I recently held a question-and-answer session with eSchool News readers via Twitter—and the No. 1 question that kept coming up was, “Where can I find a grant for _______?”
Because this seems to be such a popular topic, I’ve decided to devote my next two columns to finding grant opportunities. Why two columns, you might ask? Because, depending on the type of grants you’re looking for, there are several different resources you can use to find this information.
There are two main groups you can turn to for grant support: public funders and private funders. Government grant sources fall under the umbrella of public funders and include federal departments and agencies (such as the U.S. Education Department, or ED), as well as state agencies. For private funders, you can look to foundations, corporations, and national organizations for potential grant opportunities.
Looking at private funders might offer more grant opportunities than restricting your search to public funders. But there are many other benefits to pursuing private funders, too.
Usually, private funders offer more proposal deadlines during a 12-month period than public funders, which typically will have only one grant cycle per year for each program. Private funders also might have a simpler application process, although there are exceptions to this general rule. In addition, the decision-making process typically takes less time for private funders than it does for public funders. With a private funder, for instance, you might find out within a month or two if your request has been funded—whereas for public funders, this process might take between six and nine months. And finally, the reporting requirements for privately funded grants typically aren’t as complex as those for public funders—but again, there can be exceptions.
To begin the grant-seeking process, you should have a project idea in mind that is more specific than “I need a grant for technology.” Typing “grants for education” into a search engine will return a glut of web sites that you’d then need to pore through until you find opportunities you’re eligible for and that match the project you want to implement. Instead of looking for grants using general search terms, try using more specific terms, such as “grants for math programs for elementary students” or “grants for reading programs for elementary students.”
Where can you look for grant opportunities from public funders in particular? The most obvious place to start is ED’s web site, www.ed.gov. On the department’s home page, you’ll find a “Funding” tab; click there, and you’ll find numerous programs listed under a link called “Discretionary grant opportunities.”
This page lists all of the grant competitions from ED that are currently open. One challenge is that these competitions generally are announced only four to eight weeks before the deadline, so you’ll need to check back frequently for new opportunities.
To help you plan your grant-seeking efforts more effectively, you can also go to ED’s Funding Forecast page to look for anticipated grant competitions organized by specific offices within the department. This page gives grant seekers a “heads up” as to when competitions are expected to be announced during the next three to six months, and it offers a variety of information about each program.
Don’t forget to explore grant opportunities from other federal agencies, too. The National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Commerce Department, and Agriculture Department all offer grants for education technology, such as the Agriculture Department’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants and loans.
Grant seekers also can follow the latest federal funding opportunities in the Federal Register, where the details for each grant program are outlined as competitions are announced. And if you have the Catalog of Federal and Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for a particular grant program you’re interested in—it’s typically five digits long, and all of the grants for education begin with “84”—you can go to the CFDA web site, www.cfda.gov, type in the number, and receive details about the program in question.
Finding state grants for education might be a little tricky. I’ve found that some states tend to bury their grant opportunities several pages deep on their web sites, while others have a “Grants” or “Funding” tab that is clearly visible on the state education department’s home page. If you haven’t looked for grants from your state education department and cannot find information about these opportunities, I’d recommend asking a colleague at another district or asking state officials directly. If it’s an elusive site to find, make sure you bookmark it for future reference!
Next month, I’ll discuss resources to help you find grants from private funders.
(Editor’s note: To read the full exchange between Deborah Ward and eSchool News readers on Twitter, as well as follow other breaking ed-tech developments in real time, go to www.twitter.com/eSchoolNews. For $35 per year, you can also receive our Grants & Funding ALERT electronic newsletter, which delivers the latest federal and private grant listings to your eMail in-box twice a month; to sign up, click here.)
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