• Finding Educational Funds/Grants/Support


         I attended an excellent conference session presented by Angela Fox from the Indiana State Library. As a grants administrator (among other capacities), she had several tips and insights from her time at ISL. Some can apply to schools seeking funding for things such as PD. The majority of donations/grants received were for small amounts from community foundations, businesses, and fraternal organizations. While your most common sources of PD funds is probably Title II, Title IV, and district money, there are outside resources available that you may have not considered who are open to making donations.


        Receiving support does not necessarily involve completing a multiple-page grant application. Some simply involve writing a letter including specifics of how students will benefit from any funding. In the case of professional learning, it could be, “We will be attending sessions to learn about the new career paths for graduation,” “We are examining our offerings to boost students’ social emotional learning,” We will be learning from districts that have made significant gains in their reading scores,” etc.


        Several corporations and foundations showed up numerous times in the list of all library grants/donations received last year. These include: Lowes, the Dekko Foundation (six specific counties), AT&T, Verizon, Duke Energy, Tri Kappa, Dollar General (related to literacy), Wal-Mart (often gives $1000 donations; inquire at local store). Other frequent donors included banks, realtors, and insurance agencies, plus the traditional service organizations. Sometimes, a simple request and details on letterhead will suffice. If these will not work for professional learning funds, perhaps they will for other activities at your school. Sometimes these entities will consider a sponsorship with their name on a program or a PA announcement. You can also look up Indiana Community Foundations, a growing source of grants.


        The Indiana Youth Institute offers PD grants for individuals; these are traditionally given for events that are definitely student-focused. (For example, I applied for ISTE, but was told that technology was not one of their primary goals.) Our conference, however, with many threads devoted to student well-being, would be more in line.


        Some writing tips, especially for more detailed submissions:  Make your title memorable; in some cases, semicolons are your friend! The opening paragraph may be the key, as decisions are often made by the time the reader has finished it. Your description should be memorable, and create a mental picture of what will happen… with students in the picture. Convey active engagement, portray the results of the donation as a solution to a problem, and show that this program could meet a genuine need of your students. Many organizations want to help, but are not sure how to get involved, or are afraid that what they can offer will not make enough of a difference. Be sure to send a thank you note to any groups that give you donations of money or items; better yet, have the students write the note, and post on social media if applicable (perhaps a photo of students deriving the benefits of the gift.)


    IMLEA Board members have shared these additional suggestions:

    • Purdue often supports programs in schools. For a financial literacy program, they helped Rochester Community Schools connect with a local partner. This even included sub pay. They worked with J. W. Fansler at Purdue, who is the Assistant Director of the Indiana Council for Economic Education (ICEE).

    • If you have a Meijer in your community, they often give gift cards for specific requests.

    • Reach out to parents, who may have connections to local businesses (in some cases, they may be the owners).

    • Don’t give up! One car dealership was approached to be a sponsor several times; when management changed, they were asked a fourth time, and now donate everytime someone mentions their organization and takes a test drive.

    • Indiana Humanities has frequent grant opportunities, in addition to offering visiting author programs, and are doing more and more with schools. For example, in the 2016-18 school years, several schools received author visits, “Quantum Leap” grants to support STEM, and resources for their Frankenstein initiative.

    • Toyota gives grants twice a year in nine Indiana counties

    • American Honda Foundation gives large grants that relate primarily to STEM. Only one application per district is allowed each year.

    Do you have some grant or donation success stories? Please share them with us, and they will be added to this page!