Getting Started

This guide walks you through the grant development process and provides information about San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) guidelines on grant writing and administration. We want this process to be as simple as possible and welcome your comments on how to improve our web pages, guidelines, and procedures.

Step # 1 – Plan Ahead

Writing a grant proposal is the last step in a long planning and program development process.

Do your homework before you begin to identify support for your project. Know what you want to do and consult with your Division Director or Assistant Superintendent to make sure that your idea is in alignment with SJCOE’s mission and departmental goals. This allows for a proactive instead of reactive approach when grant opportunities become available.

The Grant Development Office (GDO) can help with developing ideas for proposals, please contact us at

Step # 2 – Search for Funding Sources

Search for funding sources that fit what you want to do, not vice versa. Go to the GDO’s Find Funding page to see a list of current grant opportunities.

The GDO also has access to a sophisticated grant search engine. Feel free to contact us at if you need help finding additional funding sources for your project. Once you have identified some potential funding sources, you are ready for the next step.

Step # 3 – Meet With the Grant Development Office

Contact the GDO to set up a planning meeting and complete SJCOE’s Intent to Apply form .

This meeting will help to clarify roles, identify internal and external deadlines, determine whether other programs or individuals should be included, review allowable and unallowable expenses, and what the process involves. This short meeting will also help us determine whether your proposed project or funding source is not already targeted by SJCOE. Most importantly, it ensures that we do not submit conflicting or competing proposals to the same funding source, or proposals that compromise long-term fundraising activities. If the particular funding source you have identified is already committed to another project, the GDO will help identify other potential funding sources.

Step # 4 – Write the Grant Proposal

Most funding sources are very specific about what they want, and how they want it.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to write the grant proposal, gather appropriate supporting data and documents, proof and edit, request and collect letters of support or commitment, secure grant budget review and approval from SJCOE’s Business Services Division, gather signatures of authorized signers (see Step #6 below), and compile the grant application.

Don’t do it alone. Assemble a team to work with you. You may need expertise in some areas of the application that you don’t have (such as evaluation, statistics, etc.). Applications that reflect partnerships are often more competitive.

Grant writing tips can be found on our Resources page.

Step # 5 – Submit Your Final Draft to the GDO for Review

Once your grant application is in final draft form, we encourage you to email it to the GDO at at least five working days before the submission deadline for review. This allows for a second set of eyes to review the proposal, and time for appropriate edits, additions, and clarifications. If necessary, the GDO will consult with the Business Services Division on grant proposals. If you have less than five days of lead time on a proposal, contact the GDO immediately to work out a timeline.

Step # 6 – Submit the Proposal

STOP! Only authorized signers have the authority to enter into binding contracts on behalf of SJCOE. You may not sign off on your own proposal. The GDO may assist in securing required signatures and submitting the final proposal.

Step # 7 – Wait

Now you wait. Depending on the funding source, it may take several months before a decision is made. Once a decision is made about funding, a notice may be sent by the funder. Notify the GDO immediately if you receive such a notice. In the meantime, you may consider working on your next grant, or find other funding sources to which you can submit the same grant.

Step # 8 – Congratulations! Manage Your Grant

If your grant is approved, SJCOE will receive a grant agreement or contract that can only be signed by authorized signers. You may work with the GDO to review both SJCOE’s and the funder’s policies on grant administration. You will work with your program’s Budget Contact in Business Services to ensure fiscal compliance.

Alternative Step # 8 – If You Don’t Succeed... Try Again

Due to limited funding and high levels of competition, success rates on first applications are less than 20 percent. However, the success rate on subsequent applications increases because the funding source will tell you how you can improve it. You will often get the grant reviewer’s comments in writing. If not, ask for it. With this feedback, you can revise, improve, and resubmit your proposal in the next funding cycle. Go back to Step # 1 and start over. Think long term.