Grant Guidelines


Applications are open for the 2022-2023 school year.  Need more information on how to get started with your application?  Check out the information below detailing the Beyond the Books application process.




  • Applicants must be employees of District 87 and/or Unit 5. Both certified and support staff are eligible to receive grant awards.
  • Grants will be awarded without regard to an applicant’s school district, race, age, creed, gender or national origin.
  • In the event the recipient relocates to another position, school, or out-of-district, the grant may be withdrawn. However, if it can be demonstrated that the project will be carried out as envisioned within District 87 and/or Unit 5, the grant may be retained with BTBEF approval.
  • Prior grant recipients are eligible to apply.

Grant Types & Funding Amounts

BEYOND THE BOX — One grant between $7,500 and $10,000
STANDARD — Limited to requests for $401 to $5000.
MINI — Limited to $400 or less


One grant in the amount between $7500 and $10,000 will be awarded in this category for an exceptional proposal. The $7500 – $10,000 award is given by a private foundation to Beyond the Books Educational Foundation and BTBEF selects the winner.

You may submit applications with the same proposal in both the Standard and Beyond the Box categories. If you choose to do so, you must use the same title for both applications and within the Beyond the Box application, clearly explain how the extra money would be used. Only one of the two applications may receive an award.


  • Any collaborator who wishes to be able to edit your application AND/OR receive an award letter and be recognized if your grant application is funded MUST be identified as such by adding them as a collaborator on SM Apply. This can be done any time you log into SM Apply.
  • When you begin an application or click on your existing application from your portal (the “My Applications” page), there will be an “Add collaborator” button on the left. Once you start editing your application, the button disappears and you will need to go back to your portal for it to be accessible again. You can add collaborators at any time until you mark the application complete. These instructions are on the personal information form in SM Apply.


  • SM Apply will open for submissions at 8:00 AM on Monday, December 6th, 2021, and will close at 5:00 PM on Monday, March 7th, 2022.
  • Applications MUST be submitted via SM Apply. Alternate submissions (via USPS, email, etc) will NOT be accepted. Log in or register here to apply:
  • To get started on your application before logging onto SM Apply, please use the “Grant Application Planning Guide”.
  • Be aware there are different word limits for each required response. These are noted in both the application and the planning guide.
  • When the application is complete, the applicant will click the “Mark as Complete” button. The applicant will then complete the “Principal Permission” task by entering their principal’s name and email address. This will trigger an email to the principal asking for their approval.
  • Once the principal approves the application, it will automatically be submitted to BTBEF.
  • The deadline for principal approval/submission is Monday, March 7, at 5:00 PM. Be sure to “Mark as Complete” early enough for your principal to be able to meet this deadline
  • SM Apply does NOT accept edits or uploads to applications once they are forwarded to the principal for approval.
  • Once the application has been automatically submitted, the applicant will receive a confirmation email.

Guiding Criteria for All Grant Proposals

  • All applications (Beyond the Box, Standard, and Mini) will be scored using the rubrics.
  • Proposals will be evaluated on:
    • Innovation and creativity
    • Clarity of goals and objectives
    • Impact on student achievement
    • Collaboration with others
    • Effectiveness of teaching strategies
    • Sustainability or justification for a one-time event
    • Evaluation of outcomes
    • Realistic and complete budget that aligns with program goals
  • BTBEF is committed to a blind review. Applications that include any name(s) of district(s), school(s), staff member(s) or other identifying information (such as mascot, school colors, etc.) will be ‘returned without review’. Careful proofreading will help avoid an application being ‘returned without review’. Applications are not reviewed until the deadline has closed so there is no opportunity to rewrite the proposal and remove any identifying information that violates the blind review policy.

Budget Preparation

  • An itemized list for all budget expenditures is required. Each expenditure must include item name, description, price, etc. (Do not group all items together and label as “supplies,” etc.)
  • The Budget must strongly align with proposal goals.
  • Salaries of district employees and substitute staff are not funded; outside personnel (such as honorariums) may be considered.
  • Professional development will not be funded. For example, registration fees for workshops and/or conferences, travel, lodging, food, and like expenses of district employees will not be funded.
  • Food should not be a major element of the grant. Include food only if it is essential to the success of the project and explain why.
  • Technology that is requested should be used in innovative ways, and/or have significant impact on student achievement. Technology should be a tool to support, or an integral part of, a well-defined project.
  • School districts are exempt from taxes and should not be included in the budget.
  • If the budget includes labor costs exceeding $100 you must secure a bid for the work from a local source. In addition to a description of the work to be done and materials, include the name of the company, an invoice number, and the total cost of the bid. The invoice must be made available upon request.
  • Funding for consumable supplies/materials or one-time experiences must be justified.

Foundation Expectations

  • The grant must be used solely for the purpose described in the application.
  • Foundation approval must be obtained before any changes may be made in the scope of the project, or in the recipient.
  • Grant winners are to request funds from the business office of their district and the district will administer the disbursement of grant dollars. The Foundation will forward all awarded funds to each district after June 1, 2022.
  • Funds must be used during the summer of 2022 or the 2022-2023 school year; otherwise, funds may be forfeited.
  • The Beyond the Box Grant recipient must, by September 15, 2023, submit a complete report of the grant work and outcomes to BTBEF as provided in the award information. This report will be forwarded to the private foundation that sponsors the award.
  • Recipients of a Standard Grant or Mini Grant will be asked to complete a survey at the end of the 2022-2023 year in order to provide BTBEF with details of the project and process.
  • BTBEF appreciates public acknowledgment of the benefits to student learning that is provided through the financial support of the Foundation.
  • Printed materials resulting from work carried out under the grant should specifically acknowledge support of the Foundation.

Grant Writing Resources

Review each of these resources before you start your grant application!

Grant Writing FAQs

Grant Writing Tips


Planning Guide 

Grant Application Rubrics

All applications (Beyond the Box, Standard, and Mini) will be scored using the rubrics found below, or on the pages for each grant level. For the current grant cycle, the three rubrics are identical.

Rubric for Beyond the Box Grant

Rubric for Standard Grant

Rubric for Mini Grant