After sending a notice to our staff about an upcoming grant opportunity, I’ve been fielding questions from staff members seeking assistance and budgetary numbers for their potential grant application. Here’s a few tips for writing a classroom technology grant.
#1) Don’t tell them about the “stuff” you want… tell them about what you want students to be able to do.
Describing your project and it’s objective is ALWAYS more important that the technology. Sell them on the project and its outcomes for students before you even hint at what technology you are requesting.
#2) Seek out a collaborator.
Imagine if you were reviewing two final grant applications – one is for a single classroom project and the other is for a classroom that is going to collaborate with another classroom in another location. Easy decision… the classroom that is actually collaborating with other classrooms and/or outside resources gets the nod.
#3) Don’t ask for every penny they have.
Be realistic on your grant request, the application might say that $50,000 is available… but don’t ask for all of it or even a high percentage. For the $50,000 Century Link grant, we’d recommend something in the $2,000 to $5,000, with the higher range being reserved for more collaborative projects that involve more classrooms.
#4) Don’t list specific technology models
Unless the grant requires very specific model numbers, I wouldn’t recommend doing it. Go ahead and describe your project and tell them you need an iPad…. just don’t tell them that you must have the white colored 64Gb iPad2 with Verizon 3G. It sounds like you’re a little kid, building a Christmas list. Don’t do it.
#5) Don’t buy equipment for the purpose of general checkout.
If your goal is to buy a cart of laptops/iPads for your school for general checkout, I would encourage you to look for another funding source. I’m not aware of any classroom technology grants that target equipment for general checkout purposes.
#6) Don’t buy something for everyone
Another common mistake is to list a goal and then state that every teacher/classroom in your building needs equipment. Most classroom grants are looking for innovation… not schools that are looking for full deployments.
#7) Unless the grant goal is for 1:1, this is also off limits
It might be your goal or interest, but most classroom grants are not designed to seed 1:1 models, where each student receives equipment. In most cases, they aren’t looking for a classroom set either.
#8) Check out the previous winners
Ask for and review a list of previous winners. Look for patterns in the awards, such as types of projects, grade levels awarded, do they select predominately rural or urban schools?
#9) Be sure to match the grant goals
All too often, we start dreaming of the technology we want. Instead, start with the grant goals. Do any of the goals relate to an existing project or unit that you currently have? Perhaps you could expand an existing project/unit to bring in collaboration with with other classes, schools, or communities?
#10) Get it reviewed before you write
If you want to save yourself time – ask others to help review your idea BEFORE you start writing the formal application. This enables you to flush out the entire idea and ensure that it matches with the grant goals before you spend significant time on the application details.