Use these magic words to swing those funding doors wide open: Experts at ‘Grants & Funding East’ reveal what’s hot, what’s not

If you were at our first-ever Grants & Funding for School Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., you heard all about the twin issues that will be drawing funding like a magnet in 1999. According to the assembled experts, two words will be the absolute key to winning big money for school technology from government and private sources. The two power terms? Training and Assessment.

That message came across strong and clear from the dozens of program officers, foundation officials, and others who spoke at ‘Grants & Funding East.’ One after another, the experts sounded a common theme: Before providing funding, grants makers want to see a detailed, innovative plan for how your schools intend to use technology to improve teaching and learning.

Strong technology plans

And that plan, they agreed, must include:

• time and budget allocation for teacher training initiatives;

• an assessment plan that goes beyond anecdotal material into quantifiable, measurable outcomes and addresses student achievement;

• a line item budget that details realistic amounts for all areas of your technology program and other sources of revenue.

The experts also said that the technology plans in the most competitive proposals followed pedagogical objectives. That is, they answered the question, “How does technology improve student learning?”

“Technology needs to follow pedagogy,” declared Donna Rhodes, of the National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching and a grantsmaker herself. “Not the other way around. The pedagogy must come first.”

Rhodes told the the general morning address that successful proposals must offer a blueprint for the use of technology–including a commitment to ongoing training and support once the outside experts leave.

National funders also stressed the importance of innovation.

Instead of merely doling out money for hardware and software, the experts said, national funders are interested in finding innovative ways to use technology to make a difference, especially in low-income communities.

This theme was underscored in the keynote address by Linda Roberts, special technology advisor to the president for the U.S. Department of Education.

“We need to target our resources; we need to constantly assess our efforts,” Roberts told attendees.

Proposals that win

The funding experts also agreed that educators must learn to prepare grant application packages that can compete with the applications of more seasoned, professional (fulltime!) fundraisers.

What is a strong grant proposal, and how do you create one? The pros suggested the following.

Five Elements of a Competitive Grant Proposal

1. It has clearly stated, achievable goals and objectives that the project will address.

2. It is easy to read. The proposal doesn’t use jargon, or vague language. It clearly and succinctly explains the proposed project, the people involved, and the expected outcomes.

3. The competitive proposal makes the ask.

It defines the need and asks the funder to fill that need.

4. It fully understands and addresses the funder’s giving priorities. The most competitive proposals state the funder’s priorities and describes how the proposed project meets them.

5. It’s innovative. You don’t have to set the world on fire and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, funders advise. But your project should be built on a well-reasoned set of principles in a new way. Example: TIIAP funded a project last year that helped students in hospitals stay in touch with their classrooms via laptop computers.

Six More Steps You Can Take to Win Grants

1. Talk with the funder. The experts agreed: Make a phone call to the program officer of the agency or the foundation to discuss your project. Most foundation and federal funding agents are happy to discuss your proposal and your work. You shouldn’t call and ask obvious questions, such as, “What do you give money for?” But you are encouraged to discuss the scope and goals of your project and get feedback on how appropriate it might be for the funding agency–or what you can do to improve it.

2. Ask outsiders to review your proposal. One school grant writer said she asked a “smart but ignorant” friend to read over her proposals, to make sure that anyone who didn’t already know about the program could understand it by its description. Another funder suggested that you put together a “mock review panel” to go over your proposal and give you written comments about areas of confusion or improvements.

3. Study the proposals of previous award winners. If it’s a government funder you’re going after, you have a right to read the proposals of previous winners, under the Freedom of Information Act. And oftentimes grantees are happy to share with you the seeds of their success.

4. Become a peer reviewer yourself. Government agencies like the Department of Education and The Department of Commerce need field pros like yourself to read and recommend project proposals to recommend for funding. Sit on the other side for a while, and you’ll become an expert on what proposals actually get read.

5. Do your homework. Resource books, periodicals, guides and directories, conferences, the internet and peer-to-peer mentoring are great ways to find out more about the funders you’re going after.

6. If you missed Grants & Funding East, don’t despair: You’ll have the chance to learn the ins and outs of school technology fundraising at Grants & Funding West, slated for San Diego, Calif., in April of 1999.


Check out these new federal tech programs

While the recently-passed federal budget bill may read like alphabet soup, a thorough knowledge of the new pots of funds created for K-12 technology and training will serve the savvy school fundraiser well. STFB drilled the experts for the early scoop on where this new money will appear–and how the astute grantswriter can get a early leg up on the competition.

The $520 billion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Clinton on Oct. 21 provides $773 million for school technology and training. That amount includes two new programs for technology and training that you will want to add to your schedule of upcoming opportunites.

On Oct. 20, the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 65 to 29, shortly after the House voted 333 to 95 to pass the bill as well. The nearly $800 million that will be spent represents about a 20 percent increase over the $584 million allocated to school technology in the fiscal 1998 budget. Most of the school technology funds will be disbursed through ED programs, said the Department of Education’s Julie Kaninkow.

The spending bill includes two major sources of funding for education technology: a new program to train new teachers to use technology, and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF), a program created by the Clinton administration in 1993 to help schools buy and use technology.

The budget for the TLCF came in at $425 million, the same as last year. TLCF is a block grant awarded to states, which then set their own competitive funding programs for schools.

“There’s so much still to be done in the states, and it would have been helpful to have the increase,” said Kaninkow. “But we are very excited to have the new $75 million for technology teacher training.”

Teacher Training

The additional $75 million will create a new initiative “to prepare tomorrow’s teacher for technology teaching,” Kaninkow said.

Kaninkow said it wasn’t yet determined which federal agency would oversee the training program, but it would most likely be through either ED’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement or the Office of Post-Secondary Education.

K-12 schools might not be the major direct beneficiary of this grant, which is intended to help schools of education prepare teachers-in-training to use technology, Kaninkow said. “We see schools of education becoming main applicants,” she said, “but it could also be local schools or states.”

The regulations implementing the program might require colleges and universities applying for funding to form partnerships with K-12 schools, Kaninkow said.

Along with the $75 million for teacher training comes another new program. A $10 million program will establish grants to public-private partnerships in low-income communities. The new money is intended to help low-income residents use technology for education and employment.


The only real disappointment, Kaninkow said, is that the budget does not include a $50-million increase for the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF), a program created by the Clinton administration in 1993 to help schools buy and use technology.

The budget for that program came in at $425 million, the same as last year. TLCF is a block grant awarded to states, which then set their own competitive funding programs for schools.

“There’s so much still to be done in the states, and it would have been helpful to have the increase,” said Kaninkow. “But we are very excited to have the new $75 million for technology teacher training.”

Educators are hailing the budget bill as a victory for schools. “It’s great,” said Julie Kaninkow, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). “Overall I would say that we were very pleased and encouraged by the budget.

U.S. Department of Education

Rep. Bill Goodling

U.S. House of Representatives


Take advantage of this little-known $166M program for school libraries: Federal granting program inviting applications from K-12 schools

There’s a great opportunity out there for school libraries looking to get ready for the 21st century–and now is the right time for K-12 schools go after their share of the $166 million the agency has to offer.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is a small, independent federal grantmaking agency that makes competitive awards to museums and libraries, including school libraries.

What makes this such a ripe opportunity is that the agency this year is offering a special education-related theme. It may be in the hopes of attracting worthwhile school applicants: According to a program officer, K-12 schools have yet to break in with appropriate proposals for this particular grant. But STFB has the low-down on what the agency is looking for–and tips from the inside on how to make your project stand out in the crowd.

‘There’s room’

According to Joyce Ray, the director of discretionary programs for IMLS, K-12 schools have been slow to go after these funds, and the agency is eager to find worthy school projects that can act as national models.

In 1998 the agency awarded $146 million in grants to public and school libraries and museums, and this year it will give out $166 million. Most of that will go to states through a formula program, so Ray suggests that schools contact their individual state library agency to find out if funds will be distributed through a subgrant program.

But the program also will offer $10 million through four competitive granting programs.

National Leadership Grants

Although K-12 schools haven’t traditionally applied to the fund, they are eligible and encouraged to apply. This year’s theme for the competitive grants program is “education of learners for the 21st century,” so it’s an ideal time for schools to come in for an award. “There’s room there,” Ray said.

The agency’s competitive National Leadership Grants (NLG) program “awards grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to enhance the quality of library services nationwide and to provide coordination between museums and libraries.” Awards are given in four categories:

1. education and training in library and information services;

2. research and demonstration projects to improve library services;

3. preservation or digitization of library materials and resources; and

4. model programs of cooperation between libraries and museums.

What they’re looking for

While school libraries can apply in any area, Ray says your best bet is in the category called “education and training in library and information science.”

Schools might also find success in the third category, perhaps applying for funds to carry out digitization of curricular materials in classroom setting, Ray said. Or, schools could partner in a distance learning project with museums to come in under the fourth category.

Here are some strategies Ray suggests for successful projects:

1. The project should be innovative and national in scope.

2. Don’t just ask for infrastructure, but propose model projects to demonstrate solutions to problems on a national level.

3. Build strong partnerships. Applicant schools or districts who aren’t familiar with library issues should partner with larger institutions, such as research libraries or museums, to carry out the demonstration project.

The new guidelines and application information will be posted on the IMLS’s web site after December 1st. The next deadline is March 19, 1999. You can also call the program at: 202/606-5227 for more information.


Another opportunity awaiting your school library can help your teachers and media specialists prepare themselves for the technology-ready library.

School library media specialists who are members of the American Library Association (ALA) or the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) can apply for an ICPrize for Collaboration through Technology.

These $1,000 grants are to help collaborative teams of school library media specialists and classroom teachers purchase technology for use in the library media center, or travel to attend a conference.

ICPrizes will be awarded based on innovative and effective use of the internetto develop a curriculum unit. The curriculum must demonstrate collaborative activities between the library media specialists and classroom teachers, using the resources of the internet in ways that are meaningful to the curriculum unit.

For more information, you can contact AASL at (800) 545-2433, ext. 1396, or eMail: You can also find an application form online (see Links for URL).


Grants: Opportunities, Deadlines, and Awards


Technology & Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is accepting applications in this special education program, which supports projects for preschool, elementary, and secondary school students with disabilities. Projects should describe a technology-based approach to improving literacy, access to and participation in the general curriculum, and accountability. The maximum award is $200,000 per year. ED estimates it will make 15 awards this year. The preferred method for requesting information is to fax your request to (202) 205-8717 or you can write to Grants & Contracts Services Team, 600 Independence Ave. SW, Room 3317, Switzer Building, Washington, D.C. 20202-2641.

Deadline: Dec. 18

(202) 260-9182


Public Telecommunications Facilities Program

This program of the Commerce Departments National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) assists, through matching grants, in the

planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities. The

program has a Distance Learning category open to public school systems. Last year, NTIA awarded nearly $4 million to 12 distance learning projects. Winners included St. Clair County Intermediate School District in Michigan, which was given $430,000 to purchase equipment for video classrooms in 11 schools, a vocational education center, and a local community college.

Deadline: Jan. 14

(202) 482-5802


Growth Initiatives for Teachers (GIFT)

GIFT is a grant program for public and private school math and science teachers, grades 7-12, in 35 eligible states and the District of Columbia. Every year, the GTE Foundation awards $12,000 GIFT grants to 60 teams consisting of one math and one science teacher who plan to integrate the two subjects in their school curriculum through the use of technology. Each winning team receives $7,000 for a school enrichment project and $5,000 toward professional development activities.

Deadline: Jan. 15

(800) 315-5010

Connections to the Internet grants

The National Science Foundation awards these two-year grants of approximately $15,000 to K-12 schools, libraries, and museums that support innovative technologies for internet access. Only highly innovative approaches that can accelerate network development at similar institutions will be considered for funding. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact an NSF program officer to discuss their proposals to see if it falls within the current scope of the program.

Deadline: Jan. 31

(703) 306-1949


America Online Inc.

AOL is launching an Interactive Education Grants program under its newly created AOL Foundation. Open to K-12 teachers, education leaders, parents, and other community leaders, the grants will be awarded to those who develop innovative and creative ways to enhance student learning through the online medium. Special emphasis will be placed on proposals that reach socio-economically disadvantaged children and communities. For more information, contact Jill Stephens, corporate outreach director, or eMail Deadline:Feb.1

(703) 265-1342



Ameritech donated $3.2 million to K-12 schools in 1997. Through its SuperSchool program, the company supports projects that help school leaders learn how to use technology in their schools. It also funds alliances among schools so they may benefit from telecommunications technologies they otherwise couldn’t afford. Ameritech awards are limited to schools in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

(312) 750-5037

AT&T Learning Network

The AT&T Foundation supports school programs that use technology to enhance teaching and learning. Grants are available to all accredited public and private elementary and secondary schools. The grants must fund the use and application of technology, not the equipment and infrastructure necessary to support its use. AT&T is interested in projects that target family involvement, professional development, lifelong learning, and community collaboration. Applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal based on brief, preliminary pre-proposals.

Digital Corporate Contributions Program

Digital Equipment Corp. seeks to promote academic excellence through the accessibility of technology in the classroom. Digital provides cash or equipment grants to schools that can demonstrate a special need or an innovative use for the assistance. You are encouraged to call the Corporate Contributions office to discuss your project or contact the office by eMail,

(508) 493-6550

Eaton Corp. Foundation

The Eaton Corp. Foundation funds projects that prepare minority youths for employment, particularly projects that focus on math, science, and technology careers. Grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, with more than $1 million awarded last year. Schools and nonprofits are eligible, but the foundation restricts its giving to the 30 states with company operations. Call for application guidelines.

(216) 523-5000

Great Asante

This is a relatively new program that awards free computer networks to schools. Grants worth up to $14,000 provide all the hardware and software necessary to network 50 school computers. Application guidelines are available at the web site.

JDL Technologies, (800) 535-3969

Asante, (408) 435-8401


Hewlett-Packard makes cash or equipment donations for model programs supporting national K-12 math and science initiatives. HP’s Contributions Board makes quarterly funding decisions. Preference is given to projects that are national in scope, can be replicated nationally, or are located in communities where HP has a corporate facility. Applicants must submit a proposal summary form (available on the web site) and five-page narrative.

(415) 857-5197

Intel Foundation

Intel funds programs that advance math, science, or technology education, promote science careers among women and underrepresented minorities, or increase public understanding of technology and its impact. National grants apply to nationwide projects or pilots for national programs. Community grants apply to projects located in a community where Intel has a major facility: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, or Washington. An application is available at the web site.

Mars Foundation

The Mars Foundation offers a variety of grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for K-12 curriculum development, teacher professional development, computer and equipment acquisitions, and capital building projects. For additional information, write to Sue Martin, Mars Foundation, 6885 Elm St., McLean, VA 22101.

Motorola Foundation

Grants from $1,000 to $10,000 that focus on enhancing math, science, and technology opportunities for minorities and the economically disadvantaged are available from the Motorola Foundation. Contact Program Manager, Motorola Foundation, 1303 E. Algonquin Road, Schaumburg, IL 60196.

(708) 576-6200

Pfizer Education Initiative

Although the Pfizer Foundation is primarily concerned with health care, you might be able to slip in through an education program called Utilizing New Technology. Grants of up to $10,000 are given for teacher training or the application of technology in K-12 math and science classrooms. Applications may be submitted any time.

Sprint Foundation

Don Forsythe, a Sprint Foundation program officer, said a limited number of grants would be available for projects in areas with a significant employee presence, primarily Kansas City, Atlanta, Dallas, and Sacramento. The Sprint Foundation supports projects that foster school reform through the use of new technologies and communications media and through fresh approaches to the enhancement of teacher skills. Schools and other education-related nonprofit agencies may apply for grants totaling about $500,000 per year. Call to talk to a program officer first or check out Sprint’s web site for application guidelines.

(913) 624-3343

$36 million from Pennsylvania Department of Education

For the Link-to-Learn initiative, which aims to expand the use of technology in Pennsylvania’s classrooms, $36.3 million to 573 state districts and vocational schools. The grants include $2 million earmarked for year 2000 assessment and compliance projects.

(717) 783-6788

$30 million from U.S. Department of Education

For the Technology Innovative Challenge Grant program, which funds teacher training in the use of new technologies, $30 million to 20 partnerships encompassing 150 school districts in 17 states.


$24 million from Louisiana Department of Education

For the Classroom-Based Technology Fund, which helps school systems and independent schools implement their local technology plans, nearly $24 million to 66 Louisiana schools and districts.

(225) 342-4411

$16 million from U.S. Department of Agriculture

For the federal Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, $16 million in grants and loans to 60 rural organizations throughout the United States. Thirty-five schools and learning centers received more than $10 million to fund telecommunications and distance learning projects.

(202) 720-1255

$4 million from Milken Family Foundation

For the National Educator Awards, which recognize outstanding public school educators, cash awards of $25,000 each to 160 educators in 38 states. Many winners were singled out for their use of technology in classrooms. In a separate donation, the Milken Foundation also awarded Educator Network Grants to the California, Indiana, and Massachusetts Departments of Education for various technology projects.

(310) 998-2800

$2.6 million from Iowa Department of Education

For the federal Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, which helps economically challenged districts gain access to technology, nearly $2.6 million to 61 Iowa schools.

(515) 281-5294

$376,000 from AOL Foundation

For the Interactive Education Initiative, which encourages innovative use of technology in K-12 education, more than $376,000 to 54 schools and learning centers in 23 states. Recipients also receive technical assistance and free AOL accounts from the foundation.

(703) 265-1181

$330,000 from National Semiconductor Corp.

For the Internet Innovator Awards, which recognize effective use of the internet in the classroom, $10,000 each to 11 teachers from California, Texas, and Maine, and $20,000 to each teacher’s school. Next year’s awards will be presented in September and teachers may apply through April 2.

(408) 721-2440

$240,000 from Electronic Data Systems Corp.

For the EDS Technology Grant program, which helps teachers of children ages 6 to 12 purchase information technology products and services, $240,000 to 160 elementary school teachers worldwide. The grants must be used to pay for technology products, training, or services not provided by the teachers’ schools or districts.

(888) 607-7566

$27,500 from AT&T Foundation

To help fund the Dorsey Technological Institute, a technology cluster school serving K-12 students and their parents, $27,500 to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

(212) 387-4801


Grantmaker Profile: 21st Century Learning Centers

21st Century Learning Centers

Contact: Amanda Clyburn

U.S. Dept. of Education/OERI

555 New Jersey Ave., NW

Washington DC 20208-5644

FAX: 202/219-2198



Another way to build infrastructure for your schools is through one of the Department of Education’s newest programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CLC), which provides grants to inner city and rural public schools for after-hours, in-school learning centers.

CLC funds may be used to buy equipment to fund technology and telecommunications activities, according to Robert Stonehill, director of state and local services division of the Office of Educational Resources and Instruction (OERI). All CLC grant recipients must choose from a list of program activities it will support, and technology-based learning is among one of the most popular, said Stonehill.

And all that equipment can be used by students during classroom hours, too, said Stonehill.

The next competition will be for $100 million, given in 300 grants to qualified public schools. An average grant will be about $400,000. said Stonehill You must submit an application to this competitive program, and you can find guidelines on the CLC’s web site. No deadline has yet been set, but Stonehill expects a date near March 1, 1999.

Program Background

In 1998, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program provided nearly $40 million to rural and inner-city public schools to address the educational needs of its community afterschool, and during weekends and summers.

Another $60 million went to a second round of winners late this year.

The program awards grants to provide expanded learning opportunities for children in a safe, drug-free and supervised environment. Funds are used by 21st Century Community Learning Center schools to stay open longer provide students with a variety of activities, such as homework centers;intensive mentoring in basic skills; drug and violence prevention counseling; help for middle school students to prepare to take college prep courses in high school enrichment in the core academic subjects; opportunities to participate in recreational activities, chorus, band and the arts; technology education programs; and services for children and youth with disabilities.

Grants have been used by 321 rural and inner-city public schools in 99 communities–in collaboration with other public and non-profit agencies and organizations, local businesses, educational entities (such as vocational and adult education programs, school-to-work programs, and post-secondary institutions), and scientific/cultural, and other community institutions–are now participating as 21st Century CLCs.

Giving guidelines

While CLC programs must offer a broad range of services to address the educational, health, social services, cultural, and recreational needs of the community, grants awarded through this program must focus primarily on providing children and youth with expanded learning opportunities in a safe, drug-free environment.

Community Learning Centers must be established within a public elementary, middle or secondary school building. A CLC must:

• provide educational, recreational, health, and social service programs for residents of all ages within a local community, and

• be operated by a local educational agency in conjunction with local governmental agencies, businesses, vocational education programs, institutions of higher education, community colleges, and cultural, recreational, and other community and human service entities.

21st Century Community Learning Center grants are awards for up to three years, and the agency recommends that applicants request level funding for the three years of the grant period.

The “absolute priority” established for this program requires grantees to provide–among the array of other services–“activities that offer significant expanded learning opportunities for children and youth in the community.

As far as your telecommunications, project funds may be used to purchase equipment and remodel outdated facilities. Schools are encouraged to use funds to accomplish a variety of activities that may benefit the students and community that surrounds the school.

Who can apply?

Only rural or inner-city public elementary, middle or secondary schools, consortia of such schools, or local educational agencies (LEAs) applying on their behalf are eligible to participate. The agency does not recommend that individual schools apply without the endorsement of their LEA.

Public schools are strongly encouraged to collaborate with other public and nonprofit agencies and organizations, businesses, recreational, cultural, and other community service or educational entities, such as educational entities, such as vocational and adult education programs, school-to-work programs, community colleges or universities.

Application packages can be requested by fax, eMail, mail or telephone. To request an application by telephone, call 800-USA-LEARN or 202/219-2180. The application is also the CLC’s web site.


Funding Toolbox: Seven ways to build your fundraising team

With the recent passing of the federal budget bill–giving more dollars than ever before to school technology–plus the rash of grants for technology from major corporate and private grantors, now’s a good time to organize–and motivate–your grants-getting team.

Many people picture grant writers locked away in the lonely writer’s garret for days on end crafting the perfect proposal. Finally, after several days, perhaps even weeks go by, the harried writer emerges with the completed proposal in hand ready to mail it or more than likely, hand deliver it to the funding source. There is, however, something terribly wrong with this picture!

Successful grant writers do not work in a vacuum. Writing must be approached as a team effort, relying on the knowledge and expertise of several people to design the idea/project that you need funding for, to hammer out the fine details of how the project is going to happen on a day-to-day basis, to determine what roles specific staff people will play in the project, to determine what parameters will be used to define the success of the project and to determine how these parameters will be measured.

Here are some specific ways that you can involve other individuals in the grants process to improve the quality of proposals that are submitted:

1. Involve the staff who will carry out the project in the design stages so that there is buy-in and commitment on their part. Rarely does anyone appreciate being told that they are totally responsible for a project that some one else designed. The same goes for grant proposals. If a grant writer writes a proposal without assistance and it is funded, the staff will be responsible for carrying out the project, not the grant writer. The staff are familiar with what happens in the classroom, how projects can reasonably be implemented and how students react. Without this specialized insight, a grant writer is merely guessing at what a project will look like when it comes to fruition.

2. Carefully review the Request for Proposal and make a list of items and information that will be needed to complete the proposal. These assignments can then be divided among people who have access to specific types of information and expertise.

3. Use the business manager to assist with budget information. I find that accounting and business staff are of tremendous help when working on the budget section. For example, they are familiar with indirect cost rates and salary and benefit ratios and they can add and double-check numbers a lot faster than I can!

4. Use the Director of Personnel to assist with the development of new job descriptions for new positions or to get current job descriptions of staff.

5. Use individuals familiar with evaluation procedures to assist with designing the project evaluation. Often this is the most difficult section of a proposal to write. Finding a person or two who is skilled in evaluating can be a godsend when it comes time to write this particular section! If they can’t help you to write, at least ask them to review what you’ve written to be sure that the goals and objectives are measurable and the evaluation plan really will provide the data that is needed to evaluate the project’s success.

6. Use individuals with public relations expertise to assist with the design and formatting of the proposal. Many people have a tendency to write paragraph after paragraph of narrative. It is important to remember that proposals should be “reader friendly”. There is nothing wrong with using indentations, bullets, bold and italics to add “zest” to your narrative, and in some cases, to actually make it easier to read. Graphics are also another added addition to the narrative in cases where it is easier to interpret a picture than to read paragraph after paragraph of statistics.

7. Create an internal grant review team to review proposals before they are submitted. This group can be given the actual scoring sheet if it is included in the Request for Proposal and can function as a review panel before the grant even leaves the office. Make sure that the members of the review team are from various fields in addition to education. This is an excellent way to involve the community in your process and provide an unbiased critique of the proposal. Remember, however, that in order to review a grant, readers have to be trained. You must provide them with guidelines so that they know the kinds of information that they are looking for in the specific sections of the proposal. If a scoring sheet is not a part of the RFP, there will often be a set of questions that are required to be answered in each proposal section. Give these to your readers as guides. Obviously, if the answers to the questions cannot be found easily, some editing and revising of the narrative must be done.

Using a team approach takes some getting used to. And, it can be frustrating at times trying to get information from people in a timely manner. However, I find that in the long run, using this type of approach is easier because it gets several people excited about the grants process, it gets them involved and it keeps the whole process going which makes my job a lot easier. Besides, who wants to be stuck in a lonely writer’s garret, anyway?!


Ten Foolproof Steps For Outsourcing Network Support

T.H.E. Journal, November 1998, p. 22

Many schools are discovering that it’s easier to find an independent contractor to build and maintain their internal computer networks than to perform the work in-house. Here are ten critical steps to follow if you’re going to shop around for a company to install and manage your school’s network:

  1. Research different companies. Get references on potential companies; find out how long they’ve been in business (you should look for a company that has at least five years’ experience); and don’t hire friends or students’ parents — this can make it difficult to terminate a contract if something goes wrong.

  2. Check for certification. Contact Microsoft or Novell for a list of authorized installers near you. Also make sure any engineers working on your network are certified by Microsoft or Novell for the type of equipment they’re installing.

  3. Interview prospective firms. Evaluate prospective firms during an interview process to gauge how the company will respond to your needs. Have all the companies write proposals, and evaluate them according to how each candidate appears to be able to work with your school’s unique budget and operational needs.

  4. Avoid multiple vendors. Select a single company that will provide all the services you require. This will minimize problems of accountability, which can easily arise when more than one vendor builds a single network.

  5. Nail down details. As part of the interview process, get explicit answers on hourly rates (expect $75-$150 per hour), find out if educational discounts are offered, and obtain written guarantees on emergency response times. Also, ask for information on how many employees are on call during different hours of the day. Avoid one-person operations.

  6. Have workstations custom-built. By getting the network vendor to provide custom-built workstations, you can deal with a single company and get faster response times than with larger computer companies or retail stores.

  7. Place a test order with finalists. Get bids on items, and then place an order with your top candidates. Evaluate the delivery, installation, and customer service procedures of each.

  8. Secure a warranty that allows for replacement of parts at no charge for the first year.

  9. Communicate security needs. Have the company you select train someone at your school to manage network accounts and passwords. Also ask the vendor to install protection software on the workstations that keeps students from accidentally or maliciously altering or deleting software.

  10. Acclimate the company to the school environment. Many companies don’t understand or realize that schools have unique schedules and needs. Classes can be easily disrupted by poorly timed deliveries and installations. Brief the company on these special issues ahead of time.

Two New “Internets” Will Bring Increased Speed and Security To Education Technology Users

Syllabus, November/December 1998, p. 32

Two new high-speed versions of the Internet are in development that in the next two to four years will transform the way educators and the scientific community work with each other online.

The Next Generation Internet (NGI) will feature enhanced capabilities for multimedia applications that use advanced graphics, animations, voice, and video technologies. By 2001, this new Internet could operate at speeds 1,000 times greater than those on the current Internet. Digital libraries and high-quality, real-time video applications would be able to coexist on this Internet.

Another similar initiative under way is called Internet2 and is currently being designed by more than 100 universities to create online applications for higher education. Schools can expect Internet2 to provide enhanced distance education opportunities as well as improved security.


Use These Tools To Help Computer Users With Special Needs and Disabilities

Technology & Learning, November/December 1998, p. 55

Technology & Learning profiles leading sources of computer software and hardware that are designed to assist special-needs learners and persons with disabilities who use computers and technology in the classroom. While many schools have installed some software solutions, there are other assistive technologies, including hardware applications, that are available to schools. Some of them are:

Closed Captioning Systems, which add closed captioning to video tape collections.

Alternative Input Devices, which let users manipulate the cursor and type without using a mouse or keyboard.

Touch Screens, which let students move the cursor and select items by touching the monitor.


Five Ingredients To Make Your School More Like This Leading High-Tech School

Converge, October 1998

Several ingredients combined to make California’s New Technology High School in Napa Valley a success:

  1. The school caters to typical middle-of-the-road students, who are neither failing nor at the top of their class.

  2. The school uses state-of-the-art technology and has a computer-to-student ratio of one-to-one.

  3. The school grew out of a need of local businesses that were looking for tech-savvy high school graduates to join the workforce.

  4. The school received support, training, and funding from more than 45 community partners, including businesses and education groups.

  5. The school was designed to mimic the corporate workplace and was designed by a facilities planner who works for Silicon Graphics, a leading Silicon Valley technology company.

The end result is a school where students work on computer projects with real-world application and are given a greater sense of ownership at the school.