Finding Educational Technology Grants
As of June 2009 a search for 'finding technology grants' on Google returns over thirty four million search results! A search for the exact phrase "technology grants" + education returns over one hundred thousand search results. It is difficult to know where to begin.
The goal of this section of the wikibook is to get you started in your search for grants by discussing reliable sources of grants available on the internet and to help you write your grant applications well.
The focus of this chapter will be on competitive grants. Competitive grants are typically decided based on how well the applicants project design matches with the purpose of the grant. The grant will often explain in detail exactly how an application will be scored (and ultimately awarded) based on points for each criteria they are looking for.
As you begin your search for technology grants, a good place to begin is on the U.S. Department of Education Website specifically on the 'Apply for a Grant page'. This website attempts to guide the grant novice by providing numerous links to some of their most frequently asked navigation questions such as 'How do I Find Grants to Apply For?'. The site also has a useful help section which features their most commonly asked questions such as how to best target your grant searches. In addition there is a Web page on the site that lists grants specifically for Technology in Education.
Another useful page to monitor regularly on the www.edu.gov is the Federal Register Announcements page. This page is updated daily to display the most recently made available grants. It is also searchable.
Edu.gov also offers a subscription to a weekly email notification of federal teaching and learning resources and Department of Education funding opportunities. More about this weekly email can be found here.
Grants.gov was established in 2002 as part of the presidents 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda with a goal to improve government services to the public. In recent years this website has established itself as the one-stop-shop for finding federal grants. This Website provides access to approximately $400 billion in annual grants. In addition to searching for grants, grants.gov also offers other features such as application submission and tracking. The registration process for this Website takes some time, so register in advance.
This website offers several ways to search for or browse grants. Options include:
- Basic search by keyword, Funding Opportunity Number or CFDA number
The Funding Opportunity Number is a unique identifier for each grant in the grants.gov system. It maybe be useful to organize your grant information by Funding Opportunity Number.
- Browse by Category
This page allows the grant researcher to look at available grants by category. Available categories include Education, Energy, Arts, Food & Nutrition and many more. This capability makes it possible to search for one type of grant (e.g. Education) across many agencies.
- Browse by Agency
Agencies in this section include the Department of Education*
- Advanced Search
The Advanced Search allows you to get very granular in your search for specific types of grants. Search criteria includes grant status (e.g. closed or open), date, eligibility (e.g. school districts, Native American Tribes, nonprofits) and category.
Grants.gov also offers a mailing list and an RSS feed so one can easily monitor newly available grants. See their subscriptions page for more information.
*It appears as though grants.gov and edu.gov list the same grant opportunities. It is unclear why one would choose to use the edu.gov site over the grants.gov site.
Aside from the government, private foundations are another source for grants. There are several types of foundations such as private, federated funds (pools donations to benefit the community), corporate, community and financial institutions. The Foundation Center is one place to start when searching for foundation funding activities. This Website charges annual subscription rates of between $195 and $1,295 per year. The higher the subscription price, the more features made available to you on their Website. Their basic subscription allows you to search their foundation database by location, type of grant a foundation makes and the foundation area of interest.
Some of their information is available for free offline in what they call "cooperating collections" which are primary located in libraries and other nonprofit resource centers. Learn more about cooperating collections here.
- In-Kind: The grant money received must be matched by your organization. These funds do not always have to be matched with money. It is possible to demonstrate matching with the value of the use of existing computer while executing the grant for example.
- LEA: (Local Educational Agency) A grant indicated as LEA means the grant is only available to public schools.
- Direct Grants: A direct grant is a grant you apply for directly through the federal government.
- Pass-through grants: A pass-through grant is federal money distributed through your state.
How to quickly evaluate a grant: Is it right for your organization?
When you find a grant announcement that matches your basic criteria, use the following four steps to quickly prequalify the grant for further investigation.
- Eligible Applicants
A Good first step is too take a look at who is eligible for the grant.
A grants deadline may also influence your decision as to whether this grant is right for your organization. The deadline is typically listed in the first few pages of the grant announcement.
- Estimated Average Award Size
Is the size of the grant enough to fund your project? If not, where will the rest of the funds come from?
- Estimated Number of Awards
This number will help to give you an idea of how good your chances are at being awarded this grant.
How to Write Effective Grant Applications
Writing a grant application is a very difficult and time consuming process. The following are some general tips for writing a grant application.
Helpful Hints for Grant Application Writing
- Make sure to have the approval and commitment from the administration within your school district before carrying out the process of applying for a grant.
- Read the guidelines carefully and make sure that the grant you're applying for fits your needs.
- Read ALL of the directions and follow them carefully.
- Make sure you have a solid idea and plenty of supporting details.
- Involve others to build a commitment to the project so that there is plenty of support to carry out the project if it does get funded.
- Before jumping into this process, make sure the funding will be sufficient for the project.
Helpful Tips for Your Request to Proposal
The funder ALWAYS has a set of guidelines telling you what they want to see in a funding request. As you read through the request for proposal, you need to make sure that you understand completely how the funders define their terms. You also need to consider whether there's more than one way to interpret what they're asking for.
- If you don't understand what they're asking for, call or e-mail them!
All funders basicially ALWAYS ask for the following three blocks of information.
- Information about your organization and its qualifications.
- Information about the specific project for which you're seeking funding.
- A narrative about what you intend to do with the money if you receive it.
Helpful Hints (Information about your organization and its qualifications)
*The funder will ask for the legal name of the organization applying: Make sure to list your organization's legal name in this section. For public schools or school districts, the legal name is the incorporated name.
*Type of applicant: For this part of the request, you just check the box that best describes your organization.
*Year founded: Enter the year that your organization was created.
*Current operating budget: For the budget, make sure to supply the funder with your operating budget total for the current fiscal year.
*Employer identification number and DUNS number: This portion of the form is asking you for the seven- digit employer identification number assigned to your organization by the Internal Revenue Service.
*Organization's fiscal year: This is the twelve month time frame that your organization considers to be its operating, or fiscal year.
*Congressional districts: This is where you list all of the congressional districts in which your organization is located. *If you don't know this information, you can contact the public library*
*Contact person information: The individual who takes care of grant or cooperative agreement negotiations should be the contact person when applying for a grant.
*Telephone/fax/e-mail information: Make sure to list the contact person's telephone, fax numbers *with area code* as well as an e-mail address.
The following are helpful hints below about the five most important parts of a grant application; specific aims, background and significance, preliminary studies and progress reports, research designs and methods, and proofreading your application.
This is what you intend to do; a strong grant application has a strong and solid hypothesis with clear research objectives. Basically specific aims is a formal statement of the objectives and milestones of the research project towards testing the hypothesis. Specific aims should include the following:
- specific research objectives
- be hypothesis based
- be obtainable within the proposed timeframe
- fit together in an overall framework
- be well focused rather than broad
- limited to ONE page
Background and Significance:
This portrays why the work is important; this section states the research problem, including the rationale, current state of knowledge, and potential contributions and significance of your research to the field. The following are some helpful tips when preparing this portion of the grant application:
- Two to three pages is recommended for the background and significance section
- Highlight potential impacts
- Identify controversies that the project is designed to resolve.
- Specify existing gaps that the project is intended to fill.
- References should reflect up to date knowledge of the field.
- Highlight why research findings are important beyond the confines of the specific research project
- Convey the importance and relevance of research aims.
Preliminary Studies/ Progress Report:
This section can be used to describe your prior work relevant to the proposed project. This can consist of your own publications. Make sure to have a solid body of preliminary data that demonstrates the probable success of your research. The following are some helpful hints when preparing this portion of the grant application:
- Discuss how previous work leads to the current proposal.
- Accuracy and overall presentation are important in figures, tables, and graphs.
- If you do not have the required expertise for a specific methodology, enlist a collaborator or consultant. (Make sure to include a letter of support or agreement.
Research Design and Methods
This section goes along with the narrative about what you plan to do with the money if you receive it. Use this section to describe how you plan to carry out the research. Your research methods should relate directly to the aims you've described. This section is critical for demonstrating that the applicant has developed a clear, organized, and thoughtful study design that tests the central hypothesis. This section is NOT a list of recipes for methods, experiments, and data collection. The following are some helpful hints when preparing this portion of the grant application:
- Should provide an overview of the proposed design and conceptual framework.
- Study goals should relate to proposed study hypotheses.
- Include details related to specific methodology; explain why the proposed methods are the best to accomplish study goals.
- Describe any novel concepts, approaches, tools or techniques.
- Include details of how data will be collected and results analyzed.
- Consider required statistical techniques.
- Include proposed work plan and timeline.
- Consider and discuss potential limitations and alternative approaches to achieve study aims.
- Keep in mind that a carefully developed research plan will also be reflected in a realistic and well-justified budget for the project, whether it is a modular or non-modular budget.
Proofreading and Editing your Grant Application
- Make sure you allow a sufficient amount of time to go back and edit the application.
- Make sure to allot time for colleagues, mentors, and collaborators to review and edit the grant application.
- It is generally a great idea to have an independent expert provide an objective critique of your application.
- Last but DEFINITELY not least, you need to make sure you have ZERO tolerance for typographical errors, misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and/or sloppy formating. An application with any of these errors will lead reviewers to think that your research is conducted in the same manner.
- Garrigan, S. (2009, May 28). Lecture presented in TLT 474. Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.
- About Grants.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2009, from http://www07.grants.gov/aboutgrants/about_grants_gov.jsp
- Brewer, E.W., & Achilles, C. (2007). Finding funding: Grantwriting from start to finish, including project management and internet use. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
- Browning, Beverly (2009). Grant writing for dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc.
- Karsh, E., & Fox, A.S. (2006). The only grant-writing book you'll ever need. New York: Basic Books
- Frazier, Max, Gerald D. Bailey (2004). The technology coordinator's handbook. International Society for Technology in Education.