Your Wish Granted with Education Grants

Replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee
“By a show of hands, how many of you have visited the Parthenon in Nashville?” I asked a second grade class one day in the library. Even though my school is 40 miles from the full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, students’ hands remained in their laps. This simple question exemplified a need. My students, who are eager to discover the wonders of the world, may never have the chance. Students need unique learning experiences that will prepare and motive them for a brighter future.

Our VR corner was made possible thanks to donations.
I asked myself, How could students engage in experiential learning without leaving the school? Virtual reality (VR) technology creates experiences not otherwise possible, but a typical VR system costs hundreds of dollars. Thus, my quest for funding began. I sought donations from the online charity, Much to my amazement, donors funded my request for a VIVE VR System. Now, students can visit the Parthenon in Greece from inside the library.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), “if children are to be prepared for their future, they must have access to information and learn to use it in meaningful and productive ways.” ALA recommends that all school library media programs should be adequately funded to ensure that they include up-to-date collections in both print and electronic formats. Yet, many school libraries operate on insufficient budgets. Even adequately funded school libraries find it difficult to purchase “big ticket items” such as VR systems, computers, 3D printers, and robotics kits. Fortunately, there are funding prospects to enhance school libraries’ services and resources.

My library has received money from a variety of sources, and I continue to explore and pursue funding opportunities. In addition to the VIVE VR System, I have had five other projects funded on an LED Smart TV, littleBits electronic building blocks, iPad Minis, a green screen kit, and a Sphero STEM Robot.

The National Education Association (NEA) awarded my elementary library $1,000 to purchase picture books that reflect diversity. NEA also offers a Student Achievement Grant for up to $2000. NEA bestowed my library financial backing to acquire a portable STEM cart. The mobile science lab offers the materials teachers need to implement engaging, hands-on lessons.

Finding Funding

KEA's RAA Grant supported our door decorating event.
Apply for grants offered by your state-level school librarians association. For instance, the Kentucky Association of School Librarians offers grants to its members. For example, the Donna Hornsby Joint Technology Project Award awards $400 to be used jointly by the library media specialist(s) and teacher(s) applicants for the purpose of promoting the use of technology by teachers and students.

Opportunities could also exist from your state education association. For example, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) budgets funds to support Read Across America (RAA) events. My school received support from KEA to host a Dr. Seuss themed door decorating challenge. Program funds were used to buy each classroom who participated a set of gently used books from Scholastic.

Look for funding from your state’s department of education. My school’s Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) was awarded a mini-grant through the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools program for a student-led project centered on water drainage issues around our school. The grant also allowed the STLP team to take a field trip to Lost River Cave where naturalists helped students conduct field experiments.

There are a number of grants available to members of the American Association of School Librarians.

Grant Writing Grows Experts

Whenever my school library has a Scholastic Book Fair, students make a wish list. I remind students that they will probably not get everything listed. This does not stop them from scrutinizing the merchandise and making their top picks. Students’ efforts make it that much sweeter if they are able to purchase a book. Similarly, your school library will not receive every grant for which you apply. My library does not. Still, the work that goes into pursuing funding for a project will give you insight into students’ needs, the latest books, and innovative technology. Your hunt for grant opportunities will do more than help you acquire new materials. It will give you an expertise no price tag can match.

Works Cited

"School Library Funding Press Kit", American Library Association, April 20, 2010. (Accessed September 21, 2018)
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