Making the PRO Grant Work for Your School - Patricia Bulley and Lisa MacDonald
We have participated in the process of applying for PRO (Parents Reaching Out) GRANTS since 2011. This Ministry grant is a fantastic initiative that helps school councils to reach out and engage their parent community.
Receiving a PRO Grant offers schools the financial support to provide resources and gives the parent council the opportunity to address critical issues within their community. It's great how each school can apply for what is essential and relevant to that individual school community.
These grants help to bring parents together and assists in addressing extremely important topics such as: mental health, healthy living, internet safety, understanding money, dealing with bullying and more.
It has been our experience that the best way to engage parents is by including the children.
Inviting parents and children to the same event or having something for the children in the day to get the children talking about the topic, and then hosting something for the parents in the evening are options to consider.
We decide on what to apply for based on community needs. Each year we discuss our school need at our council meetings, realizing that not everyone can make it to the meetings, we reach out to the greater community by sending out a survey. Once the data is collected we decide on what to apply for.
There are a number of service-based organizations that provide excellent programming that can be funded using the PRO Grant. In the past we have assisted in organizing successful outreach using:
• Cent$ible Students http://www.centsiblestudents.ca/contact.html
• Arts Express http://www.artsexpress.ca
• SCREENAGERS https://www.screenagersmovie.com/find-a-screening/
Toronto District School Board partners can be found at https://pims.tdsb.on.ca/Home.aspx/OurPartners. Some of these organizations may be appropriate for a PRO Grant submission.
The PRO Grant is also fairly flexible. A school council can “build” their own PRO Grant event ie. for wellness events that feature nutrition, cooking, yoga or even a family game night.
Many councils may be intimidated by the idea of writing a PRO Grant submission. The format is very simple and user-friendly. At the time of submission you need to know the basic WHAT, HOW and WHY, but they only require one or two sentences for each category. Any school who has successfully completed a PRO Grant would likely be willing to share their template of the application – we certainly would!