Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Inspiring Idea from a Teacher who Cares!

Check out this story from about a high school teacher in California and what he did to raise funds for his classes...
In tests for teacher Tom Farber's high school class, students can demonstrate their mastery of calculus and find out where to get braces or even a haircut. Squeezed by classroom budget cuts, the Rancho Bernardo High School teacher is selling ads on his exams to cover the costs of printing them. "It raises money for the teachers and it's amusing for the kids, so it seems like a win-win," said Luke Shaw, 18, a student at the suburban San Diego, California, school. Parents and administrators also praise Farber, 47, for his creative classroom funding, but he doesn't want it to become the norm. "My intention is, [selling ads] is a stopgap measure," said Farber. "I don't want to be doing this year after year." Instead, he says, government must do more to help educators provide what students need.

Farber started letting parents and local businesses sponsor tests this fall after learning budget cuts would limit his in-school printing allowance -- tracked by the school's copy machines -- to $316 for the year. The cost of printing quizzes and tests for his 167 students will easily be more than $500, he said. That meant Farber, whose courses prepare students for the Advanced Placement exam, would have to give fewer or shorter tests, or find money. Farber, who says 90 percent of his students got a 5 -- the top score -- on AP exams last year, said skimping wasn't an option. "It has to be a certain quality, or they won't be ready," he said. So Farber, who says he'd never asked for money from parents in his 18 years of high school teaching, pitched the ad idea to parents at a September back-to-school night. For checks made to the math department -- $10 a quiz, $20 a test or $30 for a final exam -- they could insert an inspirational quote -- their own or someone else's -- or a business advertisement at the bottom of the first page. Of the seven to run so far -- one per test or quiz -- five were quotes, and two were ads from local businesses connected to the parents or someone close. "Brace yourself for a great semester! Braces by Henry, Stephen P. Henry D.M.D.," read one of the ads in small type at the bottom of a quiz's first page.

Farber said orders took off after recent media reports. He's collected more than $300, and he believes he'll top $1,000, with some ad buyers paying more than required. All amounts beyond his shortfall will cover colleagues' printing costs, he said. Farber said students and parents have gotten a kick out of the sponsorships. Student Scott Robison, 18, said: "I liked it because all the teachers complain about budget cuts, and he did something about it. It hasn't hurt in any way." Luke Shaw's father, Jay Shaw, said he wants to sponsor a test next semester. And while Jay Shaw praised Farber's idea, "It's just sad it came to the point where he needs to do that," he said. Farber said he doesn't want quiz ads "to become the standard." "What I'm doing now is ... dealing with the economic situation and making sure kids get what they need," Farber said. "Teachers shouldn't have to scrounge for funding. To me, this is what our government is for, to provide necessities, and that's why we pay taxes."

But California's budget crisis has forced Farber's school district, Poway Unified, to cut costs, district Superintendent Don Phillips said. The California Federation of Teachers says the state cut more than $4 billion in education spending this year. Phillips said that when the district sought to chop $11 million from its $265 million annual budget, it wanted to keep teachers but cut other areas. Among the things to go was 30 percent to 40 percent of Poway schools' materials spending -- including copying. Phillips praised Farber's ad idea as creative. But he said district officials are weighing whether to set guidelines, especially for business ads. Farber said he'd prefer to keep ads to local "mom-and-pop" operations. He's accepting one from hair salon Fantastic Sam's, noting that although it's part of a chain, the store that's buying the ad is locally owned. Farber and Phillips said they don't know of any Poway teachers wanting to replicate the ad idea, but they said educators there have long spent out-of-pocket for supplies. Susan Carmon of the National Education Association said a 2003 study on the issue found U.S. teachers spent an average of $450 of their own money yearly for school resources. "You can only imagine -- with tighter school budgets in almost every state this year -- that this number can only get higher," said Carmon, the NEA's associate director for teacher quality. Fred Glass, the California Federation of Teachers' communications director, said things could get worse for teachers in the state, with California considering $2.5 billion in mid-year education cuts. Glass said he hopes Farber's ad selling "will underscore for disinterested observers that this [funding shortfall] can't go on." Glass said he wouldn't like to see any classroom ads. "The student needs not to be distracted by anything on the test. This is not instructionally sound," he said. But he said he doesn't blame Farber.
"This teacher shouldn't be put in this position," Glass said. To those who don't like his idea, Farber suggests asking legislators to better fund
education or writing a check to a school. But he said most of the feedback has been positive. "One person said, 'Too bad you're not a bank, because you might qualify for $700 billion,' " he said. "I thought that was pretty clever."

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Great National Funding Options!

Not all of these will work for every Traveling Exhibit but at least one of our exhibits fits the qualifications. Don't be afraid to apply! Imagine what your students or library patrons will say if you can show them these gorgeous exhibits.

National Environmental Education Foundation

National Science Teachers Association

National Geographic Society Education Foundation

American Immigration Law Foundation

Verizon Foundation

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Endowment for the Arts

National Art Education Association

Monday, January 12, 2009

Asking Local Businesses to Support You

  • Try to identify local businesses that have supported art, school, or community projects in the past.
  • List companies and businesses that already do business with your school or library
  • Write a letter detailing what the project is that you are asking them to sponsor, the monetary support needed, what the school, library or community can take away from the exhibit. Try to address the letter to the person in charge of charitable giving or a personal contact rather than simply sir/madam.

How to Make an Appeal: To make an effective appeal to business, it helps if you have some understanding of why firms give. Reasons for responding to an appeal include the following:
- to “do good”, particularly in smaller firms where the proprietor gives through his company to the same causes he supports personally.
- to promote a local image and to create goodwill by being seen as a good neighbor and good citizen.
- to improve employee relations and motivation – fundraising can build team spirit and employees like to feel their employer cares about good causes.
peer pressure - because other companies in their industry or the locality give.
- to be associated with causes that relate to their business, for example the motor industry with environment, pharmaceuticals with health, banks with economic development.
- to acquire publicity.

What to Say: You should state clearly, succinctly, and without using jargon, the following:
- who you are (don’t assume they know who you are)
- what expertise your organization has (try to show that your charity is well-run and efficient)
- how your work benefits the local community - who your clients are and what you do for them
- why you need the money
- why the project is important and how urgent the need is (include what is different, unique or innovative about this particular project)
- what you are asking for – and, if money, then how it will be spent
- why you think the company should support your cause (what is the link between your group and this particular company?
- what they will get out of giving.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Adopt a Classroom?

So for all the teachers out there who need funding for classroom projects or even supplies there are 2 websites that you could use. The first is and allows teachers to register on the site and ask for funding to use on items that enrich the classroom environment. Individuals, Businesses or Foundations can then adopt that teacher up to $500. Each donor receives information on the classroom they adopted including an itemized list of what the money was used for.

The second website is and is similar to the adopt a classroom idea in that teachers submit projects and ask for donors to fund them. After receiving donor support teachers and their class must put together a thank you package for their donor.

These are 2 options that we at Teacher's Discovery feel would work well for classes that are looking to bring in our traveling exhibits as these are not only educational on a cross-ciricular basis but also enrich the classroom/school environment.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Searchable Grant Websites

Check out these websites where you can search for grants in your area. There are hundreds of grants listed and if you have the time to search through these sites I'm confident you can find a grant program that will work for your school or library.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Private Sector Funding Links

Here are a few of the larger Private Grants available to Teachers and Libraries.

JP Morgan Chase Foundation

GE Foundation

Bank of America Foundation

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Ford Foundation

Target Grants;jsessionid=AOOJVVRSUUYVJLARAAV5YAA?contentId=WCMP04-031819

Toshiba America Foundation Grants (Only for Rainforest or Global Warming Exhibit)

SeaWorld/Busch Gardens (Only for Rainforest or Global Warming Exhibit)

The American Immigration Law Foundation's Curriculum Center Teacher Grant Program (Great for the Ellis Island Exhibit)

Tips for Obtaining Grant Money for Art Education

The first step is to PLAN YOUR PROJECT. Put together a well developed idea that includes what you hope to accomplish and exactly how you will achieve your goal. Be clear on how this project fits into your cirriculum. Make sure you check with your school district to see if they have any specific requirements for grant writing.

Second step is to FIND THE FUNDS. Start with local and state funding (keep checking this blog for more detailed information) since this is where the majority of grants come from. Look for local art organizations or groups in your area that support education and the arts. Consider going after a mini-grant which is usually less than $1,000. There are a greater number of these grants available and the application process is usually easier. Determine if there is a fit between your project and the individual grants you have found.

Third and most important step is WRITE THE GRANT PROPOSAL. Once you have located a grant that fits your project and needs start puting together a list of all the items needed in the proposal. These will usually be Concept, Program, Budget, and Conclusion. In the concept lay out the need or problem that your program will address and explain the benefits. Include any research that supports your cause. In the program area outline the main activities and list the procedures, resources, events and conditions involved. Also include a timeline of the project if possible. Make sure to include a plan for evaluating the program after completetion and any projections on whether the program can be repeated in the future. When including the budget make sure it is detailed and covers all aspects of the program. Try and prove that the requested funds are consistent with the project's objectives and activities. Finally, in the conclusion make a strongly reasoned but also emotional appeal conveying the need for the project.

Special notes: Include an introduction letter with the application and keep copies of everything you send. When you receive a reply, even if it is a no, write and send a thank you note for the opportunity to apply.

A wonderful book for tips and sources on grants is called Finding Funding by Ernest Brewer and Charles Achilles. You can buy it through Teacher's Discovery for $40.95.