Today, lots of schools are looking for ways to develop new technology-based programs or incorporate tehcnology in new and different ways in curricula, teacher training progams and other areas. And that's great news. As the world becomes more and more tech-dependent, having students who understand how to navigate that environment is critical to their future success as adults. But, just because you have a plan in place doesn't mean you have the funding to implement it. As many schools find out, implementation costs of even modest tech programs can be quite high, often far exceeding a district's tech budget.Fortuntately, there are solutions.
In addition to raising funds through grassroots efforts like parent-teacher groups and local foundations, there are a couple of federal programs available that can make tech funding a reality for many districts looking to implement new strategies or expand on existing programs:
Also known as the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries, the E-Rate program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), an independent nonprofit group designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides funding to schools and libraries to help offset the cost of obtaining Internet access, telecommunications and internal network communications connections. There are five categories under which funding may be obtained:
Basic maintenance of internal connections
Discounts on these services range from 20 percent to 90 percent, and the level of support a school or district may receive depends on economic data as well as whether the school is located in an urban or rural area. The funding program has an annual cap of about $2.3 billion.Although this is essentially an FCC-related grant, the USAC oversees application processing, eligibility confirmation and funds disbursement.
Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT)
The goal of this federal program is to enhance and improve student learning and achievement byincorporating technology in elementary and secondary school environments. In addition, the program aims to ensure students become technologically literate by the end of eighth grade by providing teacher training and curriculum development for programs that can be broadly implemented. Grants are provided to state educational agencies based on the state’s proportionate share of funding under Part A of Title I. According to the EETT website, types of projects include:
the use of new or existing technologies to improve academic achievement
the development of technology-based curricula that designed to meet state academic standards
the use of technology to increase parent involvement
the use of technology to collect and analyze data to enhance professional performance
Finding funding for tech programs for your school may seem like a hassle, but the time you invest in learning about different funding options can yield great results. As with any fundraising project, the key is to diversify and consider many different sources, from local and state programs to parent-teacher groups and educaitonal foundations to federal grants like the two described here. Take time to review any grant's requirements to make sure your application is custom-tailored both to your needs and to the funding organization's goals and objectives, and before you know it, you could have the funds you need to make your program a reality.