Friday, July 19, 2013

Classroom Grants

I'm very lucky in that my school district is supported by an education foundation. The foundation, supported by local businesses and citizens, provides scholarships for seniors and grants up to $2,000 for teachers in our district. I've submitted a grant every year since the program's inception, and I was lucky enough to have my very first idea selected for funding. That year I received 6 Flip videos cameras, and my class did a variety of projects that we posted to our class website. It was a very successful first step into movie making, but my students have come a long way since then.

My other submissions have not been selected, and as I watched the local news report at noon I was shocked to see a "Learning Matters" news piece on the very concept that my teammates and I proposed in our latest grant. Due to high levels of anxiety and lower levels of physical fitness, we proposed sensory cushions and stability balls to use on and in place of the chairs in our classroom. We were able to find suppliers that would allow us to purchase 40 cushions and 45 stability balls, enough for almost our entire team if the other teachers chose to participate, for a little over $2,000. While the foundation felt like our proposal did not merit funding, the local news felt a teacher's effort to do the exact same thing were worthy of a spot in their education program. If this was good enough to be on the news, then dog-gone-it, why wasn't it worthy enough to be in our classrooms??

I've written grants for the foundation program, but I've never searched outside my district to fund programs for my classroom until today. I knew there was a website specifically for teachers to request funding, but do you think I could remember its name or figure out the right keywords for it to pop up in a search? Heck no! This is where my wonderful Twitter friends stepped in. I sent out and quick tweet, and wah-lah, there was my answer!

And that is how I managed to procrastinate today's to-do list! Having been pointed to Donors Choose, I was able to set up my information and submit my project for approval. This was an extremely simple process - seriously, I don't think the people behind Donors Choose could make this any easier. And I'm actually very excited at the idea of completing the thank you packet should my project get funded! If you've been thinking about asking for funding for your classroom but were worried about doing it I say go for it! They walk you through the process, and even if your project doesn't get funded you're not any worse off than you were before you started, right? And perhaps your next idea will be "The One" that a donor would like to fund.

According to the email my project will either be posted within 5 days, or I will receive an email asking follow-up questions. Either way, I've taken a step to try and improve the learning environment for our students. Hopefully Donors Choose will find our ideas meaningful enough to approve the project, and donors will find it valuable enough to fund it. Fingers crossed, friends!

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