By Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS
Before I begin talking about George Lucas, my top tip today for grants success is:
I’ve been using the Edutopia website for a long time; there are lesson plans, blogs, news for teachers, ideas, and stories about educational adventures all over the country. What I didn’t know, until recently, was that it is a project funded by George Lucas, the movie producer who brought us Star Wars and that great movie magic factory Industrial Light and Magic. George Lucas’ net worth is estimated to be about 5.1 billion dollars, so he can afford to indulge his great passion: education.
Benefits and assistance for schools can come in many packages. Grants are great, an infusion of cash targeted to specific needs you’ve identified using the information you have on hand. Philanthropy from the George Lucas Foundation comes in a different wrapper. Not a grant making organization, the Edutopia website has provided teachers with quality lesson plans, resources, networking avenues, and subject specific curriculum help.
There’s a grants section that provides lists of rolling grant opportunities, such as their Technology grants list. Like the MySchoolGrant database, grant information is kept up to date and current. George Lucas also sponsors educational research, currently focused on project-based learning. It supports research to find evidence to validate what works in education.
So why do I mention a non-grants giving resource? Sometimes, an issue does not need to have money thrown at it. Sometimes, we need to step back and look at a problem from a community and professional development angle. When data is discovered that reveals the third grade is lagging in math, do we really need to reinvent the wheel and spend thousands of dollars on a new curriculum or textbook? Or can it be solved by working with district leaders to incorporate third grade math instructional strategies in existing professional development budgets? In its one-stop shopping approach, Edutopia gives you resources to help you make great PD decisions for your school.
Before I rush to a grant opportunity, I have learned to scour the district for existing resources to help teachers solve problems in my school. Not only do I often hit paydirt, but it also exposes me to other teachers and the great ideas we are all generating. It never ceases to amaze me how resourceful and creative teachers can be. Pursuing a grant may be like hitting an ant with a sledgehammer, not to mention using time and hard work that is unnecessary.
There are other sources of funds for your schools too. Small or big fundraisers can be surprisingly effective at raising enough cash for your immediate needs. If you know of an individual teacher who has a project she’s just burning to try, but she needs a few hundred dollars to get started, be sure to let her know about Donorschoose.org, a spectacularly successful clearinghouse of fund raising connections for schools and teachers
And don’t forget the chocolate sales and bake sales, and above all, your PTA. These folks are energizer bunnies who often just wait in the wings for instructions on how they can help. So, if time is of the essence, you are probably better served coming up with some quick fund raising ideas.
Let us know about your fund raising activities, I’ll share them with our readers!
Current Grant Opportunities
Mission Statement Help meet the needs of American society in the areas of youth and scientific education by awarding grants to nonprofits (501(c)3 – your school may have its own non-profit, or team up with one in your community like the Y, etc), while strategically assisting communities in deriving long-term benefits. Guidelines The American Honda Foundation engages in grant making that reflects the basic tenets, beliefs and philosophies of Honda companies, which are characterized by the following qualities: imaginative, creative, youthful, forward-thinking, scientific, humanistic and innovative. We support youth education with a specific focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in addition to the environment. Funding Priority: Youth education, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the environment, job training and literacy.
Website: American Honda Foundation
Low Range of Grant: $20,000
Deadline: August 1, November 1
The CHS Foundation grants up to $1,000 to innovative academic and leadership programs that strengthen student learning and enhance professional development. Examples include: leadership training opportunities, mentorship programs, professional development experiences and student fundraising efforts.
States: All States
Average Amount: $1,000.00
Address: 5500 Cenex Drive, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55077
Website: CHS Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education
Program Areas: Professional Development, Science/Environmental, Vocational