In my end-of-year column last month, I mentioned that newspapers and magazines are uniquely positioned to utilize government grants to pay for on-site training. I first became aware of this when Joel Washburn invited me to visit his paper for a day in McKenzie, Tennessee, to offer training for his entire staff a few years ago. While there, he shared that the state of Tennessee was funding my visit through a small business grant.
Since then, I’ve worked with papers in several states that have received grants to pay the entire bill for my services to offer on-site training. These grants covered the training and costs related to travel and any other expenses.
A few months ago, I assisted a weekly newspaper in another state in creating a report to be submitted to their state in hopes of acquiring a significant grant that would pay all costs related to on-site training for their staff in spring 2022. What a great Christmas present I received when I heard from the publisher of that paper to let me know the state approved the grant, and I’ll be heading to their location for several days this spring. Their grant will cover all expenses for travel and training while I’m on-site, plus six months of monthly online training and consulting for their staff afterward. Yes, it was a significant “chunk of change,” but I wasn’t surprised to learn it had been approved.
Having been involved in helping several newspapers receive grants, I’ve learned a few things that are important when applying to states for funds:
- It helps if your newspaper is locally owned. Most of the small business grants I’ve helped newspapers acquire were designated for locally owned small businesses offering training for their staff.
- It helps if the training benefits every person on staff. If I remember correctly, every time I’ve worked on-site with a grant recipient, it was to work with every staff person, including reporters, designers, editors, publishers, circulation staff, ad reps, and anyone else on the payroll. Granting organizations tend to fund groups that will most benefit from training.
- It helps to ask for larger grants. It may seem like it would be easier to get a smaller grant than a larger one, but that’s often not the case. I’ve served on boards of several granting organizations over the years and know first-hand that it’s easier to give out money in large chunks than in smaller amounts. This spring, the group I’ll be visiting requested the maximum grant offered and was successful.
- It helps to have a local contact, even though grants might be offered by the state. There’s probably someone in your county government who works directly with small businesses. That’s an excellent place to begin.
Here’s my advice concerning grants for staff training. Contact the person in your county who deals with small businesses. Ask if they can provide information concerning grants provided by the state (or county) for small business training.
Feel free to let me know if I can help with a grant proposal. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your chances are pretty good of receiving a small business grant from your state.