Okay. Now that we have your attention, know that this isn’t just any money. It’s money for K-12 schools to get technology. Having a high-tech classroom is as important as a no. 2 pencil these days. However, very few schools have the extra cash to add technology and keep it current.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of assistance available. This comes in the form of grants, awards, contests and other programs. However, you can’t just put your hand out and expect money to magically appear. You’ll need a program that will be willing to fund your school or project. Of course, you need to know where to find those programs and how to apply.
Government grants are available, but there are also many companies out there willing to help put technology into classrooms. Schools can even apply for partnerships and pilot programs. Why would a mega-large company want to help one school? For some organizations, it’s an investment in the future of technology. For others, it’s an investment in their product lineup.
For AMX, it’s a bit of both. The company currently offers the Innovation Grant, which is designed to put AMX RMS (Resource Management Suite) remote management software into schools across the country. This perk allows users to easily troubleshoot A/V equipment in the classroom, all without disrupting the school’s day or budget.
“We offer products in the K-12 space, like many competitors. In most cases, that’s where the offering ends for most people,” says Michael Peveler, vice president of education sales at AMX. “But there’s an on-going cost to maintaining, managing and monitoring that technology. We want to step up and offer to solve some of the problems for our K-12 end users.”
Samsung agrees about giving back to the community, but considers some of these programs to be an investment in the entire technology category. Through the Solve for Tomorrow program, Samsung is hoping to raise an interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). “Recent studies have shown that U.S. students are not advancing in STEM subjects at the same pace as in some other countries,” says Reuben Staines, PR and strategic content for Samsung’s enterprise and integrated marketing communications department. “Samsung aims to raise enthusiasm for STEM education, demonstrate how STEM can positively impact local communities and reduce the technology gap in classrooms.”
However nice a company may seem, know that grants, awards and other programs are also great publicity for a company. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. For instance, a company like AMX gets to give to the community, but also thinks of the Innovation Grant as a great way to build long-term customers. “From a selfish standpoint, schools talk to each other,” says Peveler. “This type of program also opens the door to exposing what we can do for other customers.”
So how do you go about getting some of that money for your school?
Have a Plan
Once you decide to apply for a grant, it’s not just about filling out your contact info and a desired amount. You’ll need a plan, which may involve a committee and meetings. Organizations don’t just give out free money. They want to give it to schools with a specific and possibly unique lesson plan.
While it’s important to take your time, know that some grants and contests have deadlines. Others have specific requirements and paperwork that’s needed. “Incomplete applications are often the biggest mistakes,” says Staines. “For winning submissions to rise to the top, they must be complete, insightful and example-driven to provide judges with a complete picture of how STEM can improve their classrooms and communities.”
Also, honesty is really the best policy. Peveler says that a lot of schools try to hide behind the perception that they’ve got it all under control. “Be honest about what your situation really is and be willing to look at changing the way you’ve always done things,” he says. “The technology and the world around them is changing significantly and the processes have to change as the technology allows it.”
Even if you aren’t given a cash award, there are a variety of manufacturers offering the aforementioned pilot programs and partnerships with schools. Partnerships often involve purchased or discounted systems, while pilots often allow a school to try out systems in a few classrooms to see if it fits the curriculum and the school’s needs.
The bottom line is that there are a slew of opportunities out there for the taking. You just need to know where to look, as well as what information you’ll need to apply. For a complete list of current grants being offered, as well as tips, requirements and web links, check out our slideshow of K-12 Technology Grants: A Guide to Getting Money for 2013-2014—and good luck!