Funding Technology in Your Classroom

By Eric Braun, coauthor of The Survival Guide for Money Smarts

Funding Technology in Your ClassroomEducational technology (ed tech) can be a boon to classroom learning for myriad reasons. Tech can provide tools for production (like word processing, presentation, and blogging platforms), research (with internet and database access), and organization (through classroom websites, calendar programs, and turn-it-in platforms, for example). Digital libraries can give students access to vast reading materials. Using technology is also a way to go green by working toward a paperless—or nearly paperless—classroom.

Probably the biggest way tech is so helpful is how it can be used to personalize learning. Educational software has proven invaluable for helping students develop all kinds of skills, especially math skills, because it can adapt to a student’s learning level and can challenge the student at an appropriate rate. And teachers can use tech in countless ways to provide personalized interventions.

Of course, hardware like computers, tablets, smartphones, and headphones cost money, and not all schools and school districts have the budget (or the administrative will) to provide those materials. If you need to get resourceful in order to get tech into your classroom, you have options, which I’m dividing into three main categories: personal networking, networking on classroom donation communities, and grant writing.

Personal Networking
As a teacher, you know a lot of people. And generally speaking, most communities have a lot of good will for teachers. So ask around. You can ask for donations of money, but you’ll probably have better luck requesting the materials you need. The stuff you get isn’t likely to be brand-spanking new, but that’s okay.

  • Start by talking to friends and friends of friends. Spread the word about your needs, and don’t be shy. Many people have used laptops and other materials that they haven’t gotten rid of. Reach a wider audience through social media.
  • Teachers who are retiring or moving might have stuff they can’t use anymore or don’t want to move. Ask them!
  • Broaden your search by posting on neighborhood social networks like Nextdoor and on classified ad platforms such as Craigslist.
  • Hang physical ads in places of worship, community centers, and anywhere there’s a local bulletin board—like at a coffee shop.
  • Check out Freecycle, a network of local communities of people giving away (and getting) stuff for free. In their words, “It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” There are two kinds of posts: Offer and Wanted. Browse the Offer posts for what you need, or put up a Wanted post. Membership is free.
  • Ask your alma mater or other nearby colleges or universities. Science and computer science departments use lots of technology and have to keep up with changes, meaning they may have slightly used materials they no longer need.

Networking on Classroom Donation Communities
Ready to get more serious? Polish up your writing skills and make your case on one of these sites:

  • DonorsChoose.org is a popular fundraising platform where a large community of donors are ready to fund your projects. Many teachers ask for tech needs on Donors Choose. For the best results, prepare a strong, positive essay explaining how the project will benefit your students.
  • AdoptAClassroom.org is similar to DonorsChoose.org in that it connects teachers with willing donors.
  • Digital Wish was created specifically to get ed tech into schools and is a great resource. Teachers can make a wish and then reach out to a community of supporters who may buy items or contribute cash toward them. Registering for Digital Wish automatically makes you eligible for matching grants, and you also get access to a database of additional grants that you can apply for. They even have a guidelines section to help you more effectively reach out to potential donors.

Grant Writing
Many grants are available to the enterprising teacher. Not sure where to begin? Here are some ideas:

  • Grants.gov provides a database of federal funding opportunities. Search for technology grants by typing in keywords and/or sorting through categories. It is not the most user-friendly site in the world, but persistence pays!
  • The Foundation Center is another website where you can search for grant opportunities in different areas (and it’s cleaner and easier to use).
  • GrantWatch is another place to search for grants.
  • If you’re a member of NEA, you can search for grant opportunities at the NEA Foundation.
  • Online monthly newspaper eSchool News is a great place to stay up to date on all things ed tech. They frequently run stories about grant opportunities, like this one on new opportunities for 2019.
  • For the social media–minded, you can even track funding opportunities via the Technology Grants account on Twitter.

Whatever methods you use to bolster the technology in your classroom or school, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. You can make a stronger case when you describe your students’ needs and barriers and explain specifically how the tech will help your kids. Try to avoid requesting new or trendy items unless you know exactly how they fit into your approach and curriculum. Focus more on the kids than the tech.

Ed tech website The Journal has a good roundup of tips specifically for writing grants, but they can be helpful for community fundraising too. If at first you don’t succeed, be patient—and be diligent!

Author Eric BraunEric Braun writes and edits books for readers of all ages, specializing in academic and social-emotional topics. Books he has worked on have won awards and honors, including the Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, a Foreword Book of the Year Gold Award, a Benjamin Franklin Award, and many others. A recent McKnight Artist Fellow and an Aspen Summer Words scholar for his fiction, he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

The Survival Guide for Money SmartsEric is the coauthor of The Survival Guide for Money Smarts: Earn, Save, Spend, Give.


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1 Response to Funding Technology in Your Classroom

  1. francisashis says:

    Excellent tips for educationist.

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