In our charter school, we typically don’t use grants as our need is more immediate. We have been using Donors Choose with great success to acquire the materials we need. In the past year, I have successfully had Chromebooks funded, video equipment for a green room, and tablets for mobile app development funded. Other teachers have had classroom sets of books, math manipulatives, and science lab equipment funded. We have been successful with this method where parents of our students can contribute and donation matching through the companies in which they work.
The parents aid us in the PR and marketing of the requested funding by sharing it out on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. As teachers, we do the same and inform parents through weekly parent newsletters and add it to our email signatures. Many times we are able to get fund matching from larger corporate sponsors as well making it easier to reach our equipment goals.
There are many other grants out there that are very competitive and the time required to complete the applications for our small school that doesn’t have someone devoted to grant writing isn’t typically worth the return or the gamble. Every teacher that has run a Donors Choose project has been funded in a few months or as little as 2 hours depending upon the project.
The drawback to this funding source is that smaller projects typically get approved quicker. As the Technology Department Chair, my projects ambitions tend to be larger, as a result, I have chunked some larger projects into small ones in order to get things funded and get equipment in place faster. We are currently trying to gain Chromebook assets to create a Chromebook cart that can be brought into classrooms. We have 4 right now and will be looking to launch another Donors Choose project in the next month in order to acquire more devices.
There are grants available on Digital Wish for technology (http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/grants).
We have also used scholarship opportunities for Free PD related to technology for teachers. The Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference each year runs scholarships for teachers to attend the workshop in two person or district teams up to 8 participants. Last year, our math teacher and I went the two person scholarship and then shared our experience with our colleagues upon our return. This year we are planning on applying again with the two teachers in our computer science department.
Through the local ISTE group, there are also funding opportunities available for technology PD and acquisition which our school is considering applying for in order to get equipment to support technology in the classroom. These can be found at: http://www.nhste.org/Grants-and-Awards.