With the erosion of the eRate and Congressional tinkering with other funding pots, you’d be ill-advised to put all of your technology eggs in the federal basket. So to speak.
Instead, you want to diversify the sources where you get your technology dollars. Spread the burden around a little. That way, if a favorite foundation source suddenly decides to scale back its dollars or Congress opts to slash a budget, you won’t be left out in the cold.
Don’t waste your time by going to funders who won’t fund you. Spend a little time up front on prospect research. Identify possible grant makers whose giving priorities match your needs. It’s crucial to do your research if you want to zero in on those most likely to find your technology program.
How do you get this information? Why, the internet, of course.
Before you get started
The very first thing you want to do is know your project. You need to have a good understanding of what you want this money for before you can identify who might give it to you. Sketch out as many of the particulars as you can: how much you need, the goals and objectives of the project, and how long it will take. Then you can come up with a list of funding sources.
Some experts suggest that you try to identify five prospective funders for each fundable component of your project. One component might be the purchase of computers, for example; another, teacher training; the third, a handbook you want to write on using technology in the classroom that your project will generate. With this formula, your goal is to come up with a list of 15 prospective funders for this project.
When I’m scouring a foundation directory for prospects, I keep a batch of prospect worksheets at my elbow to fill out when I spot a funder that could be a likely funding source.
On these worksheets I record the following information:
• Name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and eMail address of contact person (usually the program officer for education projects).
• The mission of the funder and its funding areas.
• Funding priorities (every funder has priorities, and you can usually find them in a grants directory or in the funder’s annual report).
• Financial data: total assets, total grants paid, grant ranges/amount needed, period of funding/project (this will help you decide which funders are able to give the kind of money you’re looking for, when you need it).
• Geographic limits (. . . if any. Funders often cite receiving applications from those living outside their geographic giving area as their number one aggravation: make sure you’re in an area where your prospective funder gives).
• Types of support (whether they give matching grants, in-kind donations, etc.).
• Populations served.
• Types of past recipients, their names and project titles (so you can call and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing their proposal or project narrative with you).
• Inside people to know (these might be officers, trustees, a receptionist, past recipient, etc.).
• Application information (printed guidelines/application form, how to approach initially, deadlines, and board meeting dates).
• The source of your information about the funder.
• Space for notes, follow-up steps you want to take, etc.
You might want to prepare a prospect worksheet form to help you keep track of all this information. The Foundation Center has a great worksheet available on its web site that’s free to download or print out.
Funds for School Tech Resources
You’ve already taken a great first step in the prospect research process: subscribing to School Technology Funding Bulletin. It’ll help keep you on track and up-to-date on federal, private, and corporate sources for funding for school technology on a monthly basis.
In addition to this newsletter, eSchool News offers two additional resources aimed at helping K-12 leaders find and secure the necessary funds for their schools: The School Technology Funding Directory, a comprehensive guide to over 150 sources of federal funding sources and private and corporate foundations across the nation; and a conference called Grants & Funding for School Technology: Proven Strategies for Capturing Your Piece of the $30 Billion Pie.
The conference will be held on Nov. 5 and 6 in Alexandria, Va. (outside of D.C.) this year. For more information about the directory or the conference, or to request a free registration brochure, please call (800) 394-0115 or check out our web site: http://www.eschoolnews.org
The internet is fast becoming the prospect researcher’s best friend (after the program officer). One of your first stops should be The Foundation Center. It provides hundreds of links to hundreds of private, corporate, and community foundation grant makers; a tutorial on the grant-seeking process and proposal writing, and helpful links to nonprofit organizations.
A couple of sites on the internet give you lots of links to funders and information specifically about technology for schools:
• NASA K12 Internet Initiative:Grant Info http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/top/grants.html
• The Annenberg/CPB’s SAMI (Science and Math Initiative) Mini-Grants Page http://www.learner.org/sami/mini-grant.shtm
• Pitsco’s Launch to Grants and Funding
• Computer Educators (ICE)
Of course you shouldn’t forget the U.S. Department of Education (http://www.ed.gov) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Grants & Contracts Information (http://gcs.ed.gov/).
Find other federal grants programs in the Federal Register online, or you can order the publication by calling (202) 512-1800.
You can also find links to foundations at The Council on Foundations, Fundsnet, and The Internet Prospector.