How Schools Can Get Funding for Educational Programs

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In today’s uncertain economic climate, it can often seem like money is constantly being chipped away from educational programs. As budgets dry up, important after-school programs, extracurricular activities, and fine arts classes are frequently being limited or discontinued. This is a dangerous trend for many reasons, particularly the fact that educational programs aimed at targeting critical issues like bullying, mental health, and substance abuse are often the first on the chopping block.

Luckily, even in the face of increased budget cuts and evaporating funding, there are numerous opportunities for schools to supplement their programs through educational funding initiatives. The tips below offer an introduction into the world of funding for educational programs and provide an overview of how to get funding for school programs.

Different Types of Educational Funding Available

There are many different types of funding for school programs available to educational institutions of all types, from preschools and STEM schools to private schools and public universities. Grants are the most common of funding format, and their qualifications can range from quite broad to highly specific.

Some grants may be targeted specifically for technology development in inner city schools, while others may be designated for funding anti-bullying programs in after-school activities. For schools, educational funding offerings typically come in the form of grants from three different sources:

  • Federal Funding: There are hundreds of different types of grants available through most of the federal government’s agencies. Examples of federal funding include the Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant program[1] and the STOP Act grant program[2], both of which offer funding for substance abuse programs and are backed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  • Local & State Funding: Historically, local and state funding has accounted for the majority of funding for educational programs (93% in recent years), according to the National Center for Education Statistics[3]. These types of funding sources are likely to be much more specific to your state or region, and can vary widely from location to location. For example, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently offered an Indiana STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund Grant to recruit, train, and place new STEM teachers into underserved Indiana school systems[4].
  • Private Educational Funding: This type of educational funding comes from non-governmental bodies, such as corporations, foundations, charities, and other independent entities, both on a national and local level. One example of private educational funding is the W.K. Kellogg Foundation[5]. Established in 1930 by the founder of the staple breakfast brand, the foundation annually offers a wide array of grants covering everything from children’s health and educational programs to social and civic improvement services.

How to Apply for Funding for Educational Programs

Funding applications for educational programs will vary widely from grant to grant, and their complexity and competitiveness will be largely dependent on whether you are pursuing private, local, state, or federal funding.

Once you have decided which grant(s) you are interested in pursuing, it’s important to first ensure that your school (or classroom, program, etc.) fits within all of the given eligibility requirements and judging criteria. It’s a waste of valuable time and energy to apply for a grant for which you aren’t eligible.

After determining your eligibility, it’s critical to strictly follow any and all application guidelines, paying special attention to any important dates and deadlines. Additionally, make sure to craft the application to fit within any formatting or content requirements laid out in the grant instructions. Check and double-check for any spelling or grammatical errors, awkward phrasing, or confusing and unclear verbiage.

Present your school’s story in a clear, compelling way, and provide any requested data or supplementary information. In short, you want to make it as easy as possible for the selection committee to focus on your school’s story and funding needs, rather than on any distractions like misspelled words or missing parts.

Using Surveys to Qualify for Educational Funding Opportunities

Oftentimes, one of the primary criterion that schools are judged on when applying for educational funding is their specific need. The word “need” here can be applied to just about anything that a school is currently unable to provide that would greatly improve the educational and social environment of the school or the community. Depending on the school, that could mean IT and technology needs, musical education course needs, substance abuse education program needs, and more.

One of the best ways to identify and demonstrate your school’s needs and qualifications for educational funding is through survey data. School surveys allow administrators and decision-makers to acquire a non-biased, comprehensive representation of the issues affecting the students, teachers, and parents involved in the school environment. These empirically tested measurements can evaluate and provide information about a wide range of subjects, such as substance abuse, bullying/mental health, and school climate, among other things.

Similarly, multi-year grants and other long-term educational funding sources often require that schools demonstrate progress towards goals and benchmarks. Using school surveys is an immensely helpful way to evaluate the effectiveness of the funded programs and initiatives. When conducted every year or every other year, they are especially helpful in showing trends and change over time.

How to Get Funding for School Programs

Every year, federal, state, and local governments, along with corporate and private foundations, offer billions of dollars of funding for educational programs. The process for garnering additional educational funding may seem daunting at first. But with a little research, hard work, and dedication, your school can receive valuable funding for school programs that will have a profoundly positive impact on your school and your community.

[1] “Drug-Free Communities Support Program.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from on January 28, 2016.

[2] “STOP Act Legislation.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from on January 28, 2016.

[3] “How Do We Fund Our Schools?” Retrieved from on January 28, 2016.

[4] “Indiana STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund Grant.” Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Retrieved from on January 28, 2016.

[5] The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Retrieved from on January 28, 2016.

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