As a school administrator, you’re under tremendous pressure to ensure the safety of your students and staff in a time of growing risks and threats in our communities. And the limited government resources and bureaucracy is not helping you to secure much needed funding for better school emergency response and safety.

Thankfully, there are private entities like the School Safety Grant, started by the parents of Parkland shooting victims, that support under-funded schools by providing access to lifesaving resources. Their application requirements are simple –  (1) fill out a form with relevant facts and (2) write a compelling 500-word statement of purpose.

To help you get started with this process, we look to a professional grant reviewer for advice and insight. Judy Riffle, Ed.D is an Educator and School District Director of Federal and State Programs in Arizona who writes a regular column on the subject of Educational Leadership on Below is a list of Dr. Judy Riffle’s best advice excerpted from her weekly articles.

10 Strategies For Writing A Winning Grant Application

1. Fact-Finding

Gather data on school discipline, police reports, community crime, weather emergency and other hazards. Include the characteristics of your school – personal student stories if available, community statistics, etc.

2. Collaboration

Strengthen your proposal by seeking out security personnel, local law enforcement, fire departments, military bases, hospitals, airports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), businesses and other emergency responders for their best practices and ideas.

3. Evaluation

Evaluate the current district emergency response plan, noting strengths and weaknesses. Research current statistics such as those found through FEMA, and understand the need to prepare for events that may be very different from those portrayed through the media.

4. Internal Review

Ensure that your application includes the following critical elements: prevention, response, recovery, protection, and mitigation. Preparedness, and continual management and maintenance. Consider forming an Emergency Response Advisory Team and meet for regular planning sessions if you don’t have one already.

5. Preparation

Prepare to answer probing questions from grant reviewers. Know your emergency response plan inside and out – train and educate yourself on relevant jargonto accurately describe threats and hazards, natural or human-caused. Ensure you’re armed with the right information.

6. Clarity

State your purpose clearly and aim for the reviewer to feel compelled to fund your project without any lingering doubts. Answer all the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Address potential shortfalls that you may have discussed during planning sessions.

7. Story-telling

Tell a story about the people you serve; include valid and reliable statistics. Ensure all community or organizational needs you include in the grant narrative are addressed in the project design.

8. Emergency Planning

As you apply for a grant, you need to have your school’s updated Emergency Response Plan ready to go with the following components: command and management, resource management, communications and information management.

9. Communication Planning

Do you have a Crisis Communication Plan ready? How do you plan to communicate to first responders, parents, staff, school district and the media before, during and after an emergency event?

Dr. Judy Riffle warns – “Since many students have smartphones at school, they may alert parents that a violent incident is occurring. Having a mass arrival of parents at the school can hinder the work of first responders. So ensure families understand the district crisis plan and policies. This includes natural disasters, life threatening contagious diseases and technological emergencies.”

10. Rewriting

Ask people who are not part of your school organization to objectively review your grant proposal. Run questions, plug information gaps, clarify statements, test your logic and ideas and revise as necessary. Your aim is to craft the best proposal that you can write.


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With Havrion Protect you can: Control devices, applications, and communication platforms virtually in an emergency event; Manage sensors, triggers, devices, and displays on digital floor plans from a single, centralized management console; Build customized evacuation floor plans with static routes and lock down procedures; and Design levels of security and communication.

Schedule a Virtual Demo to learn how Havrion’s AI-powered solutions can help protect your environment from all types of natural or man-made emergency hazards.

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