Nearly every type of school is eligible to receive grant funding. Yes, even private schools! Many schools, however, don’t pursue the funding that is available. With teachers bogged down with oversized classrooms and administrators working after hours to ensure compliance with testing and state and local achievement goals, educators often do not have the time or energy to write grants. Developing a grant proposal can take anywhere from 10 to more than several hundred hours. At the college level, professors often seek sabbaticals just to focus on grant proposal writing.
If you are the parent of a student whose school needs additional funding for after school, extracurricular, technology, and other types of programs, it is important to know that you have the ability to support the school in seeking grant funding. First, it’s important to realize that the school or district itself typically must be what we call the “lead fiscal agent” of a grant funding opportunity. This means that the school or district must be the direct recipient of the grant. Because of this, it is important to communicate with your school’s principal or district administration that you would like to support their grant funding endeavors. You will have to receive the appropriate “buy-in” when pursuing a grant due to the fact that the education agency will be the entity responsible for financial management, grant implementation, and grant reporting. Although you can help with these activities, if a grant is awarded it is ultimately the lead fiscal agent’s responsibility to comply with funder requirements.
The funding you pursue is dependent on the type of school you plan to represent. Here is some more information on grant funding for common school types:
Public Schools (K-12)
Most government and private grants for education are targeted for public schools and public school districts (also referred to as Local Education Agencies or LEA’s). We are talking about grants that come from the US Department of Education at the federal level to state grants from a number of different types of entities (i.e., State Arts Agencies, Offices of Public Instruction, Offices of Health & Human Services). Private foundation funding is also available. The key to finding the right grant opportunity is having a good grant search tool/database and knowing what to look for. Most grants have deadlines for proposal submission and all grants have a section in the grant announcement that explains eligibility. If a grant proposal is due in less than a few weeks it is probably an opportunity you should skip. If your school doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements, you definitely will want to bow out. Note that some grant announcements require schools to have a certain free and reduced lunch rate or other demographics to be competitive. This is very important to check before starting the grant writing process. Other grants require the LEA to be the lead fiscal agent. In this case, school principals are often able to liaison with school district officials to secure approval to apply for the funding.
Here are some great search links for K-12 public school grants:
For the most part, the same guidelines apply to charter schools. There are two basic types of charter schools. The first are those that operate under a public school district which means they are viewed as a public school within an LEA. Other charters are directly incorporated through the state and are considered their own LEA. Keep this in mind while you are looking at the eligibility criteria for a grant.
One myth that many people, including educators, have is that private schools cannot receive government funding. This is not true. There are many government and private grants that a nonprofit charter school can pursue. Most private schools are incorporated as 501(c)(3)’s. This makes them a nonprofit. Any grant opportunity that is open to nonprofits can be pursued by a private school. Another concern that is commonly brought up when consulting with private schools deals with religion. At Resource Associates, we are asked almost daily if a religious nonprofit – whether it be a private school or a church – can legally apply for government money. The answer is ABSOLUTELY. As long as government money isn’t directly being used to pay for religious programs or services, there typically is no conflict unless stated otherwise in the grant opportunity announcement. For example, if a private school were to apply for a 21st Century Learning Centers Grant (this is federally generated/state sub-funded money that pays for after school programs), that money could only be allowed to cover the cost of the after school program. If the school were to want to include a religious “chapel” during that program, the money could not be spent on facilitating that chapel or paying for the use of the chapel space. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. And, don’t forget, Resource Associates’ free consulting and technical assistance can help you navigate any questions or confusion.
Be sure to sign up for our free Grant Siren service to receive daily alerts of grants for which your school may be eligible to apply. It is a great service and you can be alerted of grant opportunities through either text or email.
Click here for more information about finding and winning grant funding for your school or district.