Where to Find Money for Your School’s Edtech Purchases

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Paying for technology shouldn’t have to come solely out of a school or district’s already-strapped budget.

For some districts, the best way to attain massive amounts of money to pay for edtech purchases or initiatives is through bonds. Take Milpitas Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area, which proposed a bond measure to pay for technology remodeling school spaces back in 2012. It eventually passed—a total of $95 million.

But for others, the pecuniary need may be more immediate—replacing a group of iPads that got broken, for example. Or, perhaps it’s not a $95 million bond that a district wants, but rather, small grants to indulge a teacher who wants to bring more equipment into the science lab.

There is a seemingly endless collection of online tools to address this problem, but for those who don’t know where to begin, here is a small collection of resources to kickstart the search for money—as well as any pertinent deadlines.

Grants to Fund Small Teacher-Led Edtech Initiatives (<$10,000)

Sometimes, teachers ask for a little bit of funding to do something tech-related in their classroom. And for those who wish to crowdfund money from their own contacts and communities, there are sites like DonorsChooseClass Wish and Adopt-a-Classroom, where individual educators can post their needs and solicit funds. One edtech-specific site, Digital Wish, is a more tech-focused version of Class Wish—and don’t get fooled by the website’s 90s-like appearance. There’s money to be found on that site.

But sites like DonorsChoose and Digital Wish are only where the money train begins. For educators looking for small sums of money, the following websites are worth checking out.

For any teacher: The McCarthey-Dressman Foundation has Teacher Development Grants worth up to $10,000 a year for teachers who wish to try implementing “groundbreaking K-12 classroom instruction” initiatives, which can include technology. Educators can apply between January 15 and April 15, 2017.

For any teacher: The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning has a grant program that will open up in April of 2017. Here are the details from last year. Essentially, teacher applicants who work for “an accredited blended or online program in the United States” and demonstrate growth they’ve made in a particular area (last year, English language learning and remedial math strategies were amongst the most coveted applications) can be rewarded with small grants of funding to further their instruction and edtech implementation.

For science and math teachers: Toshiba America Foundation has grants worth up to $5,000 apiece for teachers who are “passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students.” According to the website, the foundation accepts applications forgrades six through 12 year-round. Grant applications are due February 1 and August 1, annually.

For math teachers: The Isabelle P. Rucker Fund and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) award grants up to $3,000 annually. Called “Enhancing Student Learning through the Use of Tools and Technology Grants,” the awards are given to any educator who “integrates the use of mathematical tools and technology as essential resources” in the math classroom. There’s one caveat: applicants must be current NCTM members or teach at a school that has a NCTM school membership. Applications are due May 5, 2017.

Big Money from the Big Guys ($10,000+)

If the monetary need is larger—perhaps something schoolwide—foundations are potential sources of support. For example, the Entertainment Software Association Foundation has a program (application from last year here) that opens up in 2017 for schools and districts looking to fund technology, including computer and video games, for students between the ages of seven and 18. Grants extend upward of $50,000.

Likewise, the Corning Incorporated Foundation gives away 136 grants totaling about $3 million towards instructional technology in the classroom. Corning specifically supports programs in the communities where the corporation has a presence, including North Carolina, Arizona and Texas.

If you’d rather work with a corporation, consider applying for an award from the likes of the Sony Corporation of America, which gives away funding to various academic institutions throughout the year. Some districts make the jump to launch partnerships with high-tech private organizations like Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel, where districts agree to pilot certain products in exchange for free access to infrastructure and software.

I Just Want Devices (Value Varies)

For schools and districts looking to acquire devices above all else, two initiatives come to mind.

First, the U.S. General Services Administration provides the Computers For Learning program, and applicants can submit on a rolling deadline. Any school—public, private or parochial, serving Pre-K through 12th grade students—is eligible to receive device donations (and other relevant equipment) through the program.

Additionally, the Computers Recycling Center (Computers and Education) provides refurbished devices to “qualified programs serving the community with social justice and public benefit programs.” While shipping costs for delivery are not provided by CRC, the organization does make sure that all devices have passed through a quality control inspection.

And That’s Not All...

This article only skims the surface of sources of funding for any teacher, administrator or school’s education technology needs. Luckily, there are sites out there for continuing the search. GetEdFunding, provided by CDW-G, provides a database for hundreds of educational grants, and includes a “deadline alerts” feature. The U.S. Office of Education Technology also has a page on funding digital learning and connectivity, with information about local and state funding.

The funding stream certainly doesn’t run dry, if one looks hard enough. But don’t wait! While many of the aforementioned deadlines are rolling or don’t close until the spring, it’s never too early to get a start on applying for funds. 

Mary Jo Madda (@MJMadda) is Senior Editor at EdSurge, as well as a former STEM middle school teacher and administrator. In 2016, Mary Jo was named to the Forbes "30 Under 30" list in education.

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