Too often teachers get excited when they learn about a new teaching tool but hesitate to ask for funding because they know that school budgets are limited. Here's a little secret: Schools have more money than you think! Educational funding comes to schools in so many different shapes and forms, you are likely unaware of all of the funding possibilities that are available to your school.
Don't be afraid to ask! School administrators want to give you the tools and technology you need to run successful programs. But they don’t have the same perspective as a classroom teacher. They likely don’t know what will benefit your classrooms most because they are not immersed in the classroom experience as you are. It is your job as a teacher to identify the tools and technologies that will enhance your students' learning outcomes and share these opportunities with the decision makers in your schools. But don’t just stop there. An informal conversation about equipment needs falls short of a decisive request that demands follow through. Submit a formal funding request so your administrators know that you are serious about your request and they are much more likely to give proper attention to your proposal.
If your administrator is hesitant to provide funding for your purchase request, you may want to remind them of some possible funding opportunities that are available to educators. Here are just a few of the funding opportunities that we are aware of through our experience in education:
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund of 2021-22 is available to local education agencies (LEAs) to address the impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation. These funds are intended to provide school teachers and leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools, including purchasing educational technology (hardware, software, and connectivity) for students. Talk to your school administrator about utilizing these limited-time funds for your classroom needs.
If the classes you teach fall under Career and Technical Education (CTE), you are in luck! CTE programs are typically well funded through National Perkins dollars. These funds are used each year to more fully develop the academic, career, and technical skills of students enrolled in secondary and postsecondary CTE programs. Equipment approval can often be as simple as completing a purchase request or letting your CTE specialist know you have a certain equipment need.
Be sure to inquire about your school or district's policies on using CTE money for equipment purchases and make a formal request to receive funding for your classroom purchase.
School Trust Lands Money
Depending on which state you reside in, your school may have a specific amount of Trust Lands money available each year to purchase needed equipment and supplies. While each LEA has different procedures, teachers/administrators will typically issue a request for Trust Lands money to their school or district, outlining an explanation of the equipment or supplies needed and the purpose of the expense. Applications are then reviewed and approved by school community councils and funds are released.
The following states have school Trust Lands monies available each year: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
As demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers have increased, funding for such programs is often available to schools and districts. Check with your school or district to see if there are monies available for STEM education. The following links will give you more information about STEM grants.
Donors Choose is a crowd funding site similar to KickStarter, but specifically for teachers. Public school teachers from across the U.S. can create classroom project requests that donors can view and choose to fund. It's really a fantastic concept that has benefited millions of students for over a decade.
Ask if your school or district has a foundation grant. Local community members often support their schools by donating to a specific foundation that is used to fund needed programs in education. Grant applications usually require specific information about the equipment or supplies needed, the amount that is being requested, and an explanation of how the purchase will benefit students.
Finding a grant to fund your project might feel intimidating but the truth of the matter is there are many grants and programs available to teachers.
While there are many websites available to help teachers find a grant specific to their needs, we especially liked Canyons School District's page on technology-specific grants. The site offers a lot of useful information including current grant listings, grant writing, and corporate grants available to teachers. http://edtech.canyonsdistrict.org/grants.html
Written by Kelly Seale
CEO, KeyMaster Electronics
Revolutionizing Keyboarding Education