Stories about teachers having to spend hundreds of dollars buying necessary supplies for their classrooms is so commonplace there are memes about it!
Funding for everything from teachers’ salaries to textbooks to tartar sauce varies by state, and may come from different places. If you need additional resources in your classroom or school, there are several ways to go about looking for the funds.
Before we move on: The key to getting funding is understanding your school and district's goals, speaking to the right people, making an evidence-based case, and having support from others.
How to find funding
First, you should know where the money is being spent and where it’s coming from.
At the state level:
Funding and the funding process varies by state. Certain states may only grant a certain amount each year, and requesting more funding might have to wait until the next year.
Find the budget for your state's Department of Education and your own district.
Search the documents for keywords that relate to you such as math, science, or STEM to see what initiatives may be in progress.
Review where money is being spent, and see if there is any money left over, and where gaps exist to inform future conversations with leadership.
Several state DOE websites even have links to funds and grants.
See Additional Resources for links to relevant links to all 50 states’ educational departments.
At the school board/district level:
All school board financial information is public information and you can request it from your treasurer or board.
Review your School Improvement Plan, the District Improvement Plan, the Technology Improvement Plan to understand your district’s and school’s priorities. If you are currently in School Improvement status, your school will have additional funding to meet goals. If your needs for your classroom are aligned with these priorities, it will be easier for you to get funding.
Who should you talk to and how should you prepare?
If the funds are at the state level, loop in your principal, admin, or curriculum coordinator and explain what funds you’re seeking and why. Most states have specific procedures for requesting funds, so having others in your corner to bounce strategies and application materials off of will be helpful.
At the school board/district/school level:
Use the information you have found about your school to guide conversations.
Talking to leaders in your school can help you determine if any of your classroom needs align with their goals. The following list of people have some direction of the budget: Department chairs have positions that allow them to advocate for funds. Principals have funds available. Curriculum coordinators guide purchases for textbooks and instructional materials. Special needs coordinators and technology coordinators can buy resources that meet the goals they are trying to reach. Board treasurers will know where funds might be.
When planning your conversation:
Make sure the resources you want are truly solving a problem your students are experiencing.
Collect evidence on how your students would benefit from the resources.
Gain support from other teachers, leaders, or even students who have tried the resource. Get a group together who supports your goal.
Make a case for your resources by aligning them with the goals of your leadership team.
Let leaders see the resource in action if possible—is there a free trial, pilot program or other offer from the vendor that your kids could try and you could demonstrate?
Find ways to make the needed resources more impactful. Can other teachers or grades use them? Can they be reused for years to come?
Where else can you find funding?
Meet with the PTA or PTO at your school.
Find local businesses who are willing to sponsor a classroom or school initiative.
Check out Donorschoose.com.
Many organizations and educational companies offer free products or trials, or grants that teachers or admins can apply for, including ExploreLearning!