When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite things to do during recess was get on the classroom computers and explore all of their capabilities. I would go through the programs and settings, figuring out how everything worked together.
This access to technology helped me discover my love for computers and eventually set me on the path that led to my current career, testing and writing about school administration software.
Technology alone cannot supplant a quality education, but it has the ability to amplify the ability of your school to educate students.
But what if your school can’t afford access to the newest computers and other gadgets?
Fortunately, there are education grants out there that can help you fund your school’s technology needs. The grant application process will require you to jump through some hoops, but I’m here to help guide you through those hoops.
I will walk you through the steps to take in order to win over grant providers, from assessing your needs, to submitting a proposal to grant providers.
1. Determine your technological needs
When you assess your need for technology, it’s important not to fill the gaps in your school system with gadgets and hope for a better result. According to Educational Technology Debate, technology is meant to enhance the positives that already exist within your school, not fix the negatives:
“Computers can help good schools do some things better, but they do nothing positive for underperforming schools. This means, very specifically, that efforts to fix broken schools with technology or to substitute for missing teachers with technology invariably fail.”
Instead, look for areas where new iPads or computers could help increase student success with better access to information and other resources.
In order to determine your technological needs, survey your teachers and administrators about their needs in the classroom and the school at large. There aren’t many general grants for nonspecific technology funding, so finding targeted areas where your technology falls short (like special education, the arts, science, or math) will help you better focus your search.
Once you know what is lacking, you can begin budgeting out your needed technology.
2. Prepare a technology budget for your proposal
Now that your assessment has concluded and you have your technology wish list, you can begin building your presumptive technology budget. This budget will be prepared outside of your standard budget, since it is based solely on whether or not you are able to acquire funding through grants.
Your budget should include a cost analysis of the technology you have as well as the forecast cost of replacing those machines. Costs include initial purchase price, software needs, networking upgrades, professional training costs, routine maintenance, and support needs.
Wikibooks has their own example technology replacement schedules and budgets:
Technology Replacement Schedule
These budgets and schedules are important when you make your case to grant providers. Grant providers want to know exactly how you plan on spending their money and if those expenses will produce positive results. Going into great detail on your budget will help assuage their concerns.
Other school technology budget examples and templates:
- Pacheco Union School Education Technology Budget (example)
- SciLearn District/School Technology Plan (template)
- Kentucky Department of Education Tech Plan (template)
3. Search for education technology grants that suit your school’s needs
Once your numbers are in line it’s time to find grants to apply for. There are several factors you should look out for including grant proposal due dates, grant amounts, requirements, and if there is any special criteria your school must meet (trade school, special education school, etc.).
Luckily, there are plenty of grant databases to help you find the right grants for your school:
I’ve also done some of the work and compiled four education technology grants you may want to consider:
Grant Description: This grant is special. Instead of offering funding for technology purchases, excess computer equipment from federal agencies is made available to schools and educational nonprofits.
Deadline: The 2017 competition closed in February; watch for the 2018 date
Grant Description: Teachers must submit 400 to 500 words on the impact new technology would make in their classroom.
Grant Amount: $1,000
Deadline: The 2017 competition closed in May; watch for the 2018 date
Grant Description: The grant is provided to assist in the following areas: expanding literacy programs, purchasing new technology to support literacy initiatives, and purchasing books or software for literacy programs.
Grant Amount: $4,000
Deadline: The fall 2017 grant cycle will open August 7, 2017 and will close once 1,500 applications are received
Grant Description: This seasonal grant is meant to “provide tools to help educators and parent groups through educational challenges by providing the greatest impact, with basic necessities being the priority.” With our ever-evolving technological landscape, it’s not hard to make the case for upgrades as a necessity.
Grant Amount: $5,000
If you plan on regularly applying for grants, grant management software can help you keep track of your grants. I’ve compiled a list of free and affordable grant management software options. Some are for grant providers, but there are plenty for grant seekers to choose from.
After you’ve selected the grants you want to apply for, you must either complete whatever unique tasks are required for the application process or, as is the case with most grants, prepare a grant proposal to submit to the donor.
4. Write your grant proposal
Think of your grant proposal as your resume and cover letter. This is your opportunity to put your best foot forward in order to capture the attention of and ultimately the funding of the grant makers. Your grant proposal will take time and lots of editing before it’s ready to send out, so it’s best to begin working on the proposal at least a month before the due date.
There are nine things you must include in every grant proposal you assemble:
- Cover letter: This is the introduction to your grant proposal. Be sure to address your reader and give a brief overview of your organization, your needs, and how the grant would benefit your organization.
- Summary: Give a short explanation of what you are asking for.
- Need statement: Here you will convey your need for the grant. Convince the grant provider that their funds are essential for your school. Go into detail about why your school needs new technology, whatever it may be.
- Goals and objectives: Explain what you hope to accomplish with this new technology and how it will improve your school. Set specific and measurable goals.
- Methods and strategies: Provide specific steps that you will take to ensure that the goals from the previous section are met, and what strategies you have in place to implement the new technology. Include lesson and use examples.
- Evaluation: Go into detail on how you will ensure that your goals are being met, whether it be test scores, technology literacy rates, student participation in digital after-school programs, or the number of new technology courses in your curriculum.
- Other funding: What other sources of funding are you seeking or have already procured? This information helps establish a sense of long-term viability for a program.
- Budget: Remember that budget you compiled earlier? Include that in your grant proposal so that grant providers clearly understand your need and how their funds will fit into your new technology budget.
- Additional materials: This is where you include any other hard data you mentioned in your proposal, but couldn’t fit in the general text. This includes your overall school budget and your forecasts for school performance.
Grant proposal templates:
- PandaDoc Grant Proposal Template
- Kurzweil Educational System Sample Grant Proposal
- 4Good Grant Proposal Template
For additional tips on grant writing, be sure to read my 5 Ways to Improve Your Grant Writing piece.
5. Next steps
If your school or schools were chosen to receive funding to purchase new technology for your school, however, you implement the new technology, train your teachers and staff on using the new technology, and the results start pouring in.
Whether those results are positive, negative, or somewhere in between, it’s important to document and report those results back to the grant provider.
The results your grant project produces will determine how the grant provider will work with your school(s) in the future. Hopefully in your case, the results are positive and the grant provider will continue their support of your school.
Similar to your grant proposal, your reports ought to include the stated goals and now include explanations as well visuals detailing the results of implementing your changes. Your report ought to use the exact metrics laid out in your grant proposal as well as any other unexpected results.
As long as the grant provider is funding your school, they ought to receive regular updates on progress.
If your school is not chosen to receive grant funding from one source, don’t let this discourage you. There are plenty of grant providers and at the end of the day, even if you do everything right, there are lots of other schools seeking out that funding. Keep your eye on the ball and go through the cycle until you receive the funding your school deserves.
What technology should your grant money go towards?
How have you invested in new technology in your school or school district? What snags did you run into while searching for funding? Are there any grants you would recommend to schools looking to upgrade their technology? Let us know in the comment section below!
Now that you know how to apply for technology grants, its time to look forward and find new technologies that will benefit your school.
Grant providers are more likely to fund projects that are on the cutting edge of educational technology. The Capterra school administration blog is full of guides and best practices for implementing school administration software as well as other education technologies and trends. If you liked this piece, be sure to check out my other work:
- The Ultimate SAT/ACT Prep Website Guide All High School Administrations Need
- How You Can Use Minecraft Education Edition in Your School
- 5 School Calendar Software Tools to Bring Your School Into The 21st Century
- The Top 6 Free and Open Source School Administration Software
Looking for School Administration software? Check out Capterra's list of the best School Administration software solutions.