As K-12 schools engage students in 21st-century learning, the emphasis on technology grows every year. The skills needed to prepare for the world extend beyond math, reading, and science into critical thinking, digital literacy, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Even as needs grow, budgets are often tight. Resources may need to go beyond district funding, and this is where technology grants for schools can play a critical role in advancing technology within the classroom.
But how can you obtain a technology grant? Where should you even begin?
The grant application process can require a lot of legwork but is worth the effort if you receive the grant. Knowing what resources are available and how to prepare will help you win technology grants. Let us guide you through it.
As you think about the grants that you may want for your technology project, you should begin by identifying specifics around your request. The grant application process is very competitive, and you want to ensure that your request is clear.
Think about how you would answer the following questions:
The last question about passion should be one of your primary focuses. You want funders to want to award you the grant. The proposal should exude enthusiasm along with articulating the scope and the details.
Finding the right grant for your school will require some research. You can start within your district and see if there is a grants expert or other local resources to help or use a grants database. There are many types of grants available.
Federal grants are from specific government agencies for a public purpose. Typically, these involve a lengthy application process and a lot of supporting documentation. Some of the grants will pay out over several years’ term, and the documentation requirements continue during that time.
Foundation grants are from non-profits or charitable trusts. Some foundation grants are for very specific purposes, as outlined by the foundation, while others provide a broad range of grants.
Like foundation grants, community grants are usually funded by non-profits, though they are within a local community and designated for local use.
Corporations have two different ways that they distribute grants. The corporation may have formed a non-profit arm that is responsible for grants and, in this instance, remains somewhat separate from the corporation. Or, the corporation may provide grants that are directly related to its products, such as providing a technology product for use within a school.
More commonly used by individuals and for smaller amounts, organizations such as DonorsChoose.org allow anyone to create projects and receive small donations made from site visitors.
In the past, technology grants for schools were for the purchase of technology, such as laptops or other devices. This has shifted and now includes a variety of requests to further enable collaboration and communication among staff and students. Examples of technology-related requests include:
If your school has a limited technology budget or your technology project falls outside of the budget, a grant may be the way to enhance the technology available within your school. Whether in the classroom, for the staff, or for after school programs, you will likely find a match for your needs.
Remember that technology grants are about broader student learning or the school as a whole, not just the technology.
After you have thoroughly outlined your technology project and find a potential grant that might fulfill your request, you will need to submit an application. Each funder will have specific requirements, so you will want to tailor your application and not submit identical requests to different funders. Remember, winning a grant is about finding a match between your project and the designated purpose of the grant’s funds.
The grant application process is extremely competitive. You will need to first contact the organization and express your interest.
Letter of Intent/Letter of Interest: For any government grants, you will submit a Letter of Intent or Letter of Interest. The letter will state that you intend to apply for the grant. Government agencies may not provide you with an acknowledgment of the letter, so you should continue to prepare your full proposal.
Letter of Inquiry: To private foundations or corporations, a Letter of Inquiry expresses interest in the grant and provides a brief overview of the proposal. The funding organization will then respond and invite you to submit the full proposal or decline to make such an offer. This is typically 2-3 pages and should follow a specific format.
Providing a clear request is key in submitting your full proposal to a funding organization. You will need to have all of your materials ready, including:
As you articulate the need for the grant, you will want to illustrate the nature of the problem and why the technology grant will solve that problem. Identify the gaps in other funding or services, and state very persuasively why your project is significant.
You will want to demonstrate that you understand the grant funder’s goals and that your project fits into those goals. Technology grants in schools do not exist in a vacuum, so you must show ample support from the school that the technology will be adopted. This includes administration support, as well as the intended students or staff that will benefit.
Before you submit your proposal, review the funding organization's requirements and make sure that you follow them exactly. You do not want your grant proposal to be declined simply for not following the requirements.
Once you have submitted your proposal, you will likely have very little insight into the decision-making process. Other than ensuring you have met the grant's requirements, the decision to award funds is usually based on a rubric or scoring that the grant committee has developed.
While you may not know the specifics, there are some common reasons that grant funders may decide against a particular proposal. Knowing these may help to correct your issues for future applications.
Your application was not a good match for the grant. Your purpose may be different from the way that the grant committee wants to disburse funds.
If your grant is turned down by one organization, keep trying. If you keep applying, you will eventually find the right match.
You do not show enough passion for the project. The grant funders need to be convinced that you will see the project through to the end.
Your proposal has budget problems. Your budget may exceed the amount available for the grant, does not have enough detail, or there is a mismatch between the activities/timeline and the budget.
Your proposal was not persuasive. You did not demonstrate the need for the grant or demonstrate that you have enough experience to complete the project.
Your proposal was hard to understand. You did not provide the relevant information, or the information provided was confusing.
For over 25 years, Premier Wireless has been delivering innovative solutions that enable safety and transformation through technology for schools, government agencies, and businesses of all types. Premier Wireless supports education through communication, distance learning, safety, and security.
The Premier Wireless Grants Support Program provides educational institutions with information regarding technology grants for schools, customized funder research, and consultation that will help develop project ideas, get technology-rich projects funded and even expand initiatives already in the works. For more information, contact us at (281) 667-0400.