Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

We have written before in this space about the great need for funds in our nation’s classrooms. Lack of funding has created a situation where most teachers have to purchase basic supplies like books and paper with their own money. The good news is that there are a large number of educational grants available to schools and teachers.

Grants are funds (or sometimes products) that are gifted by a grant maker, usually a foundation, trust or government agency. They can be awarded to non-profit organizations, schools and educational organizations, and even businesses and individuals. More often than not, grants must be used for a specific project determined by the grant maker. Educational grants are available for a surprisingly large number of projects from equipping a classroom with computers to paying for a field trip or anything that can enrich education.

What follows is only a sampling of the grants that schools and teachers can apply for. Some of the grants are open for submissions at different times of the year so check each link for deadlines and eligibility requirements.

Elmer’s Teacher Tool Kit Grant

The Kids in Need Foundation and Elmer’s partnered to award this grant that provides $100 to $500 worth of school supplies to students with financial needs. The application requires a description of how funds will be used as well as how many students will be impacted.

Target Field Trip Grants

The purpose of these grants is to expand learning outside of the traditional classroom. Each Target store in the US awards three $700 grants that can be used for transportation, admission fees or other field trip expenses.

Pets in the Classroom Grants

This grant from the Pet Care Trust is designed to allow students to interact with a class pet. Funds are used to obtain, care for and maintain a classroom pet. Teachers of students from pre kinder to ninth grade are eligible to apply.

Toshiba Tech Grants

This grant is available for grades 6-12. The Toshiba America Foundation promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning by providing funds for technology enhanced education. Grants of up to $5000 can be used to purchase technology and supplies for STEM educational projects.

Givers Gain® Grants

The BNI Foundation awards ten $1000 grants each year, five in the summer and five in the winter, to 501c3 non-profit schools and educational organizations. Grants are by referral only and the school or organization must be partnered with a Business Voices team to be eligible.

Donors Choose

Donors Choose does not offer grants, but rather an innovative way to raise funds for schools. Public school teachers can request funds for classroom projects, listing the resources needed. Donors can pick which school and project they want to support and can donate money or needed supplies.

A Word on Grant Writing

Grant Writing refers to the process of applying for a grant or making a grant proposal. Grant writing can be something of a skill that can be improved through repetition. Some organizations hire professional grant writers to increase their chances of securing funds. For teachers who will apply on their own, here are a few tips to help the application or proposal get noticed.

Get to know the grant maker – Research the organization awarding the grant to learn what they look for in an application. Reach out to them to learn what you can, read their blog and follow them on social media, if available.

Plan your project – Map out your project’s goals, needed supplies, cost, etc. Innovative and interesting project proposals tend to get more attention.

Give yourself time – A well-written grant proposal, and most applications, take time. Do not wait until just before the deadline to get started, as you will probably not be able to put in the time to make your proposal shine.

Do not limit yourself to the short list of grants above. Take some time to research what is available. You will be sure to find at least one grant for your specific classroom needs. Many more grants for all kinds of educational projects are just a Google search away.

Peck Elementary School Supply Drop-off

BNI Gate City teamed up with Volvo Financial Services to provide much needed school supplies for the students of Peck Elementary school in Winston Salem, NC. Volvo Financial Services has been a big supporter of the Business Voices initiative for years. In addition to supply drives like this, Volvo Financial Services donates $5,000 to the school every year. Those funds have gone to improve technology in Peck Elementary’s classrooms.

And now there is another surprise! Volvo Financial Services has committed to having all of the Peck Elementary third graders visit their facility on a field trip where Volvo leaders will speak to the kids and take them on a tour. While there, the students will have the opportunity to explore a  large Volvo truck.

Congratulations to BNI Gate City for their successful partnership with the folks at Volvo Financial Services. By working  together and sharing their time, talents and treasure, they have had a positive impact on the students of a local school.

Teachers are Picking Up the Bill for Their Own Jobs.

Teachers are Picking Up the Bill for Their Own Jobs

Teachers investing their own money into the classroom have become so commonplace around the country that it is now taken for granted. For years, schoolteachers have learned to accept the fact that they will spend part of their salaries on items for the classroom. New teachers entering the profession are generally aware of the situation because it is widespread and because they are told as much in college. This information is even found in some college textbooks. Studies have determined that the average teacher spends as much as $1000 yearly on necessary supplies not provided by their employers.
These out of pocket costs could add up to a major expense, especially for someone just starting a career. But, as mentioned, most teachers enter the profession knowing what is expected. New teachers are not likely choosing the career for it’s high income potential. This kind of sacrifice requires a different perspective and a willingness to take on the responsibility to do what is needed to perform the job properly.

Where is the Money Going?

The list of items purchased for the classroom by teachers is extensive. It starts with the decorations teachers use to liven up the classroom and engage their students. The colorful, educational banners, map, posters, alphabets and other learning tools that are ubiquitous in classrooms create a warm atmosphere conducive to creativity and learning. Without teachers taking on the expense, classrooms would be very different places.
As public school budgets continue to be hit, teachers find themselves having to cover even basic supplies like books, paper and pencils. Meanwhile, some have to work with decades old textbooks because they are not prioritized in schools’ budgets. Even furniture is not out of the scope of teacher spending.
In impoverished neighborhoods, it is common for teachers to spend on items unrelated to education to help their students. Teachers will pay for classroom snacks, student meals on school trips and personal items for students with the most need. It is not unheard of for teachers to pay for students’ college applications and curriculums.

Other Effects of Budget Cuts

There are other ways that educational budget cuts affect teachers. Less money means less incentive to join and stay in the profession. Here are some other effects of the lack of proper funding.
Lower Pay – This translates in to smaller paychecks, or losing a job when a school district decides to reduce class sizes.
Reduced Benefits – School district contributions to teacher benefits can be lowered when cuts need to be made somewhere.
Fewer Equipment Purchases – When money is low, schools may put off investing in technology like computers. Teachers and students suffer when they do not have up to date equipment.
Fewer Electives – A school facing budget cuts will typically cut non-core subjects from the curriculum, sometimes cutting teacher positions in the process.
Larger Class Sizes – A common response to budget cuts, bigger classes are less conducive to one-on-one instruction and cooperative learning.
As things stand now, some 20% of teachers quit the profession within the first three years. Educational budget issues do not help matters. Whether teachers accept it or not, they should not have to bear this financial burden. The BNI Foundation was started to address these sorts of issues. Our Business Voices initiative works to get business leaders involved in education by volunteering their time and talents, while our Givers Gain Grants help fund educational projects. Learn more, visit bnifoundation.org.