California Regional Environmental Education Community
Money, we all need it to accomplish our goals. The bigger the dreams, the more money needed! Who will help you purchase curriculum or send your class to a week of Outdoor School? How can you afford to get your students on a boat in the open ocean for hands on lessons in Marine Science?
Grant Writing Tips and Resources
Here are some ideas on where and how to get money for Environmental Education:
Wouldn't it be great to see your taxes in action! The Federal government is willing to spend millions of dollars to support innovative teaching, especially in science areas. Some of this Federal money is given to the states, but some of it is given away directly. Do you have a good idea? The government might fund it!
US Department of Education
The best place to begin research about US Department of Ed grants.
]National Science Foundation
Grants and funding opportunities, proposal preparation, links to funding sources. With over $200 million each year, the Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. The Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence in Math and Science gives $7,500 to 4 teachers in each state...why shouldn't you be one of them?
National Science Teachers Association
Outlines opportunities for teachers and students to receive over $1 million in cash and prizes each year.
California Department of Education
State Senators and Assemblymen listen to teachers with big ideas. Call your legislator's office and make a request inquiring about funding.
School District Funds
- PTA's often fund environmental education field trips.
- Request SIP funds from your SITE Council.
- Most districts subsidize student outings to an outdoor school. If yours doesn't, its time to talk to the superintendent!
- There is discretionary money for environmental education curriculum. Talk to your principal.
- Capital Outlay Monies are available to the district. Do you need a piece of expensive equipment (microscopes, a Starlab), or want to build something like an aquarium? Your principal or department head is the best place to begin your inquiries about the process.
- Other Federal funds given to local school districts are called:
- Title VI Grants (formerly known as Chapter II) has a goal of "acquisition and use of instructional and educational materials...used to improve the quality of instruction."
- Eisenhower Funds. The Eisenhower focus is "staff development in math and science resulting in improvement of math/science teaching." For example, they can be used pay registration fees and the cost of a substitute so you can go to a conference.
Over $8 billion a year is given away by thousands of foundations in the United States. Established by wealthy individuals, foundations serve the public and carry on the family name. It is important to know how the foundation works and what they give to. The IRS requires foundations to give away at least 5% of their income each year, and that is public information. This information is tabulated, cross-referenced and available in searchable form in the library and on the Internet. Since there are so many foundations, professional grant seekers-writers-fund raisers are happy to help you (for a fee!) or you can do it yourself with a little research and help from the great websites below.
The Foundation Center All the training you could want. This site is comprehensive source of information about opportunities from private foundations.
Chronicle of Philanthropy Information on private funding.
Corporation Grants, Local Businesses, Service Clubs
The local McDonalds, the bank on the corner, the big company with headquarters in your town, businessmen, farmers, dairymen, and your favorite petroleum driller...they all want (and need) to give back to their community. Some have a formal giving program with guidelines, and some don't think about giving until you approach them with your great idea! These are the partnerships that will be long lasting and beneficial to both partners.
Need a Crash Course in asking for money? Here are the steps.
- Set up an appointment and present your case. Lay out why you are planning to do and explain how will they benefit? (Improved education means a better workforce for them in the future, their logo on your equipment reminds the community of their generosity, and both your faces in the newspaper adds up to good publicity!)
- Be gutsy, make the presentation, ask for the moon! Here is the key! You have to get TWO "yes's."
- First Yes..."Do you believe in (the benefits of student gardening)?"
- Second Yes..."Will you give ($15,000 to develop the student garden at Lincoln School?)"
- The next step is the hard one....be quiet and WAIT for them to respond! There may be an awkward period of silence, but the next person who talks "looses" the war of the wills. Wait for them to say, "Well, $15,000 is a bit steep for my company right now, but we can give you $10,000."
- Go back to them in the future! You aren't wearing out your welcome, you are strengthening your partnership. If they were pleased with the result of their first contribution, they will trust you easier with a second. Look at them as a conduit of funds, not a one time present.
- If your goals for environmental education with students match the goals of an organization, you have a good chance for a long term partnership that will be beneficial to both! You never know which group will help you until you ask.
Relatives, Neighbors and Students themselves
Friends are the strongest supporters. They buy the candy, wrapping paper, and light bulbs that they really didn't want or need - just to support the kids. Here are some other ideas:
- Have relatives get a deeper look into student development and directly support the kids by "buying stock" in student journals or "subscribing" to student developed newsletters.
- Set up a non-profit foundation so they can make direct contributions by becoming "Patrons" in the student venture.
Have THEM take on the fundraising for you so you can stick to what you do best...teaching students with your vision and enthusiasm.
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