The Definitive Guide to get your STEM Classroom Funded

This is the ultimate guide to getting your STEM classrooms funded in 2022.

And let me be clear about something: This is NOT your average “5 tips to get funded” nonsense.

Yes, I’ll cover the most important lessons for finding and securing grants.

But, you’re also going to see concrete written examples and be given resources to customize them to your needs.

 

So if you’re looking to bring STEM innovations to your classrooms, you'll love this updated guide.

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Contents

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1

Nail down your goals

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Research the funders

4

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7

List goals and objectives

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2

Arm yourself with data

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Create a solid outline

5

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8

Measure success

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3

Identify your funding options

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Explain the why

6

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Bonus chapter!

Include the right people

In the education world, grant opportunities are abundant with many organizations eager to support educators who are working to make the world a better place with innovative ideas, projects, and learning programs. From non-profits that support new teachers to community foundations that focus on specific geographic areas or fields of study, there is no shortage of potential sources for funding.

 

However, applying for grants as an individual or organization can be challenging. Schools must meet specific criteria for eligibility, follow specific formatting guidelines, and most importantly write persuasive arguments about why their project should be funded.

 

These challenges increase exponentially when you add in the fact that writing a grant about bringing innovative technologies like CRISPR to your classroom require you to have a basic understanding of what CRISPR is, how it works, and how your students can benefit from the knowledge.

 

Nevertheless, with proper research, preparation, and a little guidance from CRISPR Classroom, anyone can successfully find and secure funding to bring innovations to their classroom.  

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Kristina Tatiossian, PhD

Founder

CRISPR Classroom

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How to bring CRISPR to your classroom

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Free Proposal Consulting &
Application Review

Want to bring our CRISPR curriculum and scientists to your classroom(s) but need funds? Our grant experts are here to help!

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Career & Biotechnical education

CHAPTER 1

Nail Down Your Goals

 <30 minutes 

 Easy 

Before you even think about where and how you are going to get funding, you need to identify exactly what your goals are. 

In this section, we're going to get the brainstorming started and I'm going to show you exactly how to put together a compass to guide the rest of your funding journey. 

Let's dive in. 

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Calibrate your compass

Before you even think about where and how you are going to get funding, you need to identify exactly what your goals are to improve your STEM classroom.

 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  •  Why am I applying for a grant?

  • What do I hope to accomplish with the funds I receive?

  • What impact do I want my project to have on my students and community?

  • What am I trying to teach my students with the project I am proposing?

  • What is the larger point I want my students to walk away with?

  • Am I bringing technology into the classroom with the hopes of sparking students’ interest in a particular career path they may not have considered?

You need to be able to clearly articulate not only the “what” but also the “why.” 

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Don't spend too much time on this step; Don’t worry about being articulate or elegant with your writing, simply jot down notes for yourself to act as a compass. You know you’re ready when you can state your goal in one simple sentence.

Exercise 1

Build the compass

Fill in the blanks to generate your 1 sentence goal.

   project name    will introduce    who will benefit?    to    what   , helping them to      secondary goal    and ultimately     primary  goal  .

Example 1

 CRISPR Classroom  will introduce   middle and high school biology students throughout the USA   to    CRISPR technology , helping them to   better understand this recent scientific advancement  and ultimately   presenting them with a new career path: genome engineering .

CHAPTER 2

Arm Yourself with Data

 1-2 hours 

 Moderate 

Funders are attracted to innovative projects that meet the needs of underperforming or disadvantaged populations. 

Use data to prove your students are underperforming or disadvantaged in some way related to the program you intend to implement. 

In this section, we'll talk about different types of data and how you can leverage the data to create highly persuasive arguments. 

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Numbers are compelling, use them

Funders are attracted to innovative projects that meet the needs of underperforming or disadvantaged populations. 

And the best way to create persuasive prose to get funders attracted is by presenting data, but not just any data – choosing the right kind of data matters. The data you choose to highlight in your proposal should illustrate the specific need for enhanced STEM curriculum for your student population and also be relatable to the funder’s mission and goals.

STUDENT

POPULATION

FUNDERS

GOALS

REAL

WORLD IMPACTS

The trifecta statistic: When a descriptor of the student population matches the funders goals to impact real world problems

Example 2

Rydell High School is 75% Hispanic students, Hispanic people make up only about 8% of all STEM jobs despite being about 20% of the total US population and the funders mission is to make STEM careers more accessible to underrepresented minorities. 

Example 3

The students at Rydell High School are majorly (>75%) low-income and they spend less than 50% of their time with hands-on science activities per week, a striking 20% below the national average for similarly low-income schools and 35% below the national average for high-income schools. The funders mission is to improve access to STEM majors for low-income students. 

Exercise 2

Gather your student's stats

Answer the following questions:

What percentage of students in your school or district come from low-income families? What is the racial and ethnic makeup of your student population? How many of your students get accepted to college every year? How many of your students pass standard examinations? What other features of your student population might be used to help you build a case for funding? 

You are more likely to get funded if you use data to highlighting the need for your proposed STEM curriculum. And don't rush this step - In the same way that researching your target funder will help you to tailor your project to their interests and funding priorities, doing research on your student population will also be essential in deciding what data to include in your grant proposal.

Data tip

Statistical data should be from within the last 5-10 years 

Anecdotal data, like quotes, should be from authoritative sources (like school or district leaders)

Both forms of data should resonate strongly with the problem your program will solve and the funder's mission

Ultimately, proving the needs of your student population with data is what will help give your reader a reason to invest in your project.

Once you have the data, you’ll create a story with the facts to appeal to the hearts of the funders; I'll show you how in chapters 5-8.

 

CHAPTER 3

Identify Your Funding Options

 2-3 hours 

 Moderate 

There's no denying it: 

STEM education is a high-demand, high-opportunity field but keeping up with the quickly evolving space can be challenging for educators. 

So for those eager to find grants to fund innovative STEM programs for your students, the next thing we'll do is identify the funding sources that align with you, your students, and your initiatives. 

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title

First and foremost, don’t assume you don’t have the money! Many schools and school districts set aside capital in their budget to be used throughout the year that you can access (sometimes without even an application) to bring innovative programs to your classrooms. Therefore, a good starting point is to go to your school or district administration and ask them about internal funding opportunities from within the approved budget. When you approach administration be specific about the program you would like to implement and why you want to do it.  You might be happily surprised by their response! 

Second, many districts, especially the larger ones, have internal grant programs you can apply for. Turn to administrators and district officials to learn more about district level grant opportunities for your classroom or school. 

Third, look for grants from foundations and organizations. Internet searches are a great way to find organizations that offer grants to teachers which align with your objectives. But, internet searches are by no means the only research channel you have available. In fact, about 90% of US Foundations don't have websites. Therefore, you can also look into contacting organizations directly in your city/district/state or visit your local public library’s reference section and ask for the "Foundation Directory". Some public libraries offer free online access to the database. It lists thousands of American foundations by state, including all the initial information you need to know, such as contact information, how to submit an inquiry, areas of geographic or curriculum focus, etc. For a fee, you may also access the Foundation Directory online

And check out our curated list of over 100 funding sources below. 

Fund selection tip

The more your project and student population has in common with a foundation and its goals, the better.

Foundations come in many types, including family endowments, community foundations, corporate-giving programs, and company-sponsored foundations. Before selecting a foundation, make sure your project matches their objectives because foundations they are most likely to invest in programs with similar philosophies and missions. The more your project has in common with a foundations the better. Commonalities between your program and the foundations may include content area (like STEM), geographical affiliations, religious affiliations, and others. Eventually, in the application itself, you'll want to highlight all the similarities between what you want to bring to your classroom(s) and the funders needs. 

👇🏼 Check out over 100 potential STEM funding opportunities 👇🏼

Know of a grant we don't or have a question about one of the grants listed here?

CHAPTER 4

Research the Funders

 3-4 hours 

 Moderate 

All funders, whether it be at the school or district level, internal grants or external foundations, have their own motivations for wanting to give out money. 

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Don't play the game, play the player

All funders, whether it be at the school or district level, internal grants or external foundations, have their own motivations for wanting to give out money. Learning those motivations will allow you to better align your proposal with their needs and therefore, will help you chances of getting funded. 

Example 4

Your district leaders have a $5,000 budget per semester to award to applicants from within their district. You want to fund a program where you can invite scientists to your classroom, like CRISPR Classroom’s HELIX Connex.

 

In the first draft of your proposal, you write that such a program can help students learn more about diverse scientific disciplines like nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

 

But after speaking with district leaders, you learn that they have an initiative to improve college and career preparedness. As a result, you change your argument to focus more on how meeting scientific professionals humanizes the scientific discipline and helps students learn about diverse scientific careers like project management and medical writing.

 

Ultimately, it’s the same program – HELIX Connex – but the way you formulate your story is now more in tune with the funders needs.

7 factors to review to select a funding opportunity to pursue 

1. Geographic location

Do the funders exclusively or prefer to fund projects within a specific geographic region? Geographic limitations are usually very obvious on fund websites and/or fund descriptions (often it's even in the name). 

2. Stated fund mission

Do a quick check of the funds mission upfront. Can you tell the story of your students and program in a way that strongly ties to the fund's mission?

3. Field of interest

Some funders exclusively or prefer to fund specific content areas, like STEM; sometimes even specific subdomains like robotics, 3D printing, or biotech. The more closely your intended program relates to the content area of interest, the better. 

4. Prior funding activities

To fully understand a funder’s motivation, look at their previous giving history and priorities. For schools or districts, contact administration to Extra credit if you can see the successful proposals from prior years. 

 

For foundations, look at 990 forms to see previous grants. These forms can be accessed by setting up a free account at www.guidestar.org. Look for foundations that have previously given to organizations similar to yours. Note previous award sizes, so that your request is reasonable

5. Size of award

Most grants have an upper limit to the amount of funds you can request. 

6. Connections

7. Deadline

Exercise 3

Analyze your top funding options

Download and complete the form:

Analyze_Funders.pdf

CHAPTER 5

Create a Solid Outline

 3-4 hours 

 Moderate 

Though different funding opportunities will likely have different specific requirements, there are common sections found in most grants that we'll describe here.

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Start with good bones

Before you even think about where and how you are going to get funding, you need to identify exactly what your goals are to improve your STEM classroom.

 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  •  Why am I applying for a grant?

  • What do I hope to accomplish with the funds I receive?

  • What impact do I want my project to have on my students and community?

  • What am I trying to teach my students with the project I am proposing?

  • What is the larger point I want my students to walk away with?

  • Am I bringing technology into the classroom with the hopes of sparking students’ interest in a particular career path they may not have considered?

You need to be able to clearly articulate not only the “what” but also the “why.” 

Untitled design-39.png

Don't spend too much time on this step; Don’t worry about being articulate or elegant with your writing, simply jot down notes for yourself to act as a compass. You know you’re ready when you can state your goal in one simple sentence.

Exercise 1

Build the compass

Fill in the blanks to generate your 1 sentence goal.

   project name    will introduce    who will benefit?    to    what   , helping them to      secondary goal    and ultimately     primary  goal  .

Example 1

 CRISPR Classroom  will introduce   middle and high school biology students throughout the USA   to    CRISPR technology , helping them to   better understand this recent scientific advancement  and ultimately   presenting them with a new career path: genome engineering .