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Sheryl Abshire, CTO of Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said school leaders need to be "gamblers" when it comes to writing – and getting – grants.
Corinne Lestch is a staff reporter covering education for EdScoop and its affiliate public sector technology news websites, FedScoop and StateScoop...
ORLANDO – There's a lot of grant money out there – but getting a slice of the private or federal funding pie can be intimidating and challenging for time-strapped school districts.
Sheryl Abshire, chief technology officer of Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, La., offered her tips for writing standout grants and proposals in order to provide students and teachers with innovative devices and programs they otherwise wouldn't have.
She hosted a session with Glenn Larsen, program director of the National Science Foundation, at the annual Future of Education Technology Conference, which brings together school technology directors to learn about best practices and products.
"The funder wants to know exactly what’s happening in classroom – does the proposal tie into the school's overall plan?" said Abshire, who has been working in schools for more than 20 years. But successful grants also have to demonstrate the funds will help launch something innovative, and not just support an otherwise underfunded program. She also stressed applications need make a clear, financially sound business case.
"You want to talk about support within the school so the funder can see clearly that you didn't just wake up one morning after having a bunch of margaritas and say, 'I'm going to write this grant.' You can't just get technology for the sake of technology."
Here are her top tips of checkpoints and questions to think about before submitting a proposal:
"You need to be a gambler," Abshire said. "If you want a grant, you have to write one." But she added, if you write one, and keep applying, you'll get one.
The Small Business Innovation Research grant program is also a resource for both established companies and startups that want to expose schools to their products – the program, run out of the Department of Education, recently gave up to $1 million to game designers like Zaption and Schell Games for the work they are doing around educational games.
Here are some other resources:
Abshire's grant website: http://Tinyurl.com/grantsabshire
Get Ed Funding http: www.getedfunding.com
Grants for K-12 Hotline newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/grantshotline
Wyatt Kash contributed to this report.