Do you want to implement a new STEM curriculum in your school and/or improve upon the way your school currently teaches science and math? Every student deserves the latest, most innovative tools, materials, and inquiry-based learning curriculum, but unfortunately a lot of schools just don’t have the budget to pay for an all-new set of curriculum and supplies. However, there are many STEM grants for teachers designed as seed funding to help implement new STEM resources.
Who offers these kinds of grants? Individuals, corporations, and nonprofits all over the United States and the world are interested in improving STEM studies. Why? Because the future of innovation and job growth depends on the next generation of scientists and engineers. The economy, job growth, and technological innovation are all great reasons why many organizations are interested in supporting effective STEM instruction and more innovative STEM curriculum in our schools.
Finding and Applying for Grants
If you are a teacher or principal looking for a grant, we recommend searching locally. A simple Google search for "The [Your City/Town] Public Education Foundation" will often guide you to opportunities for STEM grants for teachers.
Parents who work for large companies and have children who attend your school are a great resource to ask about their company’s interest in STEM education. This is true even if the company is not based in your community. Often companies are even willing to increase their award amount by as much as double if an employee champions the project internally.
A third option is to search for business and industry names in your community or contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a foundation. Oftentimes businesses with more than 250 employees will have money set aside on an annual basis for investment in community education initiatives. These grants will usually award amounts ranging between $5,000 and $25,000 to individual classrooms annually. If you are looking for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, be prepared to put together a grant writing team and look to federal organizations like The National Science Foundation.
In addition to finding grants, you’ll also need to know about applying for them. The organizations funding this grant money want to know that you and your school will make good use of their funds, and so the application process usually includes a letter of recommendation and/or letter of intent as well as a detailed and compelling grant proposal.
Writing a Grant Proposal
Remember, these companies and foundations want to help. They would love to fund your STEM curriculum, but they need to know that you have a clear need and a concrete plan for implementing their funding. This is perhaps the most important step to communicate that you’ll give your students the very best opportunities available to them with this funding. This means explaining exactly how you intend to use your grant money if you are chosen. So, in addition to stressing the community and educational development and improvement you’ll be able to affect, you’ll also need to go into detail about the STEM curriculum you’ve chosen and why. This means you’ll need to have researched the curricula and resources available to you, and you’ll need to be able to give specific details about how it will help your students, your school, and your community.
For example, if you were applying for a grant with the intent of implementing KnowAtom’s STEM curriculum, you would need to discuss how the program shows students the relevance of science and encourages them to pursue studies and careers in science and engineering fields. Including specifics about how the program teaches students practical critical thinking skills through hands-on learning will help show how your school and students will benefit from this particular STEM curriculum. The more specific you can be, the better.
Above all, pay attention to all of the requirements to qualify for the grant you’re applying for. If you have any doubts, reach out to the grant’s program manager, who will be more than happy to explain the grant and give you pointers specific to what they are looking to fund.
Each grant will have its own application requirements, but the following outline covers what most grants will look for.
Project Background: Includes statement of need and scope of impact on your students.
Past work: Anything that validates your approach. For instance, those applying for grants for KnowAtom can cite its STEM industry awards and proven results on standardized state testing.
Action Plan: What are the steps to implement your plan once you have the money?
Budget: How much money are you looking for and what are the line items you’re spending it on?
Sustainability (optional but encouraged): How will your community take on the future upkeep of anything you implement with this grant?
If for any reason your school is not eligible for one grant, move on to the next and spend your time and effort on making the case for your school, your community, and the STEM curriculum you've chosen with grants for which you qualify.