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Grants for Teachers
Judi Fenton

I don’t know any New York City public school teacher who would say that s/he has all of the materials, supplies, furniture, and resources necessary to run a classroom successfully. Unfortunately, it has become acceptable to expect our city and state to underfund what our students need to achieve success. Yes, we have Teacher’s Choice, but how many countless times have you heard, “You should use your Teacher’s Choice for that.”? And how many times have you answered that the $200 we receive to spend on our students was spent before school even started! So, we are required to either spend our own money to furnish our classrooms, ask parents for supplies, or find another way to fund our needs. The main “other” way is seeking a grant.

Before applying for any grants ask yourself these questions:

What do I need and is this grant the best way to get it?
Don’t write a grant just because it’s free money. Have a compelling reason to apply—Look specifically for grants that support what you want to do in your classroom or school. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with having to complete extra work that isn’t congruent with any of your goals for your students or your classroom. Implementing the grant will be a burden.

What does the RFP ask me to do?
Before you write, read the Request-For-Proposal (RFP) over carefully. Is this a grant that individual teachers can apply for or does it require a district to apply? What does the grantor want you to include? When is the deadline for sending it in? In other words, as we tell our students, make sure you follow the directions. If you don’t, the granting organization will eliminate you immediately.

Do I have the time to devote to implementing the grant if I do get it?
When you are a new teacher, time never seems to be on your side. Even if you have the time to write the grant, will you have time to satisfy the requirements of implementing it? Look closely at your time frame and figure out what else you’ll be required to do at implementation time. For example, if your students will be taking standardized tests and your school has a heavy test prep schedule, you might not want to apply for that grant to take your students camping for the week before the test.

Are there other teachers at my school who would be willing to work with me on applying for and implementing the grant?
It’s definitely more fun and more interesting to write grants with a friend. You’ll also end up with a better product. If you can find a colleague who has been successful obtaining grants, you’ll have it made!

The following are some places for you to start. But don’t stop here. Keep your eyes and ears open, ask colleagues for suggestions, and look for companies and organizations that might offer just what you need.

WWW.Donorschoose.org is a great site where teachers post their projects and funding needs and donors choose which project they want to fund. They even buy you the supplies when you are funded!

www.Schoolgrants.org is a wonderful on-line resource for teachers, offering lists of current grants, tips for writing grants, sample proposals, and support services.

At www.Teachersnetwork.org (you're here right now!) you can download information and applications for Impact II grants. You can be recognized and funded for a successful unit you've taught or you can adapt somebody else's successful project for use with your own students.

Teacher newspapers often have sections that give funding opportunities and deadlines. New York Teacher, our UFT newspaper, has a great column about grant offerings. Teacher magazine’s Calendar section gives application deadlines and contacts for national grants and fellowships.

Many companies have philanthropic foundations. Go to their websites and see what their funding priorities are. Many of them offer programs for students or schools. Some offer their employees as tutors or volunteers. Some companies adopt a school. Look on the web and see what you find! Good luck!


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