The nation’s most successful school fundraisers–educators who, based on past attendance, individually have raised an average of $3.6 million for school technology and are going for $7 million–are coming together in San Diego at the end of April. The occasion for the get-together is the Grants & Funding for School Technology (G&F) conference presented by eSchool News and co-sponsored by Teacher Universe.

If past attendance is a guide, some of the nation’s most effective school fundraisers will be meeting at San Diego’s Wyndham Emerald Plaza Hotel to swap strategies, mingle with leading grantgivers, and learn how to raise even more money for their schools’ technology programs.

According to research, educators who attended last year’s G&F conference have collectively raised $7 billion for schools. Roughly one-fourth of all attendees individually have raised a lifetime amount between $2 million and $10 million.

What these numbers show, according to Gregg W. Downey, editor and publisher of eSchool News and one of the organizers of the conference, is that school technology leaders who come to the event are a powerful group looking to take their fundraising efforts to an even higher level.

“They’ve done what they can with the resources at hand,” Downey said, “and it’s significant. Now it’s time to bring their skills–and their fundraising potential–to the next level. But not all school leaders know how to do that, which is where we come in.”

It’s in the network

The next step, Downey said, is to leverage even more dollars for school technology by meeting face-to-face with key players in foundations and to network with other successful fundraisers.

“They’ve got to get out there and meet the people who can make that happen–the grantsmakers themselves, and other successful school leaders,” Downey said. “And those are exactly the kind of speakers and attendees who will be at our conference.”

That’s why April’s G&F conference will feature school leaders who have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure, teacher training, and school networking projects. Some of those speakers will include:

• Dr. Gary Carnow, who has raised over $30 million in grants. Carnow, a former teacher, is the director of technology and information services for the Alhambra, Calif., School District and the moderator of Scholastic Network’s Grant Center.

• Peggy Meathenia, from the Lufkin, Texas, Independent School District, who raised more than $14 million for school technology in five years. While at a smaller school district in east Texas, she was able to take a $25,000 distance learning grant and parlay it into a $7 million project.

• Dr. Michael V. Gershowitz, who has written 150 winning proposals totaling $80 million, including 28 federal and state distance learning grants, 22 of which were funded. He also wrote one of the 19 Technology Innovation Challenge Grants that were funded in 1997, out of a field of 679 applications.

• Phillip Hibbert, the first African-American and the youngest person appointed to serve as Assistant Superintendent in the Cobb County, Ga., School District, credited with designing and building one of the largest educational networks of its kind–the Cobb Educational Network–funded at $40 million.

• Dr. Sandra Becker, whose district’s record of its technology implementation is included in the 1999 Permanent Research Collection of the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Innovation web site.

Conference attendees will also be able to network with key grantgivers in federal programs and corporate foundations.

Mike Haney from the National Science Foundation and Cheryl Garnette from the U.S. Department of Education will present sessions on funding initiatives–and offer insight into what their departments will be looking for in grant applications–for the coming school year.

Marilyn Reznick of The AT&T Foundation, C.J. Van Pelt from Cisco Systems Foundation, and Michele Cavataio from The AOL Foundation will discuss how schools can approach corporate partners to fund their school technology initiatives.

Conference attendees will also hear from JDL Technologies’ Allen Schmeider, vice president for K-12WORLD programs, who will present a session on how to land major federal technology funds. Dr. Schmeider played a key role in the implementation of the Technology Innovation Challenge Grants and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund. He also served as technology director for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

The conference receives support from Innovative Communications Inc., America Online, Sphere Communications, and 3Com, which is sponsoring the General Session on the eRate.