Wish It

Dr. Mary Moss knows what she wants: She has an audacious wish to expand Charlotte Lab, a  public charter school in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, into a high school. She has goals around Intentional Diversity, College Readiness, Career Readiness, Global Readiness, Community involvement, and Student Wellness. She couldn’t do this with her current operating budget alone or even with the help of the impressive fundraising her school community already conducts. The US Department of Education offers a Charter School Program grant that would make her wish come true by awarding Lab up to $1.25 million to expand into an innovative high school.

To start the grant application process, she did what any strategic leader does, she assessed her resources, of which she has many. She has a talented and capable team, including an Assistant Director of Development, ​Head of External Affairs, EC Director, Head of Operations & Finance, a Head of Lower School, a Head of Middle School, and herself, a national leader in innovative schools and the co-author of How to Innovate: The Essential Guide for Fearless School Leaders. Even with all these people and all of these skills, she knew that to be awarded the money, Charlotte Lab needed help to do this grant and to do it properly. After all, they still have a school to run.

On March 14th, Dr. Mary Moss reached out to see if Leaders Building Leaders (LBL) could help. Lab needed a team that could dedicate one hundred percent of their time to the grant. She needed a team with expertise and experience. The LBL team includes former charter school leaders and a grant writer whose school was awarded this same Grant 3 years prior and has worked with teams that have been awarded over $2.5M.

”We need someone to keep us moving and keep us on time,” Dr. Moss said in our first meeting.  LBL said, “Not a problem,” and that evening, LBL mapped out a plan and sent it to Mary for approval.

She accepted the plan, and we were off to the races. We had three short weeks to write a grant that would end up being 47 pages long, not including the 126 page-long appendix.

Do It

The Charlotte Lab team was a dream to work with. They completed tasks before deadlines;  they asked thoughtful questions; and they tackled tasks outside their comfort zone. For example, getting letters of support from busy people in three quick weeks seemed like an impossible task. They asked for help, so LBL gave them a template. The Lab team got to work, and they knocked this task out of the park. In that short time, they collected 12 letters of recommendation, including letters from Congresswoman Dr. Alma Adams; President and CEO of Discovery Place, Catherine Horne; the Director of the Office of Charter Schools, Dave Machado; Charlotte Lab parents, Mr. and Mrs. Shweta Mehta; and the Managing Partner of Innovative Schools, Scott Benson. It seemed as if the entire city of Charlotte was cheering for Charlotte Lab to get this grant.

When everything was ready, Leaders Building Leaders pushed the submit button and called Mary. “It’s done. Now we wait.” We were first told that award notification would be made at the end of August; then it changed to mid-September; finally, we were told that notification would come by the end of September. On September 27th, Mary sent me a text, “Great news! Lab has been awarded $1.25 M dollars!” Leaders Building Leaders couldn’t be more thrilled for the Charlotte Lab team, and we are looking forward to working with them on grant management and attending the ribbon cutting when they open their high school.

What About You?

Now charter schools in North Carolina have the opportunity to apply for these funds through a much easier process because NC’s Office of Charter Schools was just awarded the Charter School Program grants. NC charter schools apply through the OCS instead of the Department of Education. What an exciting opportunity for NC charter schools!

There are four areas that the CSP grant will fund, including the following:

  • Assist new charter schools that will serve a large economically disadvantaged student population in their planning year.
  • Assist charter schools in their first three years of operation that serve a large, economically disadvantaged student population.
  • Assist high-quality charter schools that serve a large economically disadvantaged population and want to replicate.
  • Assist high-quality charter schools that want to expand to serve a larger economically disadvantaged population.

Is your school a good candidate for one of these grants? Do you have a wish for your school that you’d like to work on? If you’d like expert assistant in grant management and writing for this grant or other grants, email us at Katy@Leaders-Building-Leaders.com. We’d love to help your school’s dreams come true!

This blog was written by Katy Ridnouer, Leadership Coach, Speaker and Trainer with Leaders Building Leaders. If you found this content valuable, please share it.

If you want to explore grant writing opportunities or other areas of school leadership, contact Katy at  Katy@Leaders-Building-Leaders.com for a complimentary discovery session. You create the agenda; you bring the challenges. Let Katy be your thought partner.

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