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Raising Funds for Technology
While you've probably got some ideas for technology you'd like in your school, if you're like most of us, you may not be sure where to begin. This section will help you
- define your needs
- present your ideas
- find potential funders
Defining Your Needs
Before you present your ideas to potential funders, be clear about your needs. A good way to define your needs is to answer the following questions (brainstorm with others, if possible):
You'll probably need to do some research to determine the specific technology you require and its cost. Ask your school or district technology specialist for more information and cost estimates.
- What specific classroom activities do you want to do? (Example: I want my students to exchange letters with deaf and hearing adults.)
- What are your objectives for your students? Why do you need technology to achieve those outcomes? (Example: I want my students to develop and apply their reading and writing skills. E-mail exchanges, for example, encourage prompt responses and are authentic, yet allow time for feedback and editing.)
- Why do you want to engage in these activities? (Example: I want students to improve writing and reading skills while engaged in an activity that stimulates social contact.)
Now you're ready to put your ideas into writing.
Presenting Your Ideas
So, you've got a great idea but you still need money to support it? The secret is to find people who are interested in funding projects like yours and then communicate your ideas to them.
Most funders require some kind of written proposal. This is a clear outline of the need for and expected outcomes of your project, a detailed plan for the project itself, and a plan for evaluating project results. Proposals don't have to be long; five pages is often enough. They do have to be compelling, however. Do your homework. Write your proposal before approaching a funding source. You'll be better prepared for success.
Many books provide step-by-step guides to proposal writing. Ask your local librarian or bookstore for recommendations. The Associated Grantmakers Library has dozens of participating libraries around the country that specialize in providing funding-related information. Visit The Foundation Center's Web site or call them at (800) 424-9836, (in New York (212) 620-4230), to locate the branch nearest you.
Grant-writing workshops and seminars, while a little more expensive, can be a valuable way to focus on your proposal. Call the development office at a local college for suggestions.
There are also many World Wide Web sites that offer on-line resources and technical help. Be aware that different search services will yield different results. Search using keywords: proposal writing and grant making. These sites often provide links and suggestions for potential funders.
One last tip: Ask another teacher or a parent to help you develop your proposal. In this case, two heads are better than one!
Finding Potential Funders
Potential funders include:
Don't give up after the first try. If your first contact with a potential funder isn't successful, politely ask why. Use this information to more effectively present your ideas to the next funder.
- State and federal government agencies. The U.S. Department of Education is one example. Federal government funders often have the biggest budgets and demand very detailed proposals, often with rigorous evaluation components and fixed deadlines. Visit them on-line or read the current Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and Federal Register at your local library.
- Corporate or charitable foundations. To find a possible corporate or charitable foundation, look around your school's city. Investigate who the area's major employer is and who has funded other local projects. Call them up and ask them for guidelines to their charitable giving programs. If they don't have any guidelines, ask for their annual report and see if you can determine their charitable interests.
- Individual donors. Individual donors are responsible for 85 percent of all giving in the United States. They are usually found through personal acquaintances. If appropriate, you may want to solicit a student's parent or a person in your town who is known to be interested in supporting particular kinds of students or programs.
Remember: Funders want to fund worthy projects. If your project is worth funding, keep working. Your students will thank you.
| WGBH Educational Foundation