FUND YOUR CLASSROOM
Need funding support? Here are some tips for grant writing that can help your FT STEM classroom take flight!
Due to the technological resources used in STEM curricula, successfully funding them can be a challenge. FT STEM is proud to create a package of funding opportunities and accompanied resources to help you fund your classroom. Below are some suggested tips and steps for grant writing.STEP 1: Identify exactly what you need
It's important to do your homework and generate an itemized list of needed materials and equipment for your classroom. There are grade level recommended FT STEM consumables located in the Support Tab under "Getting Started." Most grant applications will ask for an itemized list of materials, so the more specific you are, the better off you will be.
STEP 2: The Why Factor
Understanding the FT STEM curriculum and its overall mission will enable you to make the connections and to explain the reasoning for acquiring the funds. Below are the foundational objectives of FT STEM to learn and to use within your grant applications.
The FT STEM curriculum meets an array of STEM-based national standards for grades K–12 and promotes the following:
- 21st-century skills application
- Design thinking through real-world problem-solving
- Multiple cross-content connections
- Creativity and innovation
- Literacy skills
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Student and educator learning communities
- College and career readiness
STEP 3: Finding the Best Fit!
Knowing the “what” and “why” will prepare you for finding a grant best suited for your classroom FT STEM goals. With this information, communicate your need to the district level grant writer. Typically district grant authors will go for the big money grants, so it is a good idea to address a few matters when you speak with them.
- If multiple teachers want to implement FT STEM within their district, it increases the opportunities for bigger grants.
- Finding multiple teachers who want to team up for a grant could be difficult, and the grant writer will more than likely not move forward with your request.However, the grant writer is the gatekeeper for grants that circulate throughyour area, and they can lead you in the right direction based on your needs.Take those identified needs and check your eligibility, then plan prior to filling them out.
- Going after state, national or large corporate grants is EXTREMELY difficult. You greatly increase your chances by going after in-district and local grants.Focus your time and effort into these potential assets.
STEP 4: Planning
Once you have found the grant that you wish to apply for, it is time to plan. The first step is to decide how you want to approach the grant, meaning how you are going to tie in FT STEM and its use in the parameters that the grant requires. Most STEM grants are the same; they deal with innovation, creativity and the lab itself. There may be some instances when they require more, for example assessment, literacy connection and so on. FT STEM covers most if not all requirements that STEM grant foundations are looking for.Teacher Insight from Jake Marshall:
The Ottercares Foundation is a huge STEM donor in the Northern Colorado area, and we at MESArc take full advantage of their provided resources. The Innovation Center grant they offer is right up our alley, and there is no limit on the request. This was our plan:
- Establish our needs, displaying a detailed generated list that has images, descriptions, costs and why we need it. The list incorporated a laser cutter, CNC cutter, four 3D printers and an assortment of R/C equipment. The request totaled 20,000 dollars.
- After reading through the application questions, our angle was to create an innovation center for future students to prepare them for future STEM occupational fields through the lens of scratch-build aviation. Having the right equipment would allow us to successfully execute our curriculum as well as give students hands-on experience with the latest STEM fabrication technology.
- Identify the content we needed based on the application and gather all that we need to formulate answers to the following:
- What is the program about?
- Program objectives
- How to measure the objectives?
- How does the program connect to STEM?
- How many students we are planning to influence
All grant applications have different ways of completing their forms. Read the entire grant through a couple of times, and make sure you have covered all your bases. Once you are ready, begin completing the form, sticking to your identified plan. ALWAYS read and revise your work. Make sure you have a nice flow to the grant and that grammatically it is clean. It is all about communication; if you can't communicate into words what you need and why, your chances will decrease.
STEP 6: Follow up, developing collaboration and showing growth
This is a very important step, especially if you plan to apply for the same grant again in the future. Don't just accept the money and be done with the grant organization, make a point to invite them into your classroom. Write the success emails about how your classroom is doing thanks to their grant and make them a part of your team. If you can involve the donors in the future, collaborate with them in some capacity, and show them the growth your program has been able to achieve as a result of what they contributed, you will increase your chances of winning another grant from them in the future.
STEP 7: Apply again! Future planning
You will win some and lose some, but no matter what, keep filling out grants when the timing is right. Yes, grant work can use a lot of your personal time. However, it will pay off, and it’s what’s best for the students.
Another option is to spend a day or two with your students completing a grant. Having the students write the grant means a lot to grant review committees. The MESArc Top Flight School has won over 50,000 dollars in grant money over the course of 5 years to make the program what it is today, so keep applying for grants!
STEP 8: Your input
These steps were designed to help educate teachers on an approach to filling out and hopefully winning grants. We also know that this is not the only solution. If you have had success using a different approach, we encourage you to visit your Teacher Hangar and share your own game plan for writing grants. The goal is to spread the hobby by educating our youth. We need the classrooms and tools to make possible, and all input gives our community of teachers the best resources to win those grants.