip costs, provide professional learning for teachers and staff, add new playground equipment, purchase new curricula, or even build an entirely new building on the school campus. However, grant writing often comes with understanding a new language of grant writing terms. If you are new to grant writing, we would like to share the top 12 grant terms you should know.

1. Grantmaker/Grantor- The grantmaker is the organization tasked with disseminating grant funding. Grantmakers are typically foundations, corporations, and government agencies. Examples of grantmakers include the Lilly Foundation, Target, Ben + STEM, Techpoint Foundation for Youth, IN-Mac, and the Indiana Department of Education.

2. Request for Proposal (RFP)- When a grantmaker has funding to award to another organization, they often send out an RFP on their website, newsletter, or other communicative platforms. The grantmaker usually provides the following information within the RFP:

  • Name of grantmaking organization

  • Name of grant

  • Purpose of available funding/mission of the grantmaker

  • Targeted populations

  • Eligible applicants

  • Application due date

  • Total award available

  • Timeline

  • Contact information

3. Grant Officer/Grant Manager- The grant officer is the point of contact at a grantmaking organization. They can be a helpful resource if you have questions or need assistance.

4. Awardee/Grant Recipient- The awardee is the school or educational organization that receives the funds from a grant to pursue an initiative. The awardee is typically a 501(c)(3) organization and not an individual or for-profit business (though exceptions exist).

5. In-kind matching/in-kind funds/In-kind donation- This is a portion of the initiative that will not be paid for by the grantmaker. Some of the funding for the completion of the initiative will come from another source. For example, an educator applies for a $500 grant for a hydroponics garden from a local community foundation. The hydroponics system ultimately costs $750. The PTO has agreed to designate an additional $250 toward the purchase of a hydroponic system if the school is awarded the $500 grant. The grantmaker awards $500 and the PTO matches $250- totaling the $750 needed to purchase a hydroponics system.

6. Project Period- This is the period of time that the funding is available and the initiative’s start and end date. This timeline is after the awardee receives the grant funds and needs to spend it within a certain amount of time. It could be six months, it could be a year, it could be three years, it depends on the grantmaker and their expectations for how long the funding period is.

7. Principal Investigator- The individual(s) assessed by the grantmaker to have the appropriate authority and responsibility to direct the initiative supported by the grant. This is the person who is going to be accountable for the initiative to make sure it is managed well and initiative goals are reached.

8. Letter of Intent/Letter of Interest- The Letter of Intent is sometimes requested by a grantmaker; it is a letter written by the school applying for the grant to the grantmaker, informing them of the upcoming proposal submission.

9. Letter of Inquiry- Some grantmakers prefer a Letter of Inquiry prior to submission of a full grant proposal. A Letter of Inquiry is a brief summarization of the initiative idea and questions the grantmaker “Would you be open to learning more about this?” If the grantmaker is interested, then the school would submit a full grant proposal. If the grantmaker is not interested, then the school saves time by not submitting the full proposal of that particular initiative (and can either look elsewhere or modify the initiative idea and send a new Letter of Inquiry).

10. Grant Budget- The grant budget is the detailed monetary plan of how the grant award dollars will be designated to support the initiative.

11. Subaward- a subaward is when there are multiple people or organizations involved in the initiative. For example, a school is awarded a grant of $15,000 to build a greenhouse. From this initial award amount, $3,500 will be subawarded to a gardening nonprofit partner to design the space, provide training for the teachers on equipment use, and measure student performance outcomes. In this case, the local gardening nonprofit is the subawardee.

12. Indirect Rates- Grantmakers understand that when they award a school with funding, they are not reimbursing the school for all related costs to fulfill an initiative. Schools still need funding to heat the building, keep the lights on, pay salaries, etc. Because of these additional costs to simply keep a school running, some grantmakers allow the school to request a percentage of the grant award to be designated towards these types of costs, referred to as indirect costs. Let us say a grantmaker allows a 10% indirect cost to be requested. That means $500 of the $5,000 can be used for keeping the school building running. If a grantmaker does not specify allowance for indirect rates in the RFP, the grant proposal writer can ask.

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Innovations in teaching and learning oftentimes require new resources


Awarded grants can positively impact the school environment and students’ lives. If you are new to grant writing, we hope this list of top 12 terms provides a brief but succinct overview that will support your program. If you need grant writing help, reach out to us!

Infinite Capacity is dedicated to inclusively fostering personal and professional growth for educators, leaders, and community partners through innovative educational practices. Consulting services are available for school and district-level support. Please e-mail us at for more information. Our book, Leadership in Integrative STEM: Strategies for Facilitating an Experiential and Student-Centered Culture, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Rowman & Littlefield.

This work by Dr. Geesa and Dr. Stith was printed in the Indiana Association for School Principals (IASP) Indianagram on October 2022.

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