Helping schools find money for school improvement is the mission of Turning Technologies' Turning Foundation.

Services that help school leaders apply for e-Rate discounts, foster schoolwide improvement, and find other sources of funding were among the highlights from Feb. 2011 ed-tech conference exhibitors.

College Coach offers educational consulting to families nationwide. Its staff—former senior admissions officers from some of the nation’s top colleges—guide students through the complicated college admissions process and help them create powerful and lasting impressions, College Coach says.

eRate Online, an e-Rate consulting firm, discussed how its experts can manage various aspects of the federal e-Rate program from start to finish. The firm has worked with the program since its introduction in 1997 and aims to simplify the funding process. “You provide the data, we handle the rest,” says the firm.

NCTAF, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, announced Learning Studios to help low-income students succeed in college, careers, and community affairs through high-impact community engagement, more effective teaching, and deeper learning. Learning Studios aims to help teachers and students tackle challenges that are central to the Smithsonian Institution’s four grand challenges: understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet, unlocking the mysteries of the universe, valuing world cultures, and understanding the American experience. NCTAF first announced its first Learning Studios in partnership with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to build pathways to college and career success for low-income youth, young women, and students of color.

The School Improvement Network promoted its upcoming PD360 User Conference, July 11-13, 2011, in Salt Lake City. Attendees will learn how to use professional development as a key instrument to improve student, teacher, school, and district performance.

The Success for All Foundation, which boasts a mission to develop and disseminate research-proven educational programs, discussed its school-wide improvement approach, which it says is proven to increase reading achievement in grades K-6. The program includes lessons, curriculum for partner and team discussions, consultants for staff training, and ongoing support. One part of the program, called KinderCorner, helps children to read by the end of kindergarten. All progress in the program is tracked using online data tools, and students are grouped according to their reading levels and accelerated as their reading improves. Struggling students also receive computer-assisted tutoring to help them catch up quickly. The program engages parents and addresses attendance, behavior, and health problems that can interfere with progress. For more information, contact sfainfo@successforall.org.

Turning Technologies highlighted the work of its Turning Foundation, which helps school districts find money for technology and school improvement projects. Through its foundation, the company offers free consulting services to its customers and prospective customers. “It’s about building relationships, not selling widgets,” said foundation Director John Wilson.

USAC, the Universal Service Administrative Company—a not-for-profit corporation that administers the federal e-Rate program—discussed its Helping Applicants To Succeed (HATS) program. This outreach initiative contacts participants who have faced challenges with the e-Rate and provides targeted, on-site training to help them become more successful in the future. A HATS specialist will customize the outreach provided during the customer’s visit and review his or her history with the e-Rate program to determine the program areas where assistance would be most helpful. Limited or no advance preparation is required. To learn more, visit http://usac.org/sl/about/hats-outreach.

Walden University helped conference attendees learn more about its Doctorate of Education program, with specializations in administrator leadership for teaching and learning, higher education and adult learning, and teacher leadership.