Saturday, August 29, 2015

To Grant Or Not To Grant?

They take a lot of time and effort and they may not pay off, but when they do grants can change everything. Grant funding can make the difference in a educational program for students. Long ago I discovered their powerful impact, when I received a Target grant to purchase books for my library in a low income neighborhood. The second grant I applied for, I thought was a long shot, but it paid off. I read about a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Grant to learn more about Thomas Day, an African American entrepreneur who lived in North Carolina in the 1800's. I wrote an essay explaining why I felt learning more about Thomas Day would benefit my library program. I wrote from the heart, explaining that I wanted to build a multicultural library where many voices could be heard especially the voices rarely heard in History books. My essay was accepted and I received a grant that paid for a two week stay in North Carolina, while I completed a fellowship. I traveled to museums looked at artifacts, and learned more about African American entrepreneurs in the 1800's.

My district has an educational fund, so teachers can write grants to request funds. I wrote a grant to receive Playaways for my library. That year I transfered to another campus, so the librarian taking my place got the honor of placing the order to purchase the Playaways. Typically grant materials stay at the campus where the grant was written. I wrote another grant for Playaways at my new campus and it too was funded.
Image result for playaway
But sometimes it doesn't workout. I've poured my heart and time into several applications for funding only to hear sorry, we are not funding your grant, but try again next year. This has happened more often recently, because I apply for every grant that's applicable to my library program. Last year, when we started the makerspace in my elementary library, there was no budget. Grants paid for a lot of the products in the space. A Donor's Choose grant paid for four Raspberrypi computers and accessories. This site creates an "on-line campaign" for the educational items you would like your students to have, and once the funds are raised Donor's Chose sends you the items from Amazon.

As I sat up the makerspace last year, I invested a lot of time and energy to write what I thought was a beautiful proposal to receive a Fund for Teacher's Grant. I wanted to travel to New York City to learn more about 3D printing and makerspaces. It wasn't meant to be last summer, I was told thanks but no thanks. I stayed home and read books about makerspaces instead. I won't write the same proposal, but I will apply again. Hearing "no" is not going to stop me from applying.

My most recent grant was from the Friends of the Library group in my district for four Ollie robots. My Students love the sphero, and there is always a long line to program and control sphero, Ollies will be a great addition.

Makerspace tools cost a lot and it's just one section in a library. Grants can go a long way to make it happen @ the library!

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