With school funding stretched thin, teachers need to take the lead in seeking out alternate funding opportunities

How can schools, classrooms, and teachers receive additional funding? Money is out there, but it’s not always easily accessible. Add in that administrators are bombarded by teacher requests for funding for various programs and--with limited time to research, validate, and explore the many options available--are often left feeling wary and overwhelmed. What if the new product fails to deliver? Or goes unused? The pressure to spend wisely is immense and can delay funds being allocated.

As a company comprised of former teachers, we’re more sensitive than most to the budgeting constraints faced by schools. While we can’t wave a magic wand and make the stress disappear, we can offer you some options to receive funding for programs that matter and make a difference. Below are seven different options to help bring funding into your classroom, introduce new opportunities to your students and, hopefully, make life a little less stressful.

Funding Option #1: General Budget

Need a classroom resource? Request it in the school budget. We know—shocking revelation. But stay with us. If you find a resource you think is a winner, even if you can’t receive funding immediately, get it on the radar for the next funding cycle—and keep pushing.

Helping funds go further: USATestprep invoices Net 30 to allow a full month before an invoice comes due. We also offer site licenses that give every teacher and student at a school access for 12 consecutive months.

Funding Option #2: Title 1 Funds

Title 1 funds are used for supplemental services for school districts with large concentrations of low-income students. Title 1 funds can be used to improve curriculum, for professional development and instructional activities, for summer programs and take home resources, and for technology and online learning. How Title 1 funds are used depends on the school, but the Department of Education notes that Title 1 funds often go to bolster instruction in reading and math. An early request to reserve funds for any program you desire is key, but stay in close touch with your school’s funding administrator as they often look for ways to spend remaining Title 1 funds at the end of a school year.

We’re approved: USATestprep provides online learning and assessment for Title 1 schools nationwide.

Funding Option #3: Donor’s Choose

The Donor’s Choose tagline is “Support a Classroom. Build a Future.” And that’s exactly what this site does. The site empowers public school teachers to request materials and experiences for their students. Similar to Kickstarter, these programs are then funded by companies and individuals via the site.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. USATestprep has seen many of our teachers funded for our state standards-aligned resources through the Donor’s Choose program.

Funding Option #4: Cost Sharing Between Teachers

We’re more sensitive than most to the fact that teachers are too often forced to pay for desired programs out of their own pockets. While never ideal, cost-sharing among your colleagues can be a way to defray the costs and lessen the impact on any one individual. A side benefit is that cost sharing a program often leads to collaboration among teachers.

Proven results: Many USATestprep teachers began by cost sharing our product and—as they were able to demonstrate the impact on student learning and test performance—found their school willing to pick up costs.

Funding Option #5: PTSA Funds

The relationships between Parent-Teacher-Student Associations and schools varies widely from school to school. While funds are often earmarked for important items such as classroom technology, the PTSA doesn’t work for the school—it’s the voice for children and families. Approach your PTSA with a firm vision of why your request is relevant to the needs of your students—and how you expect it to make a difference, including your plan to track metrics and success.

Show me the data: The more you can do to show you have a cohesive, thought-out plan with measurable data, the more likely you are to have your request granted.

Funding Option #6: Grants

Grants come from a myriad of sources including the government, private companies, schools, charities, individuals, and small businesses. Dollar amounts can range from $100 to $10,000 and beyond. The good news is that grants are available to cover almost every imaginable educational need. The challenging part of grants it that they’re competitive and time-consuming. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. It does mean you may want to start by looking into small, local grants that are focused on your community. Partnering with colleagues to apply for grants so the burden isn’t completely on you is another great option.

A quick search of the web will bring up a myriad of grants for which you’re eligible to apply. Teach.com offers a list of grants for professional development, classroom enrichment/student achievement/STEM, and humanities. Government grants lists grants for teachers. And, again, remember to search for state/local grants such as 27 Teachers Grants for Georgia.

Funding Option #7: Ask for a Discount

You’ve heard the saying, “It never hurts to ask?” This holds true for garage sales and educational vendors (no other correlation there). We’re pretty confident speaking on behalf of all vendors when we say that we want your business. And if a vendor has a quality offering, they’ll trust that once you use a product and see the benefits attached to it, you’ll stay. Don’t be afraid to ask if a company is running any special offers or if they’re able to work with you on pricing. Products can’t be given away but there’s generally a little wiggle-room available to help someone start or stay with a program.

Small School Discount: USATestprep offers a discount to schools with less than 200 students--would you know to ask? Don’t be shy! Ask any vendor what standard discounts they offer--and what special offers they can put together just for you.

As a company founded by two teachers with numerous former teachers on staff, we strive to bring success into every classroom nationwide. If you have questions on how to bring USATestprep to your classroom, contact us. A real person will answer the phone and we’ll talk  to you about available options.