Will we see eRate funds before the Thanksgiving turkey? Don’t bet on it. Between Ira Fishman’s recent departure and McCain’s latest machinations—much not to mention the new re-examination (page 1) of federal spending on school technology—those telecommunications discounts may take a few more detours on their way to your door.

In short, it’s inadvisable to rely too heavily on federal funds alone in the effort to launch programs that will make technology an integral part of your schools. Technology fundraising programs that capitalize on opportunities in both the public and private sectors, however, will have the best chance of avoiding problems because of adverse, last-minute political decisions.

A stable, diversified base of financial support depends on a technology fundraising strategy that comprises three essential components:

• building a successful funding team,

• expanding your base of support beyond federal funds to include corporate and private philanthropic channels, and

• working with your local communities to build solid partnerships that can leverage critical dollars.

Funding for School Technology

Because achieving those essential elements is easier said than done and cannot be adequately addressed in a single article, eSchool News, the publisher of STFB, has organized a strategic conference to help educators develop a sophisticated, systematic, technology-oriented approach to financial development. Co-sponsored by Innovative Communications Inc. (ICI) of Freeland, Mich., the developer of the Classroom Resource Management System (CRMS) with financial support from The AOL Foundation, Grants & Funding for School Technology will be held on November 5 and 6 in Alexandria, Va., in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

This symposium will bring together leaders from school districts and state departments of education, grants writers and fundraising experts, and corporate, foundation, and federal/state grant givers. Through peer exchange and expert advice, the conference will offer school leaders the help they need to establish an organized, diversified strategy to raise funds for school technology.

On rapidly shifting programs such as the eRate, conference-goers will get a briefing directly from the top, straight from the man who was first in charge of the federal Schools and Libraries Corp. (SLC), the agency that administers the eRate.

In a rare speaking engagement on Friday, Nov. 6, Ira Fishman, the SLC’s first chief executive officer, will discuss the program’s turbulent history and issues surrounding education technology funding in Congress. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with the SLC’s Director of Technology Planning & Evaluation, Tom Carroll.

For an up-to-the-minute overview of funding opportunities available through the U.S. Department of Education (ED), attendees will hear a keynote address by Linda Roberts, director of ED’s office of educational technology.

From the practitioner’s perspective, a roster of notable school executives includes one of the nation’s most respected and sophisticated school leaders. Robert Kelley will address the conference on the role of the School District Foundation and how to use it to leverage technology funding programs. Now the executive director of the Fairfax (Va.) County Education Foundation, Kelley will explain some of the funding strategies he used to make Fairfax County a lighthouse district for school technology.

School tech grant decision makers

Conference attendees also will learn about technology funding sources and strategies straight from the program officers themselves—the people who make critical decisions and approve grant requests.

Speakers include Barbara Ashbrook of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Cheryl Garnette of the ED’s Star Schools program; Lammot du Pont of the NTIA’s Telecommunications Information Infrastructure Assistance Program; and Mike Haney of the National Science Foundation.

School technology grant decision makers from corporate foundations such as the AT&T Foundation and the Cisco Foundation also are on the program, as are the nation’s leading authorities on successful grant seeking and fund raising.

The conference is divided into two tracks. The hands-on, practitioner-oriented Tools & Techniques track covers topics such as how to make your technology plan a powerful fundraising tool, how to approach a corporation for a grant, and the key elements of successful grants writing.

A Policy & Management track will include insights on how to build public/private strategic alliances, create and manage a successful school foundation, and how to find and hire a winning fundraising specialist.

Innovative Communications Inc. (ICI) of Freeland, Mich., the developer of the Classroom Resource Management System (CRMS).

You can register for the conference by filling out the form on the next page. Or, for additional information on Grants & Funding for School Technology, contact eSchool News at:

– conference hotline: (800) 394-0115 x104

– fax: (301) 913-0119

– eMail: conferences@eschoolnews.org

– write: eSchool News, 7920 Norfolk Ave., #900, Bethesda, MD 20814

– visit http://www.eSchoolNews.org