A reader who works for a private school recently sent me an eMail message asking for some grant-seeking advice. Her query highlighted the challenge that private schools face in finding grants, as many funders (both public and private) will consider only public-school applications. There are grants available for private education, however, and here are some ways to find them.
1. Check the web site of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Non-Public Education, where you’ll find information regarding federal education laws and programs that affect private education, as well as federal grants and resources that are available to private schools. There is also information about No Child Left Behind and how non-public schools can benefit from some of the funding the law makes available.
2. If you work at a private school that is faith-based, check the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. There, you’ll find information about funding from the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies. There are also tips on writing and submitting grant proposals.
3. If you work at a private school that is affiliated with a specific religious denomination, check to see if there are any grants available from the denomination itself–either locally or nationally. For example, if you’re a teacher or administrator at a parochial Catholic institution, be sure to look at the Catholic Funding Directory, which is published by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. This directory lists foundations, by state, that fund Catholic activities, and some of them include Catholic education as an area of interest.
4. Conduct a search of foundations using “private education” as a descriptor. You can search the Foundation Center database at your local Foundation Center library, or you can subscribe to an online database, such as Foundation Search, to come up with a list of foundations that will consider requests from private schools.
5. Check with your alumni, members of your school board, and the parents of students enrolled in your school to see if they have a family foundation that supports education, or a corporate foundation if they own their own business. These foundations might not be sources of large amounts of money, and they might not appear in foundation databases. But they still should be on your radar screen if you are identifying possible sources of funding for projects. You might be able to combine requests from several of these types of foundations to fund your project.
6. Check with your alumni, parents, and school board members to see if there are any corporate connections that might lead to in-kind contributions, or reduced costs when purchasing items.
7. Create and maintain collaborative relationships with other entities that can be the lead agency for a grant application. These can include your local school district, a library, a museum, or a community-based agency–the list is endless. (Check the funding guidelines carefully to make sure you are an eligible partner for services and/or funding through the program. If there are any questions about eligibility, contact the program officer to ask.) Regularly communicate the needs of your students and teachers to potential partners, and brainstorm ideas for projects together.
Deborah Ward, CFRE, is an independent grant writing consultant. She welcomes questions at Debor21727@aol.com.