The secret to getting grants is either finding the right grant for the right project or creating a project that matches a grant. It’s not as easy as needing devices for your students and finding a grant to get them. Well, at least that has not been my experience. If you are lucky, you will find a grant that allows you to purchase what you need for your students. I’ve been writing grants for years and have been really successful at getting grants. I’ve gotten at least one grant, sometimes more, every year for the past 17 years straight! And that doesn’t include two grants I got before that (one my second year teaching and another my fourth year teaching).
I’ve written grant proposals for using technology with students, for connecting students to other students, for starting a school newspaper, for staff PD, for staff social networking, and other projects. My most successful grant proposal project has by far been my Environmental Stewardship project. That one project alone has gotten a lot of money. It’s a great project because there are some really good environmental grant opportunities out there.
I recently wrote a proposal to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) to get the necessary equipment for my Environmental Stewardship project. Now here’s an example of grants not allowing for everything you ask for or for everything you want. To collect water quality data on our creek we use Vernier probes, such as dissolved oxygen, with the handheld sensor interface device called a LabQuest. The newer LabQuest devices use Wifi and data can be sent to other devices like an iPad. On the iPad students can use the data to graph and analyze as well as to share on blogs, websites, or wikis. So I put together a budget for purchasing one LabQuest, one dissolved oxygen probe, one pH probe, and an iPad Mini. All those totaled $1,000, which was the grant limit. The project met their requirements and they not only liked it, they chose it! They only gave me $750 though because the foundation does not give monies to purchase devices such as iPads.
The only unfortunate thing is that the LabQuest and probes can only be used for the stewardship project whereas the iPad would have been used by students all year round. I’m very grateful to be able to purchase more water quality testing devices to engage more students so I’m extremely happy to get the grant but this is a great example that just writing grants to get technology is not very easy and doesn’t always work.