Your school needs technology resources now more than ever, but your district can’t afford them. What do you do?
Start writing your grant, says Sheryl Abshire, a veteran K-12 educator and accomplished grant writer.
Edtech grants are a great way to fill the gap between what a school needs and what a district can afford. They’re widely available from government, corporations and foundations, and they can deliver funding for hardware, technology-related professional development, even a broader technology program.
“There’s more money out there than you have time to write for,” says Abshire, formerly the chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish School Board in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “You can find funding for whatever you want to do.”
But to get it, you’ve got to start writing.
Here’s the best news, according to Abshire: “If you write a grant, you will get a grant.”
You may not get it the very first time, she acknowledges. But once you’ve written that first application, you have everything you need to find another grant, rework your application and try again.
As you write or rework your grant application, keep the funder in mind, Abshire says. Funders like innovation. They’re interested in funding technology uses that improve student learning beyond the norm and that can be replicated elsewhere, which makes their original contribution more powerful. They also have specific goals.
The key is to figure out what you need, develop an innovative strategy, look for the funding sources whose objectives align with your needs, and then demonstrate that alignment with your application.
“It’s a very delicate, intricate dance that involves writing with your eye to what the request for proposal is directing you to do,” she says.
Abshire will teach more grant-writing dance steps at her ISTELive 21 presentation, Technology Grants: Write It, Sell It, Get It. It’s a dance the 43-year veteran educator knows well from both her 22-plus years as the Calcasieu district’s chief technology officer and her role as a grant reader and proposal evaluator for corporations, foundations and both the U.S. Department of Education and state education departments.
In her ISTELive 21 presentation, she’ll share the key to writing great grants, the top 10 questions reviewers ask when funding proposals, and such resources as a technology initiative funding website and potential funding sources.
Here are a handful of the technology funding resources that Abshire recommends exploring:
Bank of America Foundation — This foundation funds education with an emphasis on K-12, including after-school programs, early childhood development, English as a second language, financial literacy and youth mentoring programs.
Computers for Learning — This program donates surplus federal computer equipment to schools and educational nonprofits, giving special consideration to those with the greatest need.
George Lucas Educational Foundation — Although not a source for funding, this sites contains a myriad of sites and sources of information about grants.
Grants Information Collection — The University of Wisconsin maintains a comprehensive site with grant resources.
Chris Frisella is a freelance writer who explores educational technology and its power to reshape learning and lives.