If you've been writing grants for your school district for a while, you may have become tapped to write all grants for the district (the theory that if you raise your hand once, people will continue to call on you: the Neva Principle).
This may be a good career move for you. When you retire you can become a blogger or consultant to school districts who haven't found anyone to whom they can apply the Neva Principle. This means you get to write the federal and state pass-through grants to which your district is entitled by law. These grants include Title I, Title IIA (Educator Quality), SPED 240, Title III (LEP Programs) and so forth.
Today I'll talk about five ways you can move through the Title I grant writing process without losing your mind. These are actually rules, so pay attention.
The regulations around Title I fill two enormous binders in my office. Despite having a close relationship with Title I for many years, I confess I have not read everything in there. Some of the rules are critically important (the ones I talk about here), the others less so. But don't be caught breaking any of them, your state representative will come to your school and make you personally responsible for everything that is wrong in the world. They are serious people who take Title I very seriously; and rightly so.
The rules I have in mind that are firmly emblazoned are:
- The funds are predetermined for your district; they are in stone, and must be applied only to the needs of raising the academic achievement of the poorest and most vulnerable children in your district. The funds were created for this purpose in the first place. The minute you start looking for ways to spend your Title I funds on a new playground, you know you are in very dangerous territory.
- They are not intended for hiring personnel, although you may do so if the people are being hired to work solely with the poorest and most vulnerable children in your district and you can prove it. This might include a Title I Reading Teacher, someone who works with carefully selected children in a separate location to address academic achievement gaps in reading scores for identified children. This is completely acceptable. Don't, however, try to reverse engineer this to fit the grant. This needs to be a true reflection of a separate concern for the welfare of the identified group, and not a way to rearrange the deck chairs.
- You may not use Title I funds to pay for grant writing assistance or fund raising. That's why your superintendent has asked you to do it. If you are writing Title I grants and your salary is being subsidized by Title I, you must keep a journal documenting the time you spend on the administration of Title I activities. Only then can you be paid by Title I (up to about 50% of your salary). This 50% cannot include health benefits or any other perks of your job.
- You may not use Title I funds for construction costs of any kind; no buildings, annexes, plumbing, wiring or other building maintenance costs will be allowed.
- If you're trying to sneak a trip into the Title I grant, it must be a trip whose sole purpose is to increase your district's capacity to raise the academic achievement of the poorest and most vulnerable children in your area—and they mean it. Not allowed are meals, drinks, tips, merry-go-round rides or anything resembling any kind of fun.
You will need help applying for and adhering to rules about Title I funds. Make sure you know who your Title I liaison is at your State Department. of Education. They are your friend; love them, nurture them and go see them.
There are other unallowed costs for Title I. I'll provide a list of resources so you can sort them out:
- Fort Worth Schools - Nice description of what is and is not allowed.
- The U.S. Government Title I page - Emphasizes the goal of improving academic achievement for the poorest and most vulnerable.
- E.S.E.A. - Elementary and Secondary Education Act
- Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
- FAQ's about Title I Programs - North Dakota (the Dakotas have awesome state education websites)
I provide all of this information as a place to start. If you've been chosen to write and administer the Title I programs in your school district, it's an honor. And, as honors often go, it is a great responsibility.
Let me know your stories. I'd love to share them with everyone.
Current Grant Opportunities
Safe Places to Play from the US Soccer Foundation - The US Soccer Foundation awards grants to support soccer programs and field-building initiatives nationwide. Grants are provided to support all aspects of the beautiful game – from assisting programs with operational costs to creating Safe Places to Play. Safe Places to Play grants are available in four categories: Synthetic Turf, Lighting, Irrigation, and Sport Court. Multi-sport field projects are eligible for funding, but such fields must be used a majority of the time for soccer. Multi-field projects are also eligible.
States: All States
Average Amount: $4,000.00 - $50,000.00
Address: 1211 Connecticut Ave, NW, Ste 500, Washington, DC 20036
Website: U.S. Soccer Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Other
Program Areas: Facilities/Maintenance, Health/PE
Foundation Grants from the Esther B. Kahn Charitable Foundation - The Foundation's purpose is to support and fund innovative approaches to education, the arts and medical research. The Foundation generally supports projects where the grant will make a significant difference and where the desired result will be tangible, lasting and can be accomplished within a reasonable period of time. Nevertheless, the Foundation seeks to encourage innovation and recognizes that this may involve risk.
States: All States
Average Amount: $2,500.00 - $25,000.00
Total Amount: $100,000.00 - $250,000.00
Address: c/o Choate, Hall & Stewart, LLP, Two International Place, Boston, MA 02110-4101
Website: Esther B. Kahn Charitable Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Program Areas: After-School, Arts, Early Childhood, ESL/Bilingual/Foreign Language, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)