Four years ago, educators in Butler County, Ohio were facing a crisis. They wanted to implement modern curriculum and teacher training in schools across the county in order to re-engage students and prepare them for the rapidly changing job market. But, like in many other regions, Butler County’s resources were scarce. Before the educators could even think about making a change, they got stuck on one question: “Can we afford this?”
In their moment of doubt, they were able to turn the way they were thinking about funding inside out. They flipped the question from, “Can we afford this?” to, “Which organization can fund this?” It was not a matter of whether or not the funds were available, but a matter of who could provide the funds. This shift in thinking set them free!
The Butler County Educational Service Center put together a grant proposal for Ohio’s Straight A Fund. And . . . voila! A new curriculum aimed at impacting 3,028 students from grades 7 to 12, was implemented in Butler County’s classrooms. Students across the region were:
- designing games for their programming course
- writing stories for a screenwriting course
- building digital portfolios to showcase their projects
You too can find creative ways to pay for curriculum or professional development. And once you recognize there is plenty of available funding out there, you can think less about the price tag and more about the number of students a program would impact or how fun a PD experience would be.
Whether you are a teacher or a school leader, tons of grant programs are available to you—and made specifically for you.
Resources for Finding Grant Programs
- GetEdFunding: Helps you find the grant program that fits your needs
- The Journal – Grants: Curates a list of education grants, updated weekly
Grant Programs for School Leaders
- Entertainment Software Association Foundation: Funds creative, often game-based learning programs and technology
- General Motors Giving Back: Funds STEM initiatives
- Google CS4HS: Funds computer science PD for high school teachers
Grant Programs for Teachers
- The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning: Awards outstanding teachers of blended and online learning with funding
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Funds PD for math teachers
You can get even more creative when it comes to finding funding. One way is looking to local companies for support. For example, you might send a funding proposal to a local technology company, and ask them to sponsor your school’s computer science PD. For decades, schools have fostered successful partnerships with local businesses:
“Since 1990, the Lees Summit (Mo.) School District has worked with 250 local business partners, including corporations that send experts to the high school’s marketing classes and local banks that deploy volunteers to help teach math in elementary classrooms. For even longer, the Anchorage (Alaska) Public Schools has cultivated relationships with 500 local businesses and organizations, which do everything from providing mentors to funding school projects.” (District Administration, 2012 via EdSurge, 2016.)
If you are writing a grant proposal or business partner proposal from scratch, here are some foundational questions to start with (adapted from the CS4HS Google Grant Questions):
- What kinds of organizations, local offices of education, etc. are you working with or planning to work with in developing and implementing this opportunity?
- What are up to five learning objectives your opportunity will achieve?
- What is the learning format and agenda?
- How is the content relevant to computer science?
- How will you make sure concepts are taught effectively in the classroom? (You may want to include a quotation from a teacher who has taken the PD course or used the curriculum before.)
- How will you measure success?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your expenses?
- How much funding are you requesting?
This post is part of a blog series in support of our new professional development opportunity, the Computer Science and Game Design Certificate, co-developed with the Computer Science Teachers Association. For more on the intersection of computer science and professional development, read the previous posts in the series:
- Make Computer Science Part of Your Professional Learning
- Why Game Design Is an Awesome Introduction to Computer Science