When it comes to funding for K–12 schools, there are two types of grants: formula-based (such as Title funds) and competitive. Formula-based grants are allocated to schools that meet the criteria for the fund. Most come from state and federal government and are assessed yearly based on several criteria.
Lesser known are the competitive grants. School leaders must apply for this funding, which is limited to a certain number of recipients. It is sometimes offered at the government level and other times by companies or philanthropic organizations.
LEARN MORE: Grants aim to connect 12 million students without broadband access.
The education strategists at CDW can help districts win competitive grants because they have background knowledge and experience in helping schools to do so. They can help school leaders define how funds would impact the classroom, and they can support grant writers as they develop narratives to be used when applying for funding. They can even help schools identify grants through the GetEdFunding website. The only thing education strategists can’t do is write the grants themselves.
Education Strategists Provide Context to Help Districts Win Grants
Once a school identifies a grant it wants to apply for, the team at CDW can provide the vision. When IT leaders write their applications, they may not have contextual insight into how funding will impact the classroom, especially if they don’t have a background as an educator.
This is where CDW’s education team can offer support. The team can share examples of where they’ve seen a particular technology work in the classroom and how another school has used it, or they can offer insight on the bigger picture. During COVID-19 lockdowns, for example, many districts were trying to get their hands on devices. For districts that already had devices, education strategists offered classroom- and furniture-based solutions. As few school staff members were considering a return to the classroom early in the pandemic, this helped districts quickly and effectively secure competitive grants.
Click the banner for exclusive K–12 educational technology content when you sign up as an Insider.
Because very few grants focus solely on technology, the education strategist’s expertise will benefit IT departments greatly as administrators write curriculum-based grant applications. It is also helpful to include members of the district’s curriculum team, as they will have the most in-depth knowledge to contribute.
Prepare for Audits and Long-Term Sustainability of New Tech
Understanding how the funding and technology impact the classroom not only helps schools win competitive grants, but also helps them if they’re audited.
Federal and state funding will always be audited. Schools should keep careful track of how they spend government money, because auditors might dig down all the way to the serial numbers on classroom devices.
TRACK CLASSROOM DEVICES: Asset tagging helps districts manage student and staff tech.
Schools should also perform their own audits of budgets and ed tech programs. Competitive grants can be an excellent stream of funding for the short term, but schools should be ready to support successful programs when that money disappears. Talking to the district’s financial department is a key step in determining how the school will continue to support beneficial tech initiatives.
This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.