2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge FAQ

Eligibility

Are we eligible to apply for this grant opportunity if we are not based in the United States?
The National Writing Project, as the organization hosting the 2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge, is currently unable to award grants to organizations that are not in the United States. Please subscribe to our blog at the bottom of our homepage at http://educatorinnovator.org/ to be updated on potential future grant opportunities.

We are starting a new school and have everything set up for students to enroll next year. Are we eligible to apply for a grant?
Only schools that are currently open with enrolled students are eligible for this grant. Please subscribe to our blog at the bottom of our homepage at http://educatorinnovator.org/ to be updated on future grant opportunities to which you could apply once your school opens.

Would you consider an application from an after-school program?
We would welcome an application from an after-school program, as long as there is an in-school component to your proposal. The leadership team you assemble would need to have in-school educators who will help design the project and are prepared to enact all or part of your plan in a K-12 school setting in addition to whatever might occur in your after school program.

Are private schools eligible for the grant?
Non-profit private schools are eligible to apply. However, NWP cannot award a grant to a for-profit company, including a for-profit school.

Are elementary schools eligible for the grant?
Yes! We encourage elementary schools to apply.

My organization is a non-profit 501(c)3, but is not affiliated with any particular Writing Project. Are we still eligible to apply?
You do not need to be part of a writing project to be eligible for an LRNG grant.

When you say a proposal must be “teacher-led,” what exactly do you mean?
The LRNG Innovators Challenge is interested in leadership by teachers, i.e. educators who work in K-12 schools, with an emphasis on improving K-12 education through productive partnerships with out of school providers. Successful applications will include teachers as lead partners throughout the project design, planning, and implementation.

Am I able to submit more than one proposal for the LRNG Innovators Challenge?
This is a competitive grant process with a small number of grants and we will be looking for geographic spread and diversity. Thus, it is highly unlikely that two proposals from the same place would be funded. Therefore we would encourage you to submit one proposal for one project that is in line with the funding goals.

 

Budget

Am I allowed to use grant funds to purchase equipment?
Equipment costs that are under your fiscal agent organization’s capital equipment threshold (usually $1,000–$5,000—check with your business/finance office) are allowed and would fit under “Office/Supplies”.

Please keep in mind, though, that the focus of the grant is to support teacher-led projects that help youth discover interests that connect the spheres of their lives, both in and outside of school, and provide potential future opportunities. So reviewers will be looking to make sure that this is the focus of the project and that teachers and their partners will have any necessary support to create this context for student learning. Equipment purchase must be necessary and integral to the realization of that aim. In addition, there would need to be evidence that there is sufficient time and resources available to conceptualize and enact the program. This may require documenting such support from other sources, such as release time for planning and reflection provided by the school itself.

Are we allowed to include salary or other pay for our team to do this work?
It is important to the success of your proposal that team members have enough time dedicated to the project to enact the plan. You are welcome to include salary or alternate types of pay for your team to ensure members are freed up to work on the project. This can be done in an assortment of ways, depending on your local circumstances, including support for a portion of a person’s current salary to release them from other work responsibilities, paying for substitutes to clear time from the classroom to do this work, or paying stipends for extra time outside of the school day. Use the “Comments” column on the budget to clearly show the % FTE for partial salary buyouts under the grant, or to describe the alternate pay arrangements so it is clear what effort is covered by the grant funds.

Is there a limit on the award amount for this grant opportunity? Is there a range?
Your team should submit a budget for exactly $20,000. If you are having difficulty determining what type of expenses would be eligible to include in your budget, we would be happy to discuss your proposal with you. Email educatorinnovator@nwp.org to request a time to talk.

What is the Outside Support column of the budget for?
The $20,000 LRNG grant may not fully cover the proposed program, so this column is for you to include other sources of secured support for this particular program, if applicable. As an example, you may use this column to show release time or stipends to support the planning or implementation of this work that will be paid for by the school or organization leading this work, or to show additional grant funds that have already been secured to support this project. Reviewers will read the proposal and budget to determine whether the plan is clearly realistic within the budget and the proposal can be accomplished by the team in the time available. Depending on your proposal, outside secured sources may or may not be critical to meet this criteria.

The grant guidelines limit spending on direct administrative expenses to a maximum of 10% of the grant. What is considered a direct administrative expense?
The difference between an administrative and instructional cost is based on the type of work that is being performed or the purpose of the expense. An instructional cost would include costs associated with the instructional or teacher-enrichment process, including salaries/benefits, travel, stipends, supplies or other costs directly associated with developing and implementing programs. Direct administrative costs would include general office clerical work, paying bills, or public relations that are directly tied to the program. For salaries, be explicit in your budget’s narrative comments about the type of work the person will perform to show how it fits in with either category.

The grant guidelines limit indirect costs to a maximum of 10% of the grant. What is considered an indirect cost?
Indirect costs are expenses that are not directly attributed to the grant-funded project. These costs often include facility and utility costs, and support for the salaries and benefits of employees in the organization that support the ongoing operation of the organization (e.g. accounting, payroll). Without support for these expenses, the organization would not be able to survive and support programs, although the exact cost is difficult to assign to a particular project. The fiscal agent organization may take up to 10% of the grant to help cover these indirect costs. Your organization or district’s finance department can help you calculate this.

We would like to include travel funds to present at a conference about this work, but the conference takes place after the end of the period of performance. If I pay for the travel in advance, can I include it in my budget?
Expenses charged to the grant must be for work that takes place during the period of performance. Travel costs are only allowable if the travel itself occurs during the period of performance. You will have up to 90 days after the period of performance ends to finish processing payment for eligible expenses that were incurred for work that took place during the period of performance.

 

Fiscal Agent & Signature Page

Who is eligible to serve as fiscal agent for my grant proposal?
A fiscal agent can be an educational institution (e.g. a school or school district, or a local National Writing Project site hosted at a university), a registered non-profit organization, or a community foundation. Grants cannot be made to a for-profit company or individuals.

The signature page asks for a signature from a school administrator. What is the purpose of this signature?
The purpose of the administrative signature (e.g. the school principal) is to ensure that the teacher applicants are going to be able to enact the plans they articulate in the proposal. Since there is only one school-year of work time, there is no time for teachers to recover if they run into administrative problems.

On the signature page, who is the Fiscal Agent Contracting Officer?
The Fiscal Agent Contracting Officer is a person at your school or organization that has the authority to sign off on proposals on behalf of the organization, and ultimately would be the person who has authority to sign a contract accepting the terms of the grant, if awarded. Who exactly that is depends on how your school or organization is set up. Some possibilities include a principal, superintendent, the school board chair, someone in the business office like a finance director or grants person, or a nonprofit’s Executive Director or Development Director.

 

Proposal Submission

Is it helpful to send samples of student work, photos of our space, or letters of support in a separate file to augment our proposal?
You may upload additional materials as an addendum to your proposal by using the “Add Document” button on the right-hand side of your application task list in the system. We cannot guarantee that the reviewers will have time to look at them, so they should not be central to your application, but do feel free to include them.

Would you like us to submit resumes with our application?
Resumes are not necessary for this application.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at educatorinnovator@nwp.org.