New education technology programs engage and educate students using new creative methods while also providing them tools that can help them better learn and do schoolwork more efficiently. Furthermore, tech programs allow students to seamlessly move from school to home, giving them a feeling of comfort and control that was lacking before the widespread adoption of technical programs.
But sometimes even the best plans are hampered by budgetary constraints, and these programs can end up costing more than what many school districts are capable of affording.
Grants are a great way to fill this funding gap, but they have their own share of problems surrounding them. For one, finding grants can be a slog as they’re rarely collected into an easy-to-browse or searchable database, even though they are posted online.
With help from a number of partner districts who have had success applying for grants in the past, Kajeet put together the 2018 Funding Your Technology from Start to Finish Best Practices Guide to help schools and school districts find, write, and win grants to fund technology programs.
The guide contains simple but effective steps for school districts to better position themselves toward securing grant money to fund potential programs, along with tips for implementing and sustaining ed tech programs.
Here are a few key tips we include in the report that will help you when writing your next grant and when implementing your technology program.
1) Finding grants can be time-consuming, but there are tools that can make your job easier.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the grant process is actually finding available funding. While the Internet has made finding grants easier, searching through websites and grant databases, weeding through fine print, and determining which funds are even applicable can be a significant time-cost for busy administrators.
We are here to help.
Some grant resources include: the Department of Education’s grant database, the Big List of Education Grants and Resources by Edutopia, and the Kajeet 99 Grants to Fund your Tech report. (Note: The Funding Guide covers more options).
2) Determine your narrative before writing and tie the vision for your program back to it
Often when writing grants, people can be overwhelmed by the “why?” of the program. It seems simple enough to say “We want funding for interactive white boards” or “We’re hoping to implement a 1:1 program,” but when it comes down to it, funders want to understand why your program deserves more attention than another.
That’s where storytelling comes into play. The right narrative will properly convey your vision for the program without ever making that vision seem unrealistic; a too-optimistic vision could hurt your chances if the grant committee recognizes the impossibility of the program, while a too-humble vision might not seem ambitious enough.
To find the right balance, you should get a full scope of the impact the grant will have in your school or district. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this alone. Speak with faculty and other staff to highlight multiple needs in the district. Together, those needs can be woven into threads that craft a dynamic and compelling story that properly highlights your vision, and the impact it will have in your students’ lives.
3) Identify your team and create roles that make team members key stakeholders.
You won the grant! Now things will fall into place.
Until they don’t.
Perhaps the most important step of creating a technology program is getting others to buy into your vision. After all, you spent the time and effort identifying a need, crafting a narrative, and applying for (and winning!) a grant. While administrators are obviously key to this process, finding others who will support and further promote the program’s vision will give you invaluable allies when implementing your program.
Teachers and parents are obvious inclusions, but what about librarians? Or social workers? Bus drivers? Each of these groups may very well be affected by the technology program you’re proposing and will consider how it will impact them. When you have representatives of these groups on board, the implementation and adoption of the program becomes much easier. In short, your technology program will be at its best when your team is as invested in the vision for your program as you are.
The initial excitement of planning a new technology program can be stifled by funding concerns, but it shouldn’t be. Using grant money to kick start a new tech program doesn’t have to be an arduous process if you have the right resources and team in place.
The 2018 Funding Your Technology from Start to Finish Best Practices Guide covers much more on the funding process and further elaborates on the points discussed.
For a list of some grants you can apply for, be sure to check out the Kajeet report: 99 Grants to Fund Your Tech.