Congratulations to our Mini Grant Recipients!
Maria Mavrides – Once Upon a Number
Lori Fallon and Donna Bertini – Love of Reading Initiative
Renne Bock – Music Before Words
Christopher Yack – Indoor Gardens
Aris Demato – Building Our Brains While Building With Blocks
Shequana Wright – Teaching Math Through Literacy
What They Can Do For You
Are you an early childhood professional with creative ideas for your work with young children? If you belong to the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children (NYSAEYC), try translating one of these ideas into an application for funding. There may be a Mini Grant waiting for you.
Each year, NYSAEYC gives several small awards, in amounts up to $500, to applicants who submit the most effective proposals to enhance children’s programs. A Mini Grant can also benefit you. NYSAEYC views the process of shaping your idea into a fundable proposal and carrying out a winning project as an opportunity: one that opens the doors to professional growth and early childhood community building.
Over the years, Mini-Grants have helped many NYSAEYC members develop their career skills. Because of the program, they have tried things they might have otherwise not tried. They learned to think through what they wanted to do, to anticipate outcomes and convey their ideas simply and concisely. And they found themselves using feedback to make corrections and devise solutions. In short, they developed the skills needed to plan well and communicate clearly.
The resources organized or created through these grants have led to yet another benefit for winners: a storehouse of activities and materials to use in the future. The creative process is a chain with many links, a learning adventure that doesn’t stop with the original idea but continues right through the implementation phase. An unforeseen benefit of the grant process has been the building of stronger ties to the early childhood community. Involving other teachers and parents in planning and implementation helps to build support that goes far beyond the immediate project. One recipient wrote, “I have found a whole new family of childhood believers in my own backyard as well as throughout New York State.”
Finally, each year’s grant winners present their project at the NYSAEYC state conference. The awards are also announced in the organization’s newsletter, The Reporter.
A Mini Grant can bring recognition to you and your program. Give it a try!
What Kinds of Projects and Applicants Can Receive a Mini Grant?
The Mini Grant program began in 1984. Over the years, funding has gone to teachers, assistant teachers, family day care providers, administrators, consultants, college professors, professional groups and many others. Successful projects have included such topics as: parent-child relationships, home-school links, curriculum development, literacy, staff and pre-service training, assessment and conflict resolution. These are examples but there are many more possibilities.
One underrepresented area has been post secondary early childhood programs. NYSAEYC encourages students and instructors to apply. A proposal might come from an individual student or intern; it might be organized by an instructor and a group of students as a class project; or it might be developed cooperatively by a student intern, a supervising instructor and a cooperating teacher. Again, these are examples and should not limit your thinking.
When considering whether to proceed with an idea, it is important only to remember that the project must in some way – directly or indirectly – enhance programs for young children. Its objectives and activities must be developmentally appropriate, and other groups must be able to replicate it easily at minimum cost.
How Are Proposals Judged?
All proposals are evaluated and scored by an awards committee, using the following criteria:
Rationale: Is the proposal based on developmentally appropriate principles of early care and education? Does it enhance the overall program and foster child development
Objectives: Are these clearly stated in measurable, observable terms?
Activities: Are these clearly related to the objectives? Do they include some creative strategies? Are they developmentally appropriate for the targeted group of children?
Evaluation Measures: Are these designed to properly assess attainment of the objectives? Are measures manageable and not too complex?
Budget: Is the funding request consistent with the project plan? Do the selected items reflect developmentally appropriate practice?
Replication: Can this project be duplicated easily and at a minimum cost to other groups?
In writing your proposal, keep it clear and concise, but, above all, be sure to respond directly to the criteria. Shape your idea to make it fit. As in test taking, the best tip for writing a successful proposal is: Answer the questions.