By Courtney Hagan
Developing and writing an educational grant can seem like a daunting process of where to begin, especially considering the level of detail that may need to be etched into each goal, objective, or outcome. In addition, it is also important to consider how aligned these goals, objectives, or outcomes are to the needs of the populations you are serving or the populations implementing the project. One tactic that may be useful is consulting stakeholders – students, project staff, faculty, teachers, school / university leadership – during the grant writing process to ensure that their voices and needs are represented early in the process.
Who is a Stakeholder?
Stakeholders are interested individuals or groups with an interest in your project’s implementation or outcomes. Stakeholders can be:
Implementers of the activities that are part of the project (e.g., teachers, faculty)
Advocates for sustaining the project based on successful outcomes (e.g., parents, business community)
Funders or authorizers who will support the continuation or expansion of the project (e.g., school board, regional foundation)
Beneficiaries of the project (e.g., students)
Tips for Inviting Stakeholder Feedback in the Grant Writing Process
1. Come to stakeholders with specific questions in mind. It may be a good idea to ask your various stakeholders tailored and detailed questions that aim to pull their needs forward (see table).
Staff implementing the project
We would like to implement this specific project: Is this feasible for us to implement within the timeframe we have specified? What would be the specific action steps needed to implement this program fully? (e.g., are there barriers for getting action steps approved by administrators?) Do staff have the time availability to help fully implement this project?
We are considering implementing this project that you will be receiving: Is this something that you feel is needed? Do you have recommendations on delivering this program? Are there programmatic aspects / components that we are missing?
Funders or authorizers
We are seeking funding for this project: Is this project something that you feel is needed in our community? What type of evidence would you need to fund or authorize the continuation of this project in the future?
2. Make stakeholder groups aware of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations that you have laid out throughout the life of the grant. To help establish that this project is feasible, it is important to fully describe the intended project to stakeholders you are consulting. For example, teachers may be expected to deliver specific components of the program directly to their students, therefore it may be important for teacher feedback on the feasibility of the program to be considered.
3. Demonstrate your commitment to stakeholder participation by including a stakeholder advisory group in your project proposal. A stakeholder advisory group offers benefits across the life of your project, including community support and buy-in, advice and feedback on project implementation, and communication channels to disseminate the results of your project. In your grant application, identify the types of stakeholders you intend to recruit and the types of advice they will contribute across the term of the project.
By inviting the stakeholder groups early in the process, you are helping to enable teamwork, create buy-in, and de-silo the processes the project needs to go through within the grant’s life course. Engaging stakeholders early on helps to ensure project success.