Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tech it for Granted: Getting Started

Over the summer, I've decided to make a little change on Tech Tip Tuesdays. For the next five weeks, instead of Tech Tip Tuesdays, I'm going to run a special miniseries titled "Tech it for Granted". Since many of us are less busy during summer than the school year, it is a great time to get started on a grant!

One of the questions I often hear from teachers is how to get more technology in the classroom. Many teachers know that there are grants out there available to them, but they don't know how to go about finding, applying for, and securing those grants.

In this mini-series, I will review the grant process in five installments (please note, these links won't work until each installment is posted):

Getting Started 
There are a few things to do to get started on the grant process. Getting a grant can be a long and somewhat complicated process- but it is one that anyone can be successful with! If you are realistic, organized, and determined, you can secure grant funds to bring technology into your classroom. 

1. The idea- chicken or the egg?
Many people are unsure whether to start with an idea and search for relevant funding, or search for funding that their school is eligible for and then develop the idea. I think it is best to brainstorm a few ideas, and run those by others in your school to see what types of ideas you can garner support for on the school level. You can always start with one idea in mind, and then modify or completely change as you learn more in the process and find different types of funding. Also, begin thinking about a few things to help you find proper funding:
  • What is the need? (Look at some data!)
  • What do you hope to accomplish?
  • How will you measure the effect the grant has?

2. Get Approval
Different districts have different processes. In my district, I simply have to talk with my supervisor about any grant under $20k. For grants over that amount, I have to go through a district approval process. Also keep in mind that receiving government grants can reduce the amount of other federal funds your school or district might be able to receive. No matter what you do, sit down with your supervisor and discuss any ideas before you start seeking funding. Once you've found potential funding sources, sit down with your supervisor again before you start applying. 

3. Do Your Research
Once you've got an idea in mind, and the support of your supervisor, the next step is to start seeking funding sources. Be sure to look closely at any restrictions on what the grant will cover (some tech grants will cover software and apps but not equipment) and who is eligible for it. There's no need to waste time applying to grants that don't fit your needs or that you are ineligible for. This webmix contains links to several sites to help get you started, but be sure to do your own research as well!

4. Get Organized and Stay Focused
As you do research, make a list of the potential funding sources that meet your needs, along with notes about their eligibility requirements and application requirements- I created a google form for myself to fill out as I did research, which collected all the information into a handy spreadsheet for me. Also, be sure to put the application deadlines for each grant you're interested in into your calendar and set alerts for a month out, two weeks out, one week out, and one day out.

Congratulations, you've just made the first steps to getting your very own technology grant! Don't forget to come back next Tuesday for the second installment of Tech it for Granted: Writing Your Grant!

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