Jan Mitchell Johnson ’86 describes herself as “the kind of person who finds a need and then goes out and creates something to fill it.” She was a middle school teacher in Texas, “minding my own business,” she says, when her principal approached her about writing a grant to the Texas Education Agency for a reading program.
Thanks to her first effort, the school district earned a $250,000 award and Mitchell Johnson secured a new career.
Mitchell Johnson devoted 14 years to Houston public schools as a teacher, technology coordinator, grants coordinator, assistant principal, and dean of instruction before leaving in 2002, to start her own grant writing, training, and consulting firm, Grantsformation. Since that time, she has won more than $142 million for public and charter school districts, and nonprofit clients all over the United States (from Alaska to California to Texas and even Arizona’s Navajo Nation) including two of the 49 Investing in Innovation (i3) grants in 2010 (out of 1700 applicants). Mitchell Johnson holds a B.S. in Elementary Education, an M. Ed. in Educational Administration, and two lifetime Texas teacher certifications.
Through intensive coaching sessions, Mitchell Johnson also enables others to raise money. For example, one Texas school district used what they learned in her sessions to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in less than one year.
Today, Mitchell Johnson is the Grants Director for Stand For Children, an education advocacy organization devoted to improving public schools and closing the achievement gap. As National Grants Director, she works to build development capacity across all Stand sites while also writing grants to support the agency’s national operations. Jonah Edelman is the CEO and founder of Stand for Children; he is the son of long-time children’s activist Marian Wright Edelman (Children’s Defense Fund).
Though she still does consulting on-the-side, Mitchell Johnson devotes upwards of 50 hours a week to her work at Stand, writing grants, reporting on the agency’s activities and training the agency’s development managers in the 11 states where Stand has a presence. The agency has a $21 million budget, and most of that is achieved through fundraising, according to Mitchell Johnson.
“I always knew I wouldn’t stay in the classroom,” said Mitchell Johnson. “I fell into this (grantwriting), but I’m really good at it.” And her margin of success is the proof.