DIY: How to Find Local Grants

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How to Find Local Grants for Teachers

The beginning of any large project can be a daunting task, especially a project that could ultimately earn your school a large amount of money – if done correctly. Even the initial stages of the grant application process can be overwhelming! This early anxiety about the research stage can be summed up by one all too common question among teachers interested in grant writing: Where can I find a grantor who would want to support my students? For many teachers nationwide, this question can usually be answered locally! It is most often the case that your school district or city has an education foundation or community foundation of some sort. 

What is a Local Education Foundation?

It is always surprising to me as a grant writer when I hear from veteran teachers that they truly had no idea that their school district has a local education foundation. Interestingly enough, most do! Local education foundations are a great start to providing your students with the materials and resources they need to excel. And, the great news is that these types of grantors are typically not competitive. It is usually their sole purpose to support local teachers and programs that engage students in innovative ways that the normal curriculum cannot. In the same vein, local education foundations also provide new grant writers low-stakes application practice, and administrators are usually supportive of the effort. Furthermore, the deadlines for local grants can be flexible (depending on the grant) and are usually ongoing annually or run through the school year. This gives many teachers who have taken up the extra title of ‘grant writer’ for their school the time they need to craft a proposal (and continue managing their own classroom responsibilities!) Finding these local foundations and grants is actually quite easy.

Start with a Simple Google Search

Your local education foundation most likely shares its name with your county, so searching the name of your county and adding “Education Foundation” or “Community Foundation” or “Public Schools Foundation” will usually do the trick (for example, “Community Foundation of Muskegon County”). Sometimes the foundation will share its name with your city (for example, “Stafford Education Foundation”). Sometimes it will even share the name of your school (for example, “Greeneville Schools Education Foundation) or a larger region of your state (for example, “Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts”). If you’re having difficulties finding a local educational or community foundation near you, a change of keywords might be all you need!

Reach Out to the Foundation

As a grant writer who prioritizes getting materials into teacher’s classrooms as soon as possible, it is best to seek out these foundations and first build a connection with its members. By doing this, you learn how much money can be awarded and when the deadlines are. This information – though extremely useful – is often not listed on the foundation’s website, making direct calls and emails all the more important. 

Many smaller foundations also fail to consistently update their website. You might see grant awards for teachers from 2005 to 2016 but nothing after. That does not mean that grants are not being awarded. Get in touch with a member of the foundation early on to ensure that grants are being provided and that you don’t waste your time crafting a narrative for a grant that doesn’t exist. Usually, a contact name or general email is provided at the bottom of the homepage. 

A New Reality

It seems, however, that due to COVID-19, many local education foundations have halted their typical grant cycles and giving opportunities. Some foundations are pushing all of their money to combat COVID-19 — a noble and necessary cause. But, in turn, this can create some headaches for teachers who want to continue to strengthen their student’s math and literacy skills. Don’t let this possibility turn you away from looking into local foundations, though! Chances are they might still be up and running or willing to accept a proposal under the present circumstances. Regardless, it is always in your best interest to reach out to the foundation and ask. The mental, emotional, and physical health of our students is currently being threatened by a global pandemic, but that shouldn’t stop us from providing them with the best education possible and the best opportunities to strengthen their resilience. 

Grants to teachers of all grade levels are still being offered. All it takes to find them is some well-informed sleuthing. Chances are that money is right in your neck of the woods.

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