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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E


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Chapter 13: Some Innovative Sources of Funds

This chapter contains examples of a variety of innovative sources of funds and other resources. As shown in the following scenarios, innovative people can think of all kinds of ways to obtain needed resources.

Moursund, D.G. (2002). Obtaining resources for technology in education: A how-to guide for writing proposals, forming partnerships, and raising funds. Copyright (c) David Moursund, 2002.


Section Headings for Chapter 13

Borrowing School Equipment

Staff Development at Staff Meetings

School District Staff Development Funds

Software Preview Center

Hiring Practices

Bonds for Building or Remodeling Schools

Bonds for School District Technology

Reallocation of Library Resources

Parent Teacher Organization

School Site-Based Councils


People tend to think of proposal writing in terms of writing large proposals to various federal and state agencies or to private foundations. However, there are many other sources of resources. This chapter contains examples of a variety of innovative sources of funds and other resources. As shown in the following scenarios, innovative people can think of all kinds of ways to obtain needed resources.

Borrowing School Equipment

Ellen is an elementary school teacher interested in computer technology. Her goal is that all students in her school should develop a reasonable level of computer literacy before they move on to middle school. She has read the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for students, and she feels that students in her school can meet these goals. She has identified many barriers to this goal. One of the major barriers is a lack of knowledge on the part of teachers in her school.

Ellen is willing to devote some of her personal time during weekends, vacations, and summer to help her fellow teachers learn about computers. However, many of the teachers do not have appropriate computer facilities at home.

Ellen's solution to this problem is to write a proposal that seeks permission for teachers to borrow the school's equipment on weekends, vacations, and during the summer. This proposal is written to the administrations of both the school and school district. In the proposal, Ellen agrees to provide free instruction to teachers who borrow equipment. She argues that many school districts throughout the nation have used such loan programs.

Once the initial program is successfully implemented, Ellen expands it by arranging to loan computer equipment to students for home use. She encourages students to help their parents and siblings learn to use the equipment.

Staff Development at Staff Meetings

Pat's school has excellent computer facilities, which many students and some faculty have learned to use. Unfortunately, many of the faculty neither use the facilities nor appreciate the range of knowledge and skills students have developed. Many of the teachers do not know how to encourage students to use the school's educational technology facilities.

Pat and several other teachers conceive of the idea of having five-minute demonstrations on student computer use at regular faculty meetings. In a short demonstration, students would show what they can do and describe how it affects their academic pursuits. A student might demonstrate some of the steps in desktop publishing, perhaps using desktop presentation tools. Another student might demonstrate online gathering of data in a science lab, or doing research using the Web. Still another student might show some of the contents of an electronic portfolio being developed for a math class.

In this case, the sought-after resource is mainly the valuable time of the school staff. Pat wants the staff members to contribute five minutes per staff meeting to broadening their knowledge of student computer use.

This same type of students demonstrations project is suitable for proposing to PTO and school board members. Indeed, it can be effective at almost any meeting of adults. However, the goals might be different. For example, such demonstrations at school board meetings might be part of a campaign to get the school board to allocate more resources to computer technology. At a meeting of a civic group, the goal might be to convince the group to do some fund-raising for your school.

School District Staff Development Funds

Virtually every school district has a staff development budget and allocates one or more days each year to staff development. In some districts, these staff development funds are allocated to the individual schools, so decision making occurs at the school level. In other cases, funds are allocated directly to the individual teachers, who must write brief proposals to get their share of the funds. In any event, a school or school district's staff development efforts represent a sizable resource that you might cause to be allocated to better fit your perceived needs.

In the school district where Sandra lives, many teachers have a computer at home. Sandra is a computer whiz, equally comfortable with hardware and software on both of the major computer platforms. The school district strongly encourages teachers to purchase computers and allows them to acquire computers at the "school buy" price. This situation gives Sandra an idea. She notes that each teacher in the district is allocated $300 per year for professional development activities and that few of the teachers use their home computers to access the Internet for "work" purposes.

She does some needs assessment and finds that the teachers do not use their home computers to access the Internet because they do not have modems or know how to use them. She also learns that the school district has dial-in access to its Internet connection and provides free Internet service to teachers.

In conjunction with a couple of her friends, Sandra sets up a small business. One part of the business provides a free workshop for teachers that explains the advantages of using the Internet from one's home. The business also offers information on how to write a proposal to get the school district to pay for Internet training and a modem. The business offers a $250 package deal that includes a modem, some print materials, and personal in-home Internet training. The business is designed to pay Sandra and her fellow workers relatively good wages for the work they do.

Software Preview Center

Beth enjoys trying out new software and sharing the results with her fellow teachers. Her small school district does not have a paid computer coordinator. Beth proposes to establish and operate a district-wide software preview center. She agrees to do the work on a volunteer basis. There are some modest costs to the district, such as postage and clerical help.

The general idea is for the center to be located in Beth's school. She will use the school's computer facilities and students to preview the software, and the school's library to store it. She will solicit software that interests her or that she thinks will interest other teachers in the district. Because her solicitations are backed up by her title and position as director of the school district's software preview center, she is likely to succeed in obtaining software.

Part of what Beth is seeking is the director's title and permission to use district stationery--two valuable resources. The school district can provide her with the director's title at no cost. Both the school district and Beth benefit from this arrangement. If this project is really successful, it could grow into a paid position for Beth.

Hiring Practices

The High Tech School District hires a number of new teachers, school administrators, and support staff each year. These replace personnel who have retired or left their positions for other reasons.

The district has a goal that all employees will be functionally computer literate at a level that is fully supportive of their particular jobs. For example, the custodian is to understand that computers can be damaged by harsh cleaning reagents and that they require reliable power sources. The principals are to understand the needs of teachers working to integrate computer use throughout the curriculum.

The school district has developed and implemented a hiring policy to support its computer literacy goals. A committee has analyzed the computer literacy requirements of every position in the school district, and the requirements are updated yearly. The knowledge, skills, and experience to meet these requirements are part of the posted qualifications for every job that becomes available in the school district. In addition, these computer literacy specifications are used to help guide the district's human resources department.

This strategy can be implemented at minimal cost. The initial effort to analyze the various jobs in the school district and determine computer literacy requirements may take considerable time. However, this can be part of the ongoing human resources development of the school district. Each time a position opens up in the district, the computer literacy requirements for that position can be reanalyzed and updated.

Bonds for Building or Remodeling Schools

Suppose a school district is planning to propose a bonding issue that will pay for building a new school or extensive remodeling of existing schools.

New schools and remodeled schools should contain extensive facilities for educational technology. For example, every classroom should be wired or cabled for telecommunications so that every student will eventually be able to use telecommunications extensively and routinely.

It is common to include computer hardware, software, curriculum materials, and staff development in these types of school bonds. A few determined parents and teachers can often make this happen. In these circumstances, a modest effort may bring a very large amount of money (perhaps millions of dollars) into instructional technology.

On a smaller scale, each school district has funds for maintenance and minor remodeling. Some of these funds might be allocated to making classrooms more suitable for using desktop presentation facilities. Small changes in the lighting and light switches can make a significant difference.

Bonds for School District Technology

A large number of school districts throughout the country have passed bond levies to purchase computer facilities. Details on whether this is allowed--and what can be purchased with such funds--vary considerably among different states. If the laws allow it, a district might be seeking funds for a combination of hardware, software, networking, electrical wiring, and staff development.

A large amount of funds from a bond levy can provide a big boost to a district's computer technology program. However, this approach is also fraught with difficulties. Typically, the bonds are paid back over a large number of years. Meanwhile, the money is spent and the computer facilities become outdated in a relatively small number of years. What happens after five year, when almost all of the computers in a district are beginning to wear out and are outdated?

A bond levy may be rooted in a long-range strategic play for technology in the district. The play should include provisions for what happens when the new facilities begin to become antiquated. For example, the play might call for a gradual increase in computer technology as a line item in the district budget. The school board would commit itself to this gradual change as part of the overall effort to help all students become computer literate.

Reallocation of Library Resources

Over the years, the scope of the traditional school library has broadened--libraries have become media centers. It is now common for a school library to offer print materials, tapes, audio CDs, computer software, CD-ROMs, and access to various online computer services. Funds that once were used to purchase books and magazines are reallocated for use in purchasing CD-ROMs and online magazine services.

A library media center will likely contain several computers. It may also contain video and digital cameras for loan to classrooms and perhaps to individual students and teachers.

Finally, a library media center may be an excellent source of one-on-one training related to online searches and the appropriate use of the other library media facilities. Many librarians have become library media specialists, particularly skilled in using computers and computer networks to retrieve information.

[Note: From time to time I have mentioned this set of ideas in editorials written for Learning and Leading with Technology, published by the International Society for Technology in Education. Some readers have pointed out to me that library-media budgets have been cut to the bare bones and then further in many school districts. Thus, the library-media center may have greater need for resources than does the school's IT program.]

Parent Teacher Organization

Many schools have active PTOs. Such organizations are a type of partnership between parents and the school. Each contributes toward the operation of the partnership, and each benefits from it.

Many PTOs have significantly helped their school in the field of technology in education. The most common sources of help are one-shot or continuing efforts to raise money for hardware and software. Sometimes these efforts are only a part of the PTO's overall fund-raising activities, and sometimes they are aimed specifically at obtaining funds for technology.

The PTO of High Tech Elementary School holds a Computer Fun Night one evening each year. This annual fund-raising event has grown into a large and well-orchestrated affair. There is an admission price, and many tickets are purchased merely as a donation by people and companies not directly associated with the school. Students use the school's desktop-publishing resources to develop a newsletter and flyers to market the event. They sell ad space in the newsletter to local companies.

The Computer Fun Night includes the sale of food items donated by parents and local companies, prizes donated by both local and other companies, entertainment, demonstrations of computer-related technology, raffles, and other activities. For a modest fee, parents can obtain a computer printout of a picture taken with a digital camera and processed on the spot. The Computer Fun Night is a lively event, drawing coverage in the local media.

Students demonstrating their computer skills and displaying the products of their computer knowledge are fundamental to the success of Computer Fun Night. Many students are involved. There is ample opportunity for them to sit at a computer with their parents and show them how to use it.

School Site-Based Councils

Many schools now have site-based councils that help in the governance of the school. The membership of these councils typically includes some teachers, school administrators, parents, students, and perhaps other people not directly affiliated with the school. The following description is based on a recent site-based council meeting. Some details have been modified to protect the identity of the school and council members.

A few years ago I was invited to make a presentation to the site-based council of a middle school (grades 6&endash;8). My presentation was designed to increase the council members' knowledge of the field of technology in education and provide a little guidance on where they might lead their school.

I began my presentation by having the attendees introduce themselves, state their relationship to the council, and say what they would like graduates of their school to know and be able to do with respect to technology. While this used up nearly 15 minutes of my allotted time, it was undoubtedly the most important part of the presentation. The pattern of their responses can be summarized as follows:

  1. School personnel were mostly conservative about expectations for technology use in school; they exhibited widely varying levels of computer knowledge.
  2. Parents had less conservative expectations about technology use and had higher expectations for graduates of the school.
  3. Students had still higher expectations for graduates of the school. What they lacked in knowledge they more than made up for in enthusiasm and sincerity.

After my presentation, one of the students described a visit she had made to a neighboring middle school. The two middle schools are served by the same high school. She talked about a number of the exciting computer-related activities going on at the neighboring middle school. She showed samples of a newspaper that the students develop and desktop publish. She noted that, on average, students at this neighboring school knew far more about computers than students in her school. She then presented a list of hardware and software products she felt her school needed, and she asked the site-based council to approve funding for her proposal.

There was a great deal of laughter. One of the council leaders indicated that her request would be taken under consideration. Several parents and teachers whispered comments along the lines of "welcome to the real world."

Next on the agenda was a report from council members who had visited schools in another town--a town not noted for its high-quality education or even its interest in education. This group noted that in terms of technology in education, their own middle school was far behind schools in the town they visited. They said they were both surprised and embarrassed by how their own school had not kept up with changes in this field.

After two extensions to the length of the meeting, the net result was that the site-based council voted to immediately spend $4,000 for hardware and software!

Indeed, welcome to the "real world" of school politics! If I had to guess, I would say that I had witnessed a carefully orchestrated event that had achieved its aims. Moreover, it laid the groundwork for future technology-related funding requests. Several weeks later I was informed that the school had supported several of its teachers in attending a regional computers-in-education conference.


  1. Select two or three of the scenarios or examples from this chapter. Analyze these scenarios and assess how they conform to the components required in a formal, competitive grant-writing situation. Compare and contrast how some of these components are actually included in these less formal situations.
  2. Examine an organization such as a school. Make a list of existing resources whose use might be modified to better support technology in education. Develop a brief proposal on how to achieve such a modification of resource use in the school.

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