Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Classroom Grants for Classroom Memories

While the majority of school days are taken up by routine lessons and mundane tasks, I believe that teachers and principals should strive to give students very positive memories of their time in a particular class or building. Students often remember special projects and particular activities far longer than the day-to-day grind that makes up most of the school year. While it is true that some teachers just have a more vibrant, fun personality than others, that doesn’t keep any teacher from developing engaging activities that students will remember for the rest of their lives. The good news is that you may be able to get grant money to help fund your special project.

Now don’t get me wrong. Each of these projects should have a very specific purpose and be centered on students developing skills or acquiring knowledge not already in place. Every project and every unit that you develop should have a pre- and post-test of some type to determine each student’s starting point at the beginning of the project and measuring the growth of each student during the project. Units involving Native Americans and dinosaurs abound in elementary schools because students like them, but I wonder how many of these units teach and track the skills that students should be developing? They certainly have plenty of potential for helping students learn skills and acquire important knowledge. It’s really up to the teacher to make sure these components are included and measured.

If grantors are going to give you money to develop a unit or a project, you can bet they will want to know the positive results that you achieve. Grantors have helped teachers develop gardens at their schools, install piano labs, set up outdoor science labs, build service-learning units, establish mobile computer labs, participate in a series of unusually productive field trips – the list goes on and on. If you can develop a unit or project that is unique and particularly meaningful to students, you have a good chance of finding a grant partner.

To get started, you need to think of a fun, productive project that gives you an opportunity to teach a skill that is included in your curriculum. You then need to set the scope of the project including some sort of pre- and post-test so you can measure growth. You need to give a lot of thought to the activities that will enable all of your students to develop the skills and learn the information you require them to learn. Once you get the entire project planned from start to finish, you should use a grant database to find a possible sponsor for your project. If you do not find a grantor in a month or two of searching, you might want to find a local sponsor for your project. This could be a local business, your own PTA or PTO, a wealthy individual in the community, or even an interested parent who might have the money to spare and needs a tax deduction.

I think it is important when developing your project and seeking a grantor to keep in mind that you want your students to remember this project for the rest of their lives. In the middle school where I was principal in Northeast Texas, we called it “making memories.” I encouraged every teacher to develop one such project every year. We were fortunate because even though we were a poor school, we brought in enough money through grants and business partnerships that we could fund almost any project our teachers developed.

As a result of our “making memories” program, every student raised his or her mother a plant for Mothers’ Day in our school greenhouse. One hundred seventy-five of our five hundred students took free piano lessons every day in our piano lab. Our eighth graders were treated to a robotics program in one of our two computer labs. One hundred of our students participated in a service learning class where they helped in our local hospital, senior center, elementary school, or our sheltered workshop every day. Those are just a few of the projects our teachers initiated. I can tell you that although years have passed, our students still fondly remember each of those projects.

It is important that students have positive memories of their time at your school. These positive memories tend to make them better students as they move through the educational process. Take the challenge and begin thinking about the special project that you can initiate next school year.

Remember, you’re not going to necessarily have the money to initiate the project you develop. Try to find grant money using a good school grant database, develop a business partnership locally, or find an individual to sponsor your project. Make those memories and don’t let anything get in your way.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Finish Line Youth Foundation

Funded by: Finish Line Youth Foundation Grants

Description: Giving on a national basis in areas of company operations, supporting organizations involved with athletics and youth development. Special emphasis is directed toward programs designed to promote active lifestyles and team building skills; and camps designed to promote sports and active lifestyles, and serve disadvantaged and special needs kids.

Program Areas: After-School, Disabilities, Health/PE, Special Education

Recipients: Public Schools, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline: 6/30/11

Average Amount: $1,000.00 - $75,000.00

Telephone: 317-899-1022, Ext. 6799

Email: youthfoundation@finishline.com

Website: http://www.finishline.com/store/youthfoundation/guidelines.jsp

Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Captain Planet Foundation Education Grants

Funded by: The Captain Planet Foundation

Description: The foundation supports projects that: 1) Promote understanding of environmental issues; 2) Focus on hands-on involvement; 3) Involve children and young adults 6-18 (elementary through high school); 4) Promote interaction and cooperation within the group; 5) Help young people develop planning and problem solving skills; 6) Include adult supervision; 7) Commit to follow-up communication with the foundation (specific requirements are explained once the grant has been awarded).

Program Areas: Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Science/Environment, Social Studies, All Other

Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other

Proposal Deadline: 6/30/2011

Average Amount: $250.00 - $2,500.00

Telephone: 404-522-4270

Email: tarynm@captainplanetfdn.org

Website: http://www.captainplanetfoundation.org

Availability: All States

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Simple "Thank You" Will Do

It is always appropriate to thank a granting entity for the money they give to your school. Foundation boards are pleased to know they have chosen grateful schools with worthwhile projects, but state and federal grant contact persons like to receive a school’s positive feedback, too.

When you first receive grant money, it is a good time to acknowledge the gift. Another good time for a “thank you” is when you complete your grant program or it is nearing completion.

Always remember when you are thanking a grantor that it is not about the money. Grants are about student achievement, student growth, and student change. When you first receive your grant money, it is good to write a short letter thanking the grantor for the funds and reminding them of the changes you will be able to make because of their gift. Although the details of your program will have been listed in your application, reminding a grantor of the good that their funding will accomplish is always a plus. Make sure your excitement is evident. Your program would not have been possible without the support of that grantor.

As a grant program is winding down, you should also send a thank-you letter to your grantor. The details of the growth and change that have taken place because of the grant program should be sent in an evaluation report, but a thank-you letter can express your appreciation and enthusiasm for the positive impact the grant had on your students in a way that is not possible in a formal report.

Thanking a grantor can help in other ways. By creating a positive relationship with a grantor, you may very well be able to apply for more grant money from this same granting entity. By the end of the grant program, you will have demonstrated your gratefulness for their gift, but you will have also shown them both formally and informally that any money they give to your school will be put to excellent use. You should let them know that the grant they gave you was not just more money thrown at a problem, but it was used in ways to improve the education and the lives of your students.

Would you be more likely to give additional money to a school that thanked you as a grantor at the beginning and end of the program you funded and showed you positive results or to a school that just sent in a required evaluation report?

Send thank you letters to any grantor that gives you money. First, it is the right thing to do. Second, it gives you a chance to show appreciation from both you and your students. Third, it may very well help you receive more money in the future from that same grantor.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Saucony Run for Good Foundation Grants

Funded by: Saucony Run for Good Foundation

Description: The Saucony Run For Good Foundation is committed to improving the lives of children by helping to prevent and reduce childhood obesity. We act to inform the public about its cause and prevention and provide funding to optimize the impact and success of community organizations that promote running and healthy lifestyle programs for youth.

Program Areas: Health/PE

Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Higher Education, Other

Proposal Deadline: 6/12/11

Average Amount: $10,000.00

Website: http://www.sauconyrunforgood.com/

Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Big Help Grants

Funded by: NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon

Description: The NEA Foundation – Nickelodeon Big Help Grants are available in the form of Student Achievement grants to K-8 public school educators. The Big Help Grants program is dedicated to the development and implementation of ideas, techniques, and approaches for addressing four key concerns – environmental awareness, health and wellness, students’ right to a quality public education, and active community involvement. The grants target these four concerns as areas of great promise in helping develop a sense of global awareness in 21st century students that will encourage and enable them to make a difference in their world. Both the NEA Foundation and Nickelodeon are strongly committed to supporting the development of these skills and attributes for America’s students.

Program Areas: General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies

Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School

Proposal Deadline: 6/1/11

Average Amount: $5,000.00
Website: http://www.neafoundation.org/pages/educators/grant-programs/nea-foundation-green-grants

Availability: All States

Monday, May 2, 2011

Can I Apply for Grants During Summer?

Not only can you apply for grants in the summer, I hardily encourage it. Most educators will be vacationing and taking it easy. That means it is the perfect time for you to apply for grants because there will be less competition for grant dollars. That makes your job easier.

As we go into summer, as you relax and recharge those batteries, I challenge you to spend just a small part of your vacation time finding and writing grants for your classroom or school. It is a great feeling to win money for a program. You and your students reap the benefits. You might have extra materials, a chance to use different learning styles, or the opportunity to develop unique learning environments that may never have been possible within the regular school budget.

Although some state and federal grants can be written during the summer, you may want to focus on foundation grants. Many have quarterly deadlines that end in the summer making them great for summer grant writing.

Because school money is really tight these days, you will need to find as many foundation grants as you can that fit your situation. You should always begin with the free grant database that Discount School Supply provides you. It is comprehensive and lists just about every grant available to you in the selected categories.

Using this database and writing during the summer gives you two advantages that many schools will not have. It's time to put those advantages to work. Start looking today at the types of problems you will have when the fall semester begins. Match those problems with the foundation grants available in the Discount School Supply free grant database, and then apply for several of those grants.

You may not get money from every grant, but if you apply for several, you have a good chance of getting money from one or two. You must begin planning now so that when school is out, you are ready to start completing those applications and getting them in the mail.

Start today! The grants you get may make this the best summer vacation you’ve ever had.

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Yes To Seed Fund Grants

Funded by: Yes To Seed Fund, Whole Foods Market

Description: Yes To Seed Fund + Whole Foods Markets are partnering to plant gardens in your schools! With a joint mission of giving kids fun and engaging ways to learn about nutrition and the importance of fruits and veggies, we will be giving away five $2,000 Seed Fund Grants in each participating Whole Foods region to local schools, plus five $500 "Starter Garden" grants to schools nationwide! All Yes To products in participating Whole Foods stores are 20% off, and a portion of proceeds of all sales go to the Seed Fund! Click 'Apply Now' to see how YOUR school can apply to win one of these Seed Fund Grants!

Program Areas: Health/PE, Science/Environment

Recipients: Public Schools, Private/Charter Schools

Proposal Deadline: 5/31/11

Average Amount: $500.00 - $2,000.00

Website: http://www.yestocarrots.com/yes-to-seed-fund.html

Availability: All States

Check It Out: NEW Grant Opportunity!

Grant Name: Learning & Leadership Grants

Funded by: The NEA Foundation

Description: These grants support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes: 1) Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes or action research. 2) Grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment. Applicants must be practicing U.S. public school teachers in grades K-12, public school education support professionals, or faculty and staff at public higher education institutions. Preference will be given to members of the National Education Association. The NEA Foundation encourages grant applications from teachers with less than seven years of experience in the profession, and education support professionals. Applicants: Mail the original and five (5) copies of your application t o the address listed below. Please do not staple or bind your application. Applications that do not comply with the guidelines or that include materials not specifically requested by The NEA Foundation will not be reviewed. Applications sent by e-mail or fax, or incomplete applications, will not be reviewed.

Program Areas: General Education, Professional Development

Recipients: Public Schools, Higher Education

Proposal Deadline: 6/1/2011

Average Amount: $2,000.00 - $5,000.00

Telephone: 202-822-7840

Email: info-neafoundation@lost.nea.org

Website: http://www.neafoundation.org/programs/Learning&Leadership Guidelines.htm

Availability: All States