Grant Guidelines

Grant Guidelines


Applications will open for the 2023-2024 school year on Monday, December 4th, 2023 and remain open until Monday, March 4th, 2024.  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  • In the event the recipient relocates to another position, school, or out-of-district, the grant may be withdrawn.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 $801 to $5000.
MINI — Limited to $800 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.


  • Applications MUST be submitted via SM Apply. Alternate submissions (via USPS, email, etc) will
    NOT be accepted. Log in or register here to apply:
  • SM Apply will open for submissions at 8:00 AM on Monday, December 4th, 2023, and will close
    at 11:59 PM on Monday, March 4th, 2024.
  • To get started on your application before logging onto SM Apply, please use the "Grant Application
    Planning Guide" found at
  • 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 4, at 11:59 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

Guiding Criteria for All Grant Proposals


  • Proposals will be evaluated on:
    • Innovation and project description and clarity
    • 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


  • A list of every item in your budget. (Do not group items together with general labels such as “books” $500 or "painting supplies" $200.  Itemize with names and cost of each book, paintbrush, etc.)
  • Item name, description, and price-per-item for each expenditure.
  • Supplier’s estimate (upon request) for any labor costs exceeding $100.


  • Compensation for district employees or substitute staff (compensation for outside personnel, such as honorariums, is permitted)
  • Professional development expenses (registration fees, travel, lodging, etc.)
  • Expenses for food, unless it is essential to the success of the project (explain)
  • Taxes (school districts have tax-exempt status)

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 July 1, 2023.
  • Funds must be used during the summer of 2023 or the 2023-2024 school year; otherwise, funds
    may be forfeited.
  • The Beyond the Box Grant recipient must, by September 15, 2024, 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 2023-2024 school 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 


Sample Application 


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