By Karen Greenwood Henke, Founder of Grant Wrangler
Did you know that teachers spend an average of almost $500 of their own money on supplies for the classroom each year?
Yet, foundations in the U.S. give away billions, yes, that's right, billions of dollars to support education. There are grants and awards for almost everything: classroom projects, technology, curriculum development, field trips, school gardens, educational travel, teacher recognition, and more.
As a parent, you can help your favorite teacher find these opportunities and make your child's classroom a rich, welcoming place full of wonder and excitement for learning. Here are 10 tips for finding funding for your school.
Grants and awards are typically made to the school, so it is important that you search for grants that match the school's needs. The school or district may already be pursuing grants. You can help review proposals or identify new sources. School districts used to hire a grant writer to help with this process, but those jobs are far and few between today. You'll want to find out about your school's resources so you can coordinate your efforts.
Some grants are made directly to classroom teachers. Grants fall into several categories: classroom supplies, subject area support (science, history, government, arts, literacy, etc.), lesson or curriculum development, and awards for past projects. Ask the teacher about upcoming activities and plans to brainstorm what the class needs. Grants often come with obligations so it's important to work closely with the teacher to determine which ones might be best.
Before you start googling "classroom grants," save some time by making a list of keywords to narrow your search. Some typical grant topics to use in your search:
Even though there are billions of dollars out there, many opportunities are hidden deep within grant-giving Web sites. Educational publications and grant listing services can help you search for grants without trolling the whole Internet. Many of these services have alert emails you can subscribe to for updates. Some sites require a subscription, but there are plenty of free resources as well.
Grant-giving Web sites are often tricky to navigate. Look for the most critical information first: the deadline, eligibility requirements, and judging criteria. If you can, take a look at the application. Do you think the amount of time required to complete the application is in proportion to the amount of the award? If not, move on to the next grant.
Several different types of organizations offer grants for schools and classrooms. Grants and awards from associations like the National Gardening Association, International Reading Association or National Science Teachers Association may require membership to apply. Corporate foundations often give to their local community, but many offer national grants such as General Mills Home Town Helper grants and Oracle's ThinkQuest program. Many communities have community foundations and family foundations that give based on their particular areas of interest.
These are grants that your school can easily incorporate into their planned activities. Unless you are on the school board or in a community leadership position, avoid multi-year, major reform projects. These grants require significant support and organizational resources.
Most teachers are pressed for time. Don't send them every grant you find, but give them a short list of the most relevant grants. Include:
Offer to help, but let the teacher decide how to proceed.
You can help with the application by conducting research or reviewing the teacher's draft. Use the judging criteria or last year's winners to make sure that the proposal is a good match. Other things to look for:
Most grants are competitive, which means there will be winners and "non-winners." If your teacher wins, help implement the grant by volunteering your time or researching bargains on the items to be purchased. You could even notify the local press about the award (with the school's permission). If your classroom doesn't win, acknowledge the effort and encourage the teacher to try again.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.