Consumer electronics giant Samsung just awarded five contest-winning K-12 schools more than $100,000 each in technology grants. Control company AMX awards grants for schools that add the company’s RMS (Resource Management Suite) remote management software to existing AMX SchoolView systems. Videoconferencing provider Polycom helps schools locate government-funded grants for distance and personalized learning systems. These companies are not alone. Plenty of funding sources for school technologies are out there just waiting for the right school district.
There are different types of funding resources. Some are outright grants like the one awarded
by AMX. Others are contests like the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow program, in which 75 semi-finalists have to create a video about how they would use STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning to help the environment in their communities. Then there are government grants and other alternative funding sources that companies like Polycom can direct schools toward. Schools can even apply for partnerships and pilot programs. To get started, school administrators and technology directors just need to know where to look for these funding opportunities and how to go about the application process, but that can be anything but easy.
“It’s overwhelming to search for grants,” says Michael Peveler, vice president of Education Sales for AMX. “Schools have to have someone dedicated to finding grant opportunities, there are so many out there.”
That’s not the only challenge schools face. There’s still the matter of what to do once you find a grant opportunity.
According to Jeff Barlow, grant development manager for Polycom, the biggest mistake schools make is not starting early enough. For instance, he says the U.S. Department of Education’s Investment in Innovation (I3) grant application notice for scale-up projects is in April with a submittal deadline for June 28. “If you wait until April, you suddenly have only until June to do an application for a highly competitive grant with $25 million available.”
The moral: start early, before the application process is open, if possible.
The application process isn’t just about filling out forms. You’ll need a plan, and that requires getting people together on the idea, attending meetings, and devising a strategic planning process that identifies goals and measures, and creates an implementation process.
For instance, the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grants may also become available with an application notice in August and a deadline of Oct. 18. “A Race to the Top