In The Money - Tech Learning

In The Money

Classrooms facing the money crunch have to find funds somewhere. Turn here for some of the most well-known and proactive K-12 grant providers.
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from Tech&Learning

Where to find extra education tech bucks

With the nation's economy in turmoil and the government budget axe falling on educational programs, many corporations and private foundations are responding to what has become a pressing need for funding in K-12 education throughout the United States. According to the Washington, D.C.- based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as of June 2008, at least 10 states are cutting or proposing to cut K-12 education budgets. For example, Florida has cut school aid by an estimated $130 per pupil; Nevada eliminated funds for gifted and talented programs; and Arizona is considering eliminating child-care subsidies for approximately 3,200 children in lowincome working families.

Much of the time, technology programs are the first to get hit. To help school districts, individual schools, and classroom teachers identify resources for grant money, Tech&Learning prepared the following guide to some of the most well-known and proactive K-12 grant providers. Many of these openly solicit grant proposals from educators in all 50 states.


Grant Program: ING Unsung Heroes Awards Program

During the past 10 years, the ING Unsung Heroes program has awarded $2.8 million in grants. Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those are chosen to receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000.

The Alabama Avenue Middle School (Albertville, AL) received a grant to help students participate in a program called "Explore the Technology Universe." The program provides an opportunity for students to explore technology by incorporating NASA information into the current curriculum. In a physical science course, students pretend to be astronauts and go through a year-long "astronaut training" program to investigate the principles of science through hands-on activities. Those activities include designing and building a model plane; building and launching hot-air balloons and rockets; researching waves; and studying actual data from NASA. Each student is provided with a handheld research tool that motivates them to complete their class work and expand their knowledge of how technology is applied. The program serves as an experimental model for the school to test the effect of technology use on overall student performance.


Grant Program: Olympus Tool Factory Classroom Grants

Olympus classroom grants are open to K-12 and special education schools in the US, its territories, and Canada. The program awards 10 grants each year.

In 2007, the New Britain High School (New Britain, Connecticut) was awarded an Olympus Tool Factory Classroom Grant to teach students basic food preparation techniques, including nutrition, sanitation, and business management. The diverse nature of the curriculum provided an ideal platform for using technology to enhance student learning. During the program, students were introduced to a variety of new technologies, including digital cameras and project-building software. During the course, students visited a large local supermarket to touch and photograph the store's produce—creating a permanent record of the visit and a visual means of identification of the foods. Students used Olympus's Multimedia Lab V software technology to create a final presentation. Their photographs complemented the slides which contained text derived from their research.


Grant Program(s): The Dollar General Back-to-School Grant

The Dollar General Back-to- School Grants provide funding to assist schools with some of their financial challenges, whether in implementing new programs, or purchasing new equipment, materials, or software for their school library or literacy program.

The Cowpens Middle School of Pacolet (Glendale, SC) was a recent recipient of a $5,000 Dollar General Grant. The school used the grant to obtain books on CD-ROM for the special education classroom library and school library. The school's book club was a major beneficiary of the funds, which were used to purchase books for club members. For reluctant and slow readers, the school purchased books to expand its collection of comic books and auditory books. A small portion was also used to fund incentive programs.


Grant Program(s): Education: Early Learning, High Schools, and Scholarships

Through its partnerships in communities across the United States, the Gates Foundation is committed to raising the high school graduation rate and preparing all students for college or work upon graduation from high school. The Gates Foundation's education initiative also provides children with opportunities for quality early learning. The Foundation has invested more than $1.5 billion in the creation of highquality, high-performing schools and systems, supporting more than 1,800 schools.

Envision Schools (San Francisco) is receiving $10.2 million through 2012 to help create top-quality options for high school education in California. Learning by engaging in projects is a key element in the program. Students are encouraged to build their own projects using traditional tools, as well as contemporary technologies, including blogs, video, and multimedia computing. They formally present their work to peers, friends, and family—an audience that often tops 200 people.


Grant Program: Best Buy Teach Award Program

Best Buy Teach Award provides gift cards to schools to enable them to purchase technology for their students. Since 2004, the Best Buy Teach Award program has awarded more than $17 million to over 6,000 K-12 schools nationwide. In 2008, Best Buy will award up to $2 million to K-12 schools in the US and Puerto Rico. Awards will range from $1,000 to $5,000 based on specific school needs. $10,000 will be awarded to up to 15 applications supporting 9th grade programs.

In 2008, Best Buy awarded grants to the following school districts as part of the Best Buy Teach Award program:

  • Bend LaPine School District - Bend, OR
  • Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District - Santa Ynez, CA
  • Springdale Public Schools - Springdale, AK
  • Saint Paul Public Schools - St. Paul, MN
  • Monroe County Community School Corp. - Bloomington, IN
  • DeKalb County Schools - Decatur, GA
  • Spartanburg District Two - Boiling Springs, SC
  • Nazareth Area School District - Nazareth, PA


Grant Program(s): Intel Education Grants

The Intel Foundation contributes millions of dollars annually to school districts and other educational institutions in communities where the company operates major facilities. Over the past decade, Intel has invested more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions worldwide. Intel is keen to support education through grants for programs that advance science, math, and technology education— particularly for women and underserved populations. According to Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, the foundation has a strong interest in supporting K-12 education programs "that deliver the kind of educational opportunities that all students will need to prepare themselves to succeed in the 21st century."

Motivated by the Intel Teach Program, part of Intel's $100 million annual Intel Education Initiative, educators from two small towns on opposite sides of the globe engaged their students in a cross-cultural, environmental research project employing Web 2.0 technologies. The result: students not only honed essential 21st century skills-including digital literacy, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving—they also acquired a more global perspective on environmental issues and were inspired to make positive changes in their communities, according to an Intel case study. Despite being half a world away from each other, students in Wedderburn, Victoria, Australia, and Andale, Kansas, United States, had similar reactions when their teachers showed them the documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." The video kicked off a cross-continental study of environmental issues, with both sites connected via videoconferencing. Other elements of the project included charting the environmental impact of students' families via "environmental footprints" and participating in a final presentation of learning.


Grant Program(s): TAF provides grants up to $1,000 for K-6 teachers (offered each fall). Grades 7-12 teachers may apply for grants up to $5,000 at any time during the calendar year. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year.

The mission of Toshiba America Foundation is to promote quality science and mathematics education in US schools. Grants are made for K-12 programs and activities that improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics. The Foundation focuses its grant-making on inquiry-based projects designed by individual teachers and small teams for use in their own classrooms.

The Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics & Science (GHAMAS) received a TAF grant for classroom research on biofuels. During the 2007- 08 school year, using money provided by TAF, the Growing Algae team at GHAMAS produced five tanks of algae. They also created a method for harvesting algae and gained knowledge of different growing environments. So far this year, the Oil to Diesel team at GHAMAS has created batches of suspected biodiesel from canola oil and plans to subject the batches to further experimentation. In addition, the group has decided to send its suspected biodiesel samples to a University of Connecticut professor for testing.

What Did They Do with Their Grant?

When the St. Rose of Lima School in Miami Shores, FL, received a grant from the North Miami Medical Foundation, they decided to buy 15 SMART Boards for their classrooms. They had tested a few SMART Boards in several areas of the school, including a classroom, science lab, computer lab, and media center. Teachers loved the boards, so they took the plunge.

"We're developing lesson plans on every grade level to supplement the current curriculum," says Roberta DiPietro, Media Specialist at St. Rose of Lima School. "The interactivity feature makes the lessons more enriching as they address different learning styles."

While they have not done an official assessment that can be attributed to the technology, DiPietro says teachers have seen student achievement and retention of information that surpasses conventional instructional assessment.

DiPietro says schools can implement a similar program by reaching out to PTOs, communities, and corporate and foundation funding. "The key is to start with at least one SMART Board in a central location," she says, "and then show it off!"



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