Funding Survival Toolkit | August 2013 Digital Edition

How to Find Money For Technology Purchases--This Year

As another academic year begins, familiar funding sources are offering new money, and new proposals hold out the promise of future funds.

This article, with an exclusive video, originally appeared in T.H.E. Journal's August 2013 digital edition.

Teacher smiling, holding money

Summer is nearly over. Your head is getting back into the school mindset. You have new students; new programs; and new needs for infrastructure, equipment, digital content, professional development, and more. And as always, you are on the lookout for the funds to purchase everything on your list.

So let's look at what has been going on in education technology funding since last May. Some ongoing programs are offering new funds, while new proposals offer the prospect of future funds. Let's talk money!

At Last, Good News About Funding

Promise Neighborhoods grants involve the entire community in turning around schools in high poverty areas. The technology obtained through these grants can be used in schools, in libraries, in nonprofits serving the schools, in mobile implementations, and even with parents.

And there's more good news. The proposal for $300 million worth of grants for the 2013-14 school year is $240 million more than in 2012. Applications will be out soon. Awards will be made and money obligated by Dec. 31.

The president's proposed budget also has some new opportunities for technology purchases that you should know about. Keeping in mind that not all of them may come to fruition, and how much you will have available as a result of their being funded is still an open question, the proposals include the following:

  • $30 billion for school modernization with the goal of modernizing at least 35,000 schools. Obviously, technology will play an important role, something you have all been asking for.
  • $2.56 million for STEM innovation.
  • $300 million for high school redesign, which would include great opportunities to integrate mobile learning, collaboration, and parent involvement in ways that high schools have been unable to achieve until now.

Educators have also been excited about ConnectED, President Obama's initiative that includes a pledge to connect 99 percent of schools across the country to broadband internet within five years. The E-Rate program will be a part of the funding, but additional resources may also come into play.

As the 2012-13 school year came to an end, many of you were despondent at the news that funding would again be cut, with no promise of a light at the end of the tunnel. But many of the states' economies have turned toward the positive. Tax revenues, too, have started to improve. There is still not an abundance of funds, but if you stick to your plan and implement in stages to ensure that there is funding as you go, you may find the 2013-14 school year to be more technology-rich than predicted.


Finally Living Up to Its Promise?

Digital Promise is a program that was actually signed into law by President Bush, but which President Obama has committed to making a reality. According to the website, "Through its work with educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and leading thinkers, Digital Promise supports comprehensive research and development to improve all levels of education and provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy."

Since its launch in 2011, Digital Promise has raised a 4-to-1 match of private to public dollars, including a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Each of the schools is funded to integrate technology into all aspects of the program.

You may be part of the initial implementation of the program. Called the League of Innovative Schools, it's a national coalition of public school districts committed to digital innovation that delivers results for students. The league is made up of 32 school districts and education groups in 21 states that collectively serve more than 2.5 million students. According to communications director Jason Tomassini, districts interested in joining the league should seek a nomination from a member district, then visit the website to view the complete membership criteria and fill out the application form. The deadline for fall 2013 was Aug. 2, but Tomassini says that the League accepts applications twice a year, so district leaders should look for the application process to open again in the winter.

About the Author

Jenny House is principal of Red Rock Reports, which offers the K-12 technology and services community information on funding and funding trends.

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