The 2017 Grants Guide: How and where to secure funding for ESSA, STEM, EdTech, and Professional Development
Large and small grants for teachers and schools are available to fill in funding gaps when budgets are tight. For most educators, this means securing extra monies to support STEM programs, add more technology to classrooms, and get the Professional Development needed to advance knowledge and make the most of new technologies and EdTech tools.
Here’s what you need to know.
The fundamentals of teacher grants
Before you even begin your search for a grant, there are four major things to consider.
- Make sure your administration support and approve of your funding search.
- Have a solid plan in place.
- Start as early as you can and include your colleagues.
- Before you begin to look for state, federal, or corporate grants, check to see if there is an administrator in your district. Find out if you PTA or PTO offers in-house grants, and if your local Chamber of Commerce can provide you with a list of local business ready to provide funding for your type of project.
Understand what it takes to write a winning grant
Be clear about what mission you want to accomplish with the funding you receive, and when you apply, make sure you have the right match for your mission. Here are 8 tips to consider:
1. Make sure you have the right match. Once you are sure that you need a grant, look for grant opportunities that match your program’s goals and objectives. Understand the mission of the grantor, look at previously funded programs, and determine the range of grant awards typically awarded by that agency.
2. Understand guidelines and requirements. Most funding agencies publish grant guidelines or requirements. Be certain you understand them and follow them to the letter. Note the deadline and whether the proposal must be received or postmarked by that date.
3. Be clear about your mission. Your “needs statement” drives your entire grant proposal. The proposed program should be clearly based on the challenges you face. The purpose of the grant is to meet the specific needs you have identified, so adequately describe the reason you need the program and include the use of statistics and other research data when possible.
4. Write a golden project abstract. Most proposals, particularly foundation and corporate proposals, require a project abstract. The abstract defines your entire project—needs, goals, objectives, and budget—within a few paragraphs or a page at most. This summary is usually read first. Grant writers often find it helpful to save writing the abstract for last because you can include excerpts from your own text, edited to suit the shorter format. Make the abstract easier to read by using subheads and bullets. Use the active voice in your abstract.
5. Use “SMART” goals. Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable (or attainable with budget), relevant, and time-bound. Every proposal will require at least one section that describes the broad goals and measurable objectives of your project. Take the time to detail the activities that will be implemented to accomplish the program’s goals and objectives. Your budget and budget narrative must closely match the described activities. Your evaluation should carefully measure whether the stated project objectives are being met on a timely basis.
6. Don’t do it alone. Work with other educators and parents, especially those who have a passion for the project—and even better, grant writing experience!
7. Write a standout cover letter. Your cover letter should not simply repeat the information in the proposal; it is different from the abstract or needs statement which is a concise summary of the complete project/proposal. The cover letter should bring your project to life and actively engage the recipient in one page with 3 to 4 paragraphs. Keep your tone positive.
- Your first paragraph should be short and focused. Introduce yourself and your district or school, and summarize any recent communication with the funding organization.
- State your purpose, the amount of money you are requesting, and who it will serve.
- Explain how your request fit the funder’s mission or funding priorities.
- Include a final thought about what this funding partnership can mean, and focus on solutions, not problems.
8. Be grateful and collaborative. Even if your proposal is not funded, it is a good policy to send a thank you note to the grantor for the opportunity to submit your proposal. Ask if it is possible to receive reviewer comments so that you can see why your proposal was not funded. Use the reviewer comments to improve your proposal-writing techniques. If you are selected, keep your funder informed about the progress of your project, particularly about documenting results—it can make it easier to obtain your next round of grant.
- Where can you find teacher grants for the classroom? Government agencies and businesses offer grants for STEM and EdTech and for many other areas as well. A great place to start is to use search engines like The Foundation Center, Grants for Teachers, GrantWatch, and Twitter.
Finding grants for Professional Development
Great teachers are always looking for new ways to expand their instruction and engage their students. Innovative teaching, understanding the best way to expand instruction and engage students, particularly in STEM. Getting PD needed, however, can be expensive. Luckily, there are grants specifically for teachers who provide STEM instruction. For example, NCTM has a number of Professional Development grants and awards. For details and information about deadlines, click here.