Modern School budgets are being stretched to cover much more than they used to in years past. For teachers, this means that many things, like writing supplies and tissues, must be purchased out of their own pockets.
While this is already problematic, when it comes to larger expenses like technology that could improve learning outcomes for their students, teachers are often at the whim of the school or district budgeting and bond process. Often, teachers are the last people to be consulted for educational technology purchases, and when they are, they have little decision-making.
With budgetary hurdles like these, it can seem impossible for educators to get everything they need for their classrooms. Luckily, there are options other than pestering parents or paying out of pocket.
Organizations around the world, from the purely philanthropic to companies looking to bolster their public image, have set up funds to help educational facilities acquire what they need. Whether it is a grant, donation, or crowdfunding campaign, educators have more options than ever before to find partners to help them get the resources they need without dipping into their personal finances. Here are a few ways educators can get funding for their classroom needs:
Get a Grant
There are thousands of grants available to educators looking to improve their classrooms. Of the various types of grants available to K-12 teachers, two of the most common types are federal and private. A grant is not a loan, and funds will never need to be repaid; however, they can come with some minor strings attached. Private grantors may want to follow up to know how the grant has improved the lives of the students. Federal and state funding may require a school to meet certain requirements for eligibility.
Federal grants are economic aid issued by the United States government. You can find a massive listing of federal grants on Grants.gov; filter results by the “Education” category.
The private sector also has plenty to offer when it comes to grants. Unlike federal grants, private sector funding does come from any federal, state, or any other public agency. Instead, these grants are funds distributed to the community based on the issuing organization’s mission – many of which include helping educators. Some examples of private grants that help K-12 teachers include; Limeades for Learning, The Toyota USA Foundation, The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
Websites such as Inside Philanthropy are a good place to start when looking for private funding for your classroom. Edutopia is another great resource for finding classroom funding.
Crowdfunding is a great way for educators to leverage their community for funding. Websites like DonorsChoose.org or AdoptAClassroom.org make it easy to organize a project proposal and quickly share it with a large number of individuals and private organizations that may be interested in partially or fully funding materials for educators.
Typically, this involves the educator writing out a proposal with information on how the addition to their classroom will benefit students. They then share their proposal to their community, asking for small-dollar donations that add up to fund their request. Often, private organizations partner with these sites, and much like the private grant process, award funding to projects that align with their mission. FrontRow is currently working with DonorsChoose.org to fund 20% of the material costs for classroom audio projects that use the Juno classroom audio system in an effort to give every educator the ability to overcome the hidden barriers to learning in the classroom.
Much like a gift registry, many educators have taken to developing a wish list on sites like Amazon.com, allowing parents and other members of their community the option of purchasing much-needed items for their classrooms. Sharing these lists with their supporters via their school’s social media profiles, or on the school website helps the educator reach a larger audience. In many cases, booster organizations or the school’s PTA is a great place to start. While these organizations are deeply invested in the school’s success, they are not directly managed by the school district and have complete discretion on where they are interested in spending the funds they gather from their community. Preparing a compelling narrative on how the intended purchase will benefit students before reaching out will help educators successfully convince their local PTA. After all, they are there to provide a voice for their children.
It’s well known that schools struggle to fund everything needed to give their students the best education they possibly can. When educators reach hurdles filling the needs of their students, they have options. Grants, crowdfunding, and donations are tools that every educator should be aware of to leverage federal and state funding or even their community to help them improve their learning environment.