After-school technology programs may get huge funding boost

President Clinton has announced plans to triple funding for the federal government’s after-school grants program, from its current level of $200 million to $600 million in fiscal year 2000.

Called 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the program gives money to rural and inner-city public school districts to fund after-hours, in-school learning programs–and many districts are taking advantage of the grants to build or improve their technology infrastructure.

Clinton unveiled his plan in a White House ceremony Jan. 7 as part of a series of announcements leading up to his Jan. 19 State of the Union address and the proposal of his fiscal year 2000 budget in February. He also proposed that schools with programs in place to end social promotion be given extra consideration for the grants.

The program is one of the more popular–and less controversial–education initiatives supported by the president. It focuses on the needs of children who would otherwise be left unattended during after-school hours, when drug and alcohol use and criminal activity among teens are most likely to occur.

“On any given day when school lets out, tens of millions of working parents look nervously at the clock, hoping and praying their children will be okay,” Clinton said. “With quality after school [programs]…students learn their lessons in the schoolhouse, not in the street.”

A huge need

The program helps schools expand the learning opportunities for children in a safe, drug-free, and supervised environment once the school day is over. Funds can be used to provide a variety of activities, including technology education programs.

Introduced in 1997, 21st Century Community Learning Centers currently serves 190,000 children at 800 schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The proposed expansion would benefit an additional one million students, Clinton said.

The program’s popularity was demonstrated last year when 2,000 school districts applied for 286 grants.

“Clearly, there’s a huge need,” Joyce Shortt, assistant director of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at Wellesley College, told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s a real groundswell of support for these programs.”

A survey funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation last August indicated that 80 percent of those polled were willing to let federal or state tax money fund after-school programs, even if it meant their own taxes would go up. The survey of 800 registered voters had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Building lifelong learning

Among other things, 21st Century Community Learning Center funds can be used to purchase technology equipment, according to Robert Stonehill, director of the state and local services division of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Resources and Instruction.

Applicants must choose from a list of 13 program activities the grant will support, and technology-based learning is the most popular. Eighty-nine percent of last year’s applicants proposed technology services. Equipment purchased with the grant can be used by students during normal classroom hours as well as after school, Stonehill said.

The Cushing, Okla., Public Schools, for example, used part of its 1998 award to buy curriculum software and internet access for each of the 28 workstations in the district’s middle school computer lab. The school allows public access to the lab’s computers from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mon.-Fri.

“We look at this grant as one step in the process of exposing people in the community to lifelong learning opportunities,” said Linda Wasson, director of Cushing’s after-school programs. “With the help of this grant, more students are going to be able to access information anytime–and have fun doing it.”

Only rural or inner-city public school districts or consortia are eligible to apply. The average size award is $375,000 for a grant that supports three learning centers. School districts have until March 1 to apply for a 1999 grant.


Apple suspends education grants for 1999

Technology grantseekers learned in December that long-time friend Apple Computer would be putting its K-12 giving on hold. In an effort to sustain its long-term profitability, Apple has suspended all formal grants and equipment donations to K-12 schools, at least for 1999.

For 20 consecutive years, Apple had awarded grants to schools through its Education Grants program. Since 1978, Apple reportedly has awarded $30 million to 550 schools and institutions.

Now, a statement on the company’s web site reads, “. . . Apple made the decision to limit its involvement in grants and equipment loans to individuals and institutions in order to help the company maintain long-term profitability. Therefore, there will be no formal grant program or donations of cash or equipment to individuals or institutions this year.”

Apple’s decision comes just two months after the company announced its first profitable year since 1995. On Oct. 14, 1998, Apple co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs announced a profit of $309 million for fiscal year 1998. But that profit followed losses the previous year of more than $1 billion, as Apple steadily lost market share to companies whose computers run under competing operating systems.

Education Grants

Last year, Apple gave more than $2 million to K-12 schools: $1 million in Education Grants to 10 U.S. schools, and about $1 million in network software and training to 2,200 Los Angeles County schools.

The company’s Education Grants supported partnerships between K-12 schools and other institutions. Winning schools received hardware, software, training, and support for their projects. One such project was the Sapulpa, Okla., Junior High School’s Project TRANSPORT, a partnership with Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, which received an Education Grant last summer.

Project TRANSPORT encourages eighth-graders pursue interdisciplinary studies using technology. In a unit on weather, for example, students track several variables using probes and a statewide system of weather towers, then share their predictions with local media and on the internet.

Students from ORU’s school of education help teach the technology and receive teaching practice in the process. For its part, Apple supplied presentation software, training, and G3 computers for from eight to 10 stations.

“It’s disappointing” that Apple has chosen not to continue the program this year, said Mike Shanahan, principal of Sapulpa Junior High School. Apple’s grant has had a big impact on student learning at Sapulpa, he said: “This has really been a boon to us.”

John Santoro, public relations manager for Apple’s education division, told STFB that Apple’s education discounts still represent a major contribution to schools. “Apple continues to recognize the importance of education,” Santoro said. “I’m sure [the company] will take a good hard look at the program again for next year.”


Specialized giving, tighter accountability mark today’s philanthropy

According to Nadya Shmavonian, former executive vice president of Pew Charitable Trusts, large foundations are moving away from broad-based funding efforts and toward specialized areas of giving. The result: It’s more important than ever to do your homework when targeting foundations for technology grants.

In a Dec. 13 special report for the Washington Post titled “The New Philanthropy,” Shmavonian described how the business of philanthropy is changing. Though many foundations have seen their endowments grow to record levels during the 1990s, the increases have been offset by a huge decline in federal support for fields of historic philanthropic interest such as education and the arts.

“Given the magnitude of these cuts, foundations cannot begin to fill all the gaps,” Shmavonian said. As a result, many large, independent foundations–like Pew Charitable Trusts–are strategically focusing their allocation of grants in an effort to “bring about lasting and sometimes systemic change to chosen fields, rather than to support a patchwork of disparate projects.”

The Post report also includes perspectives from other foundation leaders. Jed Emerson, executive director of the Roberts Foundation’s Enterprise Development Fund, which allocates $3 million a year in the San Francisco Bay area, noted a greater emphasis on accountability in today’s giving.

“The main difference between classical philanthropy and the venture philanthropy being pursued [today] is a shift in the understanding of a donar’s gift as being not simply an act of charity, but an investment,” Emerson said. “This means donors are asking recipients to track and document return on investment and viewing their gifts…as part of a philanthropic portfolio being managed to achieve certain stated objectives.”


Grants: Opportunities, Deadlines and Awards


Teaching with Computer Technology

This grant program from Compaq Computer Corp. awards a Compaq computer to two teachers from each state and the District of Columbia. Applicants must submit a plan for using the computer to support an innovative and exemplary ongoing classroom project.

Deadline: Feb. 15

(800) 88-TEACH



21st Century Community Learning Centers

This $100 million U.S. Department of Education (ED) program is open to rural and inner-city public schools and consortia to help them plan, implement, or expand after-hours, in-school projects that benefit the educational, social, cultural, and recreational needs of the community. Funds can be used to purchase technology, since technology-based learning is among the list of supported activities. About 300 grants of between $35,000 and $2 million will be awarded, with the average grant estimated at $400,000. The application package and examples of successful 1998 applications are available online. For further information, contact Amanda Clyburn at (202) 219-2180 or Steve Balkcom at (202) 219-2089.

Deadline: March 1



Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP)

About $17 million will be awarded through this program from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. TIIAP is a highly-competitive program that awards matching grants for innovative projects using advanced telecommunications and information technology. TIIAP is especially interested in projects developed by smaller, locally-based organizations that represent technologically underserved communities across the nation. The average award is $350,000 and lasts 2-3 years. For more information, contact Stephen J. Downs, Director, or eMail

Deadline: March 11

(202) 482-2048


Technology Innovation Challenge Grants

This $22 million program from ED awards grants to consortia that are working to improve and expand new applications of technology to strengthen school reform efforts, improve student achievement, and provide for sustained professional development of teachers, administrators, and school library media personnel. Only consortia are eligible and must include at least one school district with a high number of children living in poverty. About 20 grants ranging from $500,000 to $2 million per year will be awarded.

Deadline: March 12



National Leadership Grants

The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides these grants to enhance the quality of library services nationwide and to strengthen ties between libraries and museums. School libraries are eligible, and encouraged, to apply. Awards range from $15,000-$500,000 and 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. For more information, contact Jeanne McConnell, program officer, at (202) 606-5389 or

Deadline: March 19

(202) 606-5227

COOL Awards

Educators who develop new ways to use technology in the classroom can win cash grants and computers from broadband company MediaOne through this new grant program. Fourteen teams of educators will win cash grants of $8,000, plus computers, in-class training, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The competition is open to educators in MediaOne service areas of California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshie, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Deadline: March 20

(800) 871-6852

Urban Systemic Program in Science, Math, and Technology (USP)

This National Science Foundation grant promotes the systemic reform of science and math education for urban K-12 students. Among the program’s goals are to improve urban districts’ implementations of a standards-based, inquiry-centered science, math, and technology education for all students, and to increase the number of skilled entrants to the technology-based workforce. About $20 million is available for an estimated 10-12 awards ranging from $400,000 to $3 million per year. For more information, contact Celeste Pea, program officer, Room 875, Division of Educational System Reform, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230; eMail

Deadline: March 31

(703) 306-1684




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 Grants

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 focus on family involvement, professional development, lifelong learning, and community collaboration. The foundation doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals, but you are invited to submit a brief, one-page letter of interest stating your request. For more information, contact Marilyn Reznick at

(212) 387-6555


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. Call the Corporate Contributions office to discuss your project or contact the office by eMail,

(508) 493-6550


Eaton Corporation Foundation

The Eaton Corporation Foundation funds projects that prepare minority youth for employment, particularly those which 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 non-profits are eligible, but the foundation restricts its giving to the 30 states with company operations. Call for application guidelines.

(216) 523-5000

Hewlett-Packard Grants

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 5-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 communities where Intel has a major facility: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and 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 East 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 teachers’ skills. Schools and other education-related nonprofit agencies can 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


Computers 4 Kids

Computers 4 Kids Inc., a national nonprofit organization, accepts and refurbishes donated computer equipment, then places it in schools with limited resources. Grant requests are reviewed quarterly. They must include your plans for using the equipment and a demonstration of your need. You can find more information and an application form on the Computers 4 Kids web site.

Computers for Learning

This is a federal program designed to donate surplus government computer equipment to schools and educational nonprofit organizations, giving special consideration to those most in need. You can register your school at the Computers for Learning web site.

Detwiler Foundation

Since its inception in 1991, the Detwiler Foundation has helped place more than 37,000 computers into California schools. The foundation recently expanded its operation to include partnerships with 18 other states. For more information, contact Jerry Grayson at (800) 939-6000, ext. 18.

National Cristina Foundation

The goal of the Cristina Foundation is to ensure access to computer technology for people with disabilities and at-risk or economically disadvantaged students. The foundation supports its goal by awarding donated equipment to deserving schools and organizations.

(800) 274-7846

$10.1 million from Connecticut Department of Education

For the Technology Infrastructure Grant program, $10.1 million to 70 Connecticut school districts. Funds may be used to upgrade or install wiring and improve infrastructure to support advanced telecommunications applications. State legislation earmarks $1 million each for Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury. The remaining $6 million was distributed through a competitive grant process. The program has distributed $20 million to 119 districts over the past three years.

(860) 566-8888


$3 million from Cinergy Foundation

For a program called Building Assets and Support for Innovative Communities & Schools (BASICS), $3 million to 20 districts in Cinergy’s service area in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and Indiana. The grants will fund the planning and implementation of innovative school reform, including the use of technology to prepare students for tomorrow’s economy. Fairfield City School District of Ohio received the first award and is a pilot for the program.

(800) 428-4337

$1.2 million from BellSouth Foundation

To support comprehensive K-12 education reform, $1.2 million to 16 educational institutions in the southeastern U.S. Virtually all of the grants reflect a focus on quality teachers, and most include the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Awards included $25,000 to Pinellas Education Foundation in Florida to support a teacher technology training program in two schools, and $25,000 to Wilmington Children’s Museum in North Carolina to create a computer center for community and school use.

(404) 249-2849

$1 million from Bell Atlantic – Virginia

For its Distance Learning Grants program, $1 million to 10 Virginia schools, districts, colleges, and consortia. The program awards grants to K-12 public schools and state-supported colleges in the company’s Virginia service area. Recipients may use the grants to purchase the classroom equipment–such as TV monitors, cameras, and microphones–necessary for interactive distance learning. Bell Atlantic plans to fund an additional $2 million in distance learning grants over the next two years. For more information, write to: Manager – Distance Learning Grants, Bell Atlantic – Virginia, 11th Floor, 600 E. Main St., Richmond, VA 23219; or eMail:

(800) 360-7955

$106,000 from Champlin Foundations

To help finance the district’s technology plan, $106,000 to the Providence, R.I., School Department. The grant will be used to buy computers, software, printers, and digital cameras for the district’s elementary schools. The Champlin Foundations make direct grants for capital needs (such as the purchase of equipment) to tax exempt organizations, substantially all in Rhode Island.

(401) 736-0370

$40,000 from Assisi Foundation

To equip the school’s new science and technology laboratory, $40,000 to Sacred Heart School in Memphis, Tenn. The grant will provide computers and manipulatives–equipment that provides students with hands-on learning experiences–to enhance science and technology classes for grades K-8. The Assisi Foundation is a private grant-making foundation that awards grants quarterly in the mid-South for education, health care, the arts, and community needs.

(901) 684-1564


Grantmaker Profile: Teacher Enhancement

Contact: Francis (Skip) Fennell, Program Director

Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education

National Science Foundation, Room 885

4201 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington, VA 22230

Phone: (703) 306-1613

Fax: (703) 306-0412


To fully support the use of technology in your school or district, the U.S. Department of Education recommends that you spend about 30 percent of your technology budget on professional development. But where are you going to get the money to train teachers and other staff members in the use of technology? For starters, you might try this National Science Foundation program.

Teacher Enhancement (TE) supports professional development projects in the context of improving science, math, and technology (SMT) education. Projects typically involve entire school communities–administrators as well as teachers–to promote “supportive school organizations and cultures, enabling teachers to engage all students in rich and challenging learning environments.” One of the program’s goals is to strengthen the teacher workforce by “increasing understanding and use of appropriate and effective applications of educational technologies.”

Last year, TE awarded grants of up to $1.2 million per year for 3-5 years. TE is a cost-sharing program, which means successful candidates must show how they plan to supplement the award with other funding sources. It’s also a competitive program: According to program director Skip Fennell, only about 25 percent of applications are funded each year. In 1997, for example, 52 of the 211 proposals were funded.

At press time, NSF had yet to release this year’s guidelines–but check its web site, because they’ll probably be posted by the time you read this. Preliminary proposals, which are required and are limited to 6 pages, are due around April 1 and give applicants a chance to get feedback from NSF program officers before submitting full proposals, which are due in August.

According to Fennell, K-12 districts are most likely to receive funding in two categories: local systemic change (LSC) and educational leadership.

Local systemic change

LSC projects support school systems and their partners in reforming the delivery of science and math education in grades K-12. School districts or coalitions of school districts must submit proposals in partnership with at least one organization with a scientific or educational mission, such as a college or university, state or local education agency, professional society, research lab, or private foundation.

LSC projects represent a shift in focus from professional development of individual teachers to that of all teachers within a school organization. Projects should result in the establishment of professional communities that empower teachers to change their practice and reflect on their own teaching and learning. In these projects, “new beliefs, skills, and behaviors are learned and explored within a supportive school culture, which is itself engaged in renewal.”

NSF funds are intended to support teacher enhancement activities, not the actual costs of providing selected curricula for classroom use. Instructional materials, equipment, and supplies aren’t covered; however, they may be funded by other sources in the sharing of costs.

One exception to that rule from last year’s program: In situations where networking technology would help sustain professional development opportunities for teachers, equipment purchase was considered within the allowable funding level, as long as other requirements were met.

Last year’s grants offered up to $3,000 per teacher for projects that focused on grades K-8, to a total of $1.2 million per year, and up to $4,500 per teacher for projects that focused on grades 7-12, to a total of $1 million per year. Cost sharing from the school district, state funds, the private sector, and project partners was expected to equal or exceed the amount requested from NSF.

Educational leadership

Educational leadership projects prepare teachers to serve as school or district mentors and/or agents of change responsible for supporting the improvement of SMT education. Within the category of educational leadership, K-12 districts are most likely to be funded in the sub-category “Teacher Leaders.”

Last year’s Teacher Leaders projects targeted teachers at the middle- and high-school levels. Projects with the potential for greatest impact are most likely to be funded–so you should partner with as many other districts as possible when applying.

NSF limits its support for projects in this area to an average cost of $6,000 per teacher. In addition to teachers, leadership teams may also include building and district administrators and other appropriate personnel.

Typical leadership projects exceed the equivalent of four-to-six weeks in duration. They may involve multiple-year work through summer institutes and/or academic year programs. Projects must include adequate time for in-depth study, reflection, and guided practice and should model effective approaches to curriculum, teaching, and assessment.


Funding Toolbox: To get the big gifts, show your face!

It’s a well-known fact in non-profit fundraising circles that individuals give the majority of charitable dollars. It’s another that the single best way to secure a gift is a face-to-face meeting. As the saying goes, people don’t give money to causes; people give money to people. Fundraisers know it; salespeople know it; and you should know it, too.

But K-12 schools don’t typically go out and meet the funders, like their private and post-secondary school counterparts. Instead, say the experts, they’re more likely to raise funds from bulky federal proposals.

According to Dr. Stan Levenson, a fundraising consultant in Poway, Calif., you can raise more money for less effort by going to private and corporate funders–and individuals. Levenson, who is currently writing a book called How to Get Grants & Gifts for K-12 Schools (to be published in 1999 for Allyn & Bacon), says that K-12 leaders must learn to approach private and corporate foundations–as well as individual donors–if they want to raise substantial gifts for their technology purchases.

“The good fundraisers get out and meet the funders,” Levenson says.

Why don’t K-12 school leaders meet funders? According to Levenson, they don’t have experience. Usually, Levenson said, school fund seekers have raised dollars through formula grants. But big purchases, such as technology equipment and services, demand a supercharged funding strategy.

The key is meeting face-to-face with a key contact inside the organization, or with the individual donor. This means:

1. Identifying the key contact or individual donor;

2. Making the contact and securing the meeting; and

3. Planning the meeting.

1. Identify the contact

You can identify key contacts from directories published specifically for this purpose. (I’m the editor of School Technology Funding Directory, published by eSchool News, and so I know it’s the most up-to-date resource of its kind!)

Once you have the contact information, you’ll want to draft a brief, one-page letter to the program officer listed as the contact introducing yourself and your organization. Briefly outline your proposed project–perhaps obtaining funds and human resource assistance to build a wide-area network that will connect all the schools in your district–and how much money you need. You might want to offer to visit the program officer to discuss your ideas further.

Here’s a great opportunity to pull in others for help. Ask your board members to start by coming up with a list of individuals to solicit for gifts, says Jenine Rabin, donor relations officer for the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Rabin, who oversees personal solicitations from individuals totaling $1.7 million a year, says that board members probably know a lot of people in the community who would be willing to give a donation. Even if it’s a small one, they can be moved up the giving scale later.

Your board members may even know corporate or foundation people who could eventually get you in to see someone who makes giving decisions. The key is to work with the people you already know.

2. Make the contact and secure the meeting

Your goal in the meeting is to get the program officer or the individual donor interested and involved in your schools. You want to communicate the needs of your schools, and how they fit with the foundation’s giving priorities. “Once [donors] understand and become involved,” Levenson says, “they will give to schools, and in many instances will give major dollars.”

• Meet at the foundation office. Your first visit should be to the funder’s office. You’re on their ‘home turf,’ and you can get them interested in your program. Taking the time and effort to travel to a potential funder’s office is part of what Levenson calls the “nurturing process.” Before you leave, set up the next meeting at your school.

• Bring your top administrators and board members. Bringing a team of top school leaders will help make an impact on a foundation, Levenson says. “If you’re going after big bucks you need to get some big people involved,” Levenson says. That means the superintendent, technology director, and perhaps a couple of board members.

Levenson sees this played time and time again. Last year, he took a superintendent from a San Diego area school system to meet two funders. Both program officers commented that it was only the second time they’d ever met with the head of a K-12 school system who wanted to ask for money–and the effort paid off.

3. Planning the meeting

• Do your homework. Before you even contact foundation, know their giving priorities, the inside contacts, and recent gifts. “It’s absolutely critical to match up your needs with foundations’ interests,” Levenson said. He also suggests trying to find some personal connection with an inside contact–perhaps you both went to the same college. If you’re approaching an individual, know something about his or her interests. Do you know people in common? Does the individual sit on any community boards? The good news is that it’s a very good time for schools to ask for technology money from all kinds of sources. “Right now, schools are in the spotlight,” Levenson says. “There’s more and more money going into schools.”

• Thoroughly understand your needs. You must have a solid idea of how much money you need. But at the same time, be flexible enough to ask for suggestions from the program officer. “Look at them as resource people,” advises Levenson. “You don’t want to be the person with all the answers–be open to suggestions about how to improve your project, and incorporate them into your proposal.”

• Identify team members’ roles. Rabin says that before any meeting, all team members must be very clear about what role they will take during the hour or two you’ll be spending with a program officer. That way, the meeting can run smoothly without any key point falling through the cracks. You’ll want to discuss, for example, the following responsibilities:

• Who leads the meeting?

• Who sets the tone?

• Who answers program and budget questions?

• Who describes the organization?

• Who asks for the gift?

• Who finesses the ask?

• Who reinforces the ask?

• Who closes?

• Who is responsible for the followup/confirmation?

• Know the benefits of giving. You’ll also want to come up with a list of items to be sure to cover, such as your schools’ student population profile, mission, and needs. This will help you identify the benefits of funding your schools, which you should take the time to list out and distribute to everyone on your side who will be involved in the meeting. What exactly will the gift help you do? How will the money be spent? What academic areas do you expect to see improve, how will student life be better, what will your teachers enjoy with the new facilities?

Show off your schools

Although you may want your first meeting with the foundation or individual to be on their turf, persuading them to do a site visit is also a great way to get their active involvement. Once they accept the invitation, Levenson says, you’ve got a foot in the door.

Make sure you roll out the red carpet for visiting program officer. Levenson personally goes to the airport to greet visiting funders, and arranges for both arrival and exit meeting with top school personnel. The tour of your schools should occupy most of your day, but don’t forget the niceties–which might include lunch or other hospitality. At the end of this critical meeting, Levenson says, it’s not unusual for the program officer–impressed with what she’s seen–to say, “Why don’t you send me a five-page proposal for $100,000?”

Finally, you might also think about bringing in a consultant to help with major gifts. A good consultant can set up meetings, lay the “nurturing” groundwork before the meeting, and go along with you to help make the ask.


Tips for the 1999 competition

According to the U.S. Department of Education, last year’s 21st CCLC grant application process was the most competitive in its history. This year’s program should be even more so. Here are some tips to help distinguish your proposal from the rest of the pack.

Characteristics of high-quality after-school programs

• Goal setting and strong management

• Quality after-school staffing

• Low staff-to-student ratios

• Attention to safety, health, and nutrition issues

• Effective partnerships

• Strong involvement of families

• Coordination with regular school day

• Links between teachers and after-school staff

• Evaluation of program progress

1999 selection criteria

• Need for project (30 points)

• Quality of project design (30 points)

• Adequacy of resources (15 points)

• Quality of management plan(15 points)

• Quality of project evaluation(10 points)

Competitive priority #1

Applications for projects that assist students to meet or exceed state or local standards in core subjects receive up to 5 extra points.

Competitive priority #2

Applications that provide substantial services to Empowerment Zones or Enterprise Communities receive preference over other applications of equivalent technical merit.

What’s different in the 1999 competition?

The competitive priority for adolescents and middle schools will not apply.

The selection criteria place increased emphasis on the quality of project design, including measurable goals and linkages with other service agencies.

Applicants must provide more explicit information about community demographics, centers to be established, and the number of children to be served.

Typical errors in 1998 applications

• 125 applications were ineligible because they were not from public schools. For example, applications from community organizations, private schools, faith-based organizations, and for-profit companies cannot be funded.

• Applications did not specify a clear vision, defined goals, or measurable objectives.

• Applications did not identify the services to be provided, the days and hours of operation, or program participants.

• Budgets were incomplete, inaccurate, or for less than $35,000.

• Programs were not school-based.

• Roles and responsibilities of community partners were not clearly stated.

• Application narratives exceeded 20 pages in length or were not double-spaced.

• Critical information–such as cover pages, assurances, contact information, or abstracts–was missing.

• Applicants submitted supplementary information that could not be considered.


Many Schools’ Computer Setups Can Cause Repetitive Stress Injuries In Students

Cybertimes, January 16, 1999

A recent study of nearly a hundred students in 11 schools shows that many students risk repetitive stress injuries from poorly set up computer workstations.

The research, conducted by Cornell University and to be published in the May issue of Computers in the Schools, indicates that the problem could get worse as students spend more time working on computers in the classroom.

While most schools have rushed to bring technology to students, research shows few have thought out the health implications of badly designed workstations, which can lead to neck, back, and wrist pain and eventual injury to students.


Three Areas To Watch For Y2K Problems, And Eight Critical Ways To Fix Them

Converge, January 1999, p. 56

The director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Educational Technology identifies three key areas to watch for emerging “Year 2000” computer bugs:

  1. Administrative data processing. This area includes just about every administrative function at schools and in your school system, such as accounting, payroll, inventory, and assessment systems.

  2. Built-in computer chips. Everything from elevators to fire control to security systems use built-in computer chips that may have hidden Y2K problems.

  3. Service providers. Even if your school is 100 percent free of Y2K problems, chances are that not all the vendors and service providers you deal with are.

Here are eight critical ways to address these problems:

  1. Gain the support and assistance of key administrators, such as your superintendent and school board members.

  2. Take an inventory of all systems that may use built-in computer chips and determine the implications of failure.

  3. Get written sign-offs from every service provider and vendor that they are free from Y2K bugs.

  4. Analyze the risks and then prioritize trouble spots according to how critical they are to operations. Bear in mind that it will often be less expensive to replace problem systems than to patch them.

  5. Start testing every system to make certain that fixes actually work.

  6. Have back-up plans in place if systems fail. Start keeping back-up copies of mission-critical files.

  7. Keep stakeholders informed of your efforts and talk to legal counsel to minimize the chance of litigation arising from Y2K problems.

  8. Make sure any new computers, software or equipment you purchase or procure has written documentation certifying it to be free of Y2K bugs.

TECH CORPS Brings Much-Needed Business Partnerships To K-12 Schools

T.H.E. Journal, October 1998, p. 79

In a recent trend in educational reform, schools and businesses are being brought together to prepare students for a job market that is more technologically demanding.

Begun in 1995, TECH CORPS is a nonprofit group whose mission is to bring technologically skilled volunteers into the nation’s schools. State chapters of the organization coordinate action within those states. Volunteers provide training and mentoring of teachers as well as support services for managing and maintaining technology infrastructure.

The group also provides programs and workshops that include training tools, safety initiatives, and support systems. Partnerships among local community members and schools are a priority, as well.