Every Special Education Teacher I have spoken to has their wish list – the stuff they love and really want to add to their classroom. Why doesn’t it happen? Why don’t the teachers get it? In most cases the roadblock has to do with money. Yep – cash, bread, moolah. It’s green – the universal signal for go – but not having it puts a giant stop sign in your path.
At ATIA last week, Westminster’s Heather Koren gave an educational session on a potential solution – mini-grants. I attended this session to see where the conversation went. What I found was that many teachers run into other detours when trying this route – but this discussion also lead to some potential solutions.
Teachers in this sessions lamented that larger grants don’t want to support smaller organizations. Some schools in particularly rural areas don’t have any national retailers or companies that offer grant monies. These educators also talked about difficulties they have in finding grants – for adults with special needs or for early childhood. It was sad to hear the frustrations of these teachers who had already taken the initiative and tried to get funding for their wish list – only to have it derailed.
Perhaps no discussion was as disheartening as the one involving startup projects. Many teachers in the room talked about how they were able to get a grant for the first year of a startup project, only to have their school advise them that no monies were available after that first year to let their program continue.
So how are these problems fixed? First off, it is important to know that what works at one school in one town, may not work at another a few towns away. With that said, some solutions offered included looking to local businesses for financial support – and sharing the funding obligations of a start-up program with a school and securing a commitment in writing that commits to financial sustainability at the end of the first year of the project.
While these answers aren’t necessarily the end-all be-all solutions for the challenges teachers face when trying for a grant, hopefully they stimulate further thought and discussion that will bring more potential solutions to the table.
So – Teachers & Therapists: What further challenges do you find when considering what grant to go for? Administrators: What can teachers do to get financial support from their school for a project? What kinds of things would administrators be willing to help with?