The Power of the Pen: Leveraging Federal Grants to Enhance School Safety in 2024

Schools Can Access More Grant Money Than Ever to Enhance Security and Safety, But Careful Consideration of Deadlines and Processes Makes the Difference

By Steve Prodger

School safety remains a significant concern today as risks rise and security incidents negatively impact educational environments. In 2024, the process of helping better ensure safety at schools continues amid a growing risk landscape: as of April 18, 2024, there have been at least 18 school shootings in the United States, according to CNN's analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, Education Week and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Fortunately, there are ways to help schools enhance their security efforts. Grant funding is now available to improve safety measures in educational institutions, specifically K-12 schools. The School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) stands out among these opportunities. It provides federal grants to improve security at K-12 schools. This year up to $73M in funding is available, each award is three years in duration for a maximum federal share of $500,000 per award and up to 75% funding/25% match funds.

With the application deadline right around the corner — June 11, 2024, to submit your SF-424 form to and then the submission to Just Grants on June 17, 2024 — it's essential to review how you can secure your piece of the pie. This funding allows schools to implement new safety measures and technologies to foster safer student and staff environments.

Understanding the SVPP

The SVPP grant is designed to help schools secure funding for security enhancements in K-12 schools. It supports the implementation of evidence-based school safety programs and innovative technology solutions. The grant covers various school safety measures and strategies, including physical deterrents, communication technologies, and collaboration with law enforcement. Eligible projects range from installing metal detectors and improved lighting to integrating emergency alert systems and advanced video surveillance technologies. Modern technologies like AI-powered security cameras and cloud-based video surveillance services to monitor school premises and identify potential threats in real time are also covered as part of the funding.

Best Practices for Preparing a Competitive Grant Application

The inherent complexities of federal grant applications can be challenging, but preparation makes all the difference. Taking the time to work with an experienced consultant or carefully planning your strategy can determine whether your application is funded or overlooked. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

  • Navigating federal portals. Understanding how to access and use grant portals is essential. Schools must be familiar with platforms like and JustGrants to submit their applications successfully.
  • Developing a statement of need. It is crucial to clearly articulate the need for funding. This involves gathering relevant data and presenting a compelling case that demonstrates the proposed security measures' impact and necessity.
  • Avoiding common budgeting mistakes. Accurate budgeting is also vital. Applicants must ensure their budget aligns with their project goals and meets grant guidelines. Standard errors, such as underestimating costs or failing to provide matching funds or having a plan to fund the project after federal funds run out, can jeopardize the application.
  • Understanding attachment requirements. Federal grants often require various attachments, including letters of support, detailed project plans, and trending data. Ensuring the necessary documents are included and formatted is essential to avoid disqualification.

The Secret to Securing Funding

Collaboration among educators, law enforcement, administrators, and districts can significantly enhance the chances of securing grant funding. Schools can present a more substantial case by partnering with neighboring institutions, demonstrating a collective commitment to improving safety. For example, a joint proposal to fund cloud security services across multiple schools shows a shared effort to tackle a common issue, making the application more attractive to grant-making organizations.

Pooling resources and expertise allow schools to create comprehensive and robust grant applications. Engaging stakeholders from various institutions can bring diverse ideas and perspectives. Involving individuals who have successfully secured funding in the past can enhance your chances of success by providing valuable insights and proven strategies.

It is important to stress that grant writing should not be a siloed effort. Instead, it needs to be a collaborative process that harnesses a team's collective knowledge and experience. This teamwork mirrors the broader effort to secure our schools, emphasizing the importance of a united approach in the application process and the implementation of safety measures. By working together, schools can develop more compelling proposals that demonstrate a commitment to enhancing security and ensuring the safety of students and staff.

Common Pitfalls and Strategies for Success

Grant applications are complex, and schools must meticulously follow the Request for Funding Proposal (RFP) instructions to avoid rejection. Common pitfalls include using the wrong font size, omitting required documents, or submitting the application in an incorrect format. To prevent such errors, it is advisable to print and review the RFP and application thoroughly and have other members of your grant team review them before submitting.

Understanding the specific requirements and deadlines is crucial for successful grant applications. Schools must ensure they are eligible for the grant and assemble a dedicated team to manage the application process. It's essential to stay updated on any amendments to the grant guidelines, as these can change more than time. Data plays a critical role in demonstrating needs and expected outcomes. For instance, if your region is increasing in population or is in a high-risk area, data supporting this context is vital. Schools should also leverage data to highlight past successes and outline how new initiatives will improve safety. For example, if you used video intelligence to ensure a proactive approach to risk management, provide detailed examples of how this benefited your environment. This approach strengthens the case for funding by showcasing the practical impact of previous and proposed security measures.

A Safer, More Secure Future

Ensuring a safer future for our schools is essential for student success and educational excellence. Education is the foundation for our children's future and must be provided in a safe, secure, and open environment. The increased availability of grant funding through programs like the SVPP offers schools unprecedented opportunities to enhance security. By following best practices in grant writing, collaborating with other institutions, and leveraging advanced security technologies, schools can create safer environments for students and staff. While securing these funds may be challenging, the potential benefits make it worthwhile.

Steve Prodger is the chief revenue officer at Arcules.


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