FINDING ALTERNATIVES TO FEDERAL EDUCATION FUNDING
President Trump's proposed budget for education calls for spending cuts of 13%, an amount of $9 billion, which includes reductions at the K-12 level and in higher education aid.
In higher education, for example, the plan seeks to eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program and remove $3.9 billion from the surplus of Pell Grants; both programs target individual undergraduate students with high financial need.
For K-12 education, according to NPR, some of the biggest cuts include a $2.3 billion program for teacher training and class-size reduction, and a $1.2 billion after-school program, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. A $190 million literacy program would also be cut.
The proposed budget cuts wouldn't affect all schools equally. President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have emphasized their interest in supporting school choice, including charter schools and other similar organizations. Part of this support will be included in the $1 billion Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) initiative, which would fall under Title I, but not be distributed with the standard Title I formula.
As has often been the case with the President's proposed budget cuts, Congress has not been playing along. In early September, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly against the proposed cuts. The House also rejected many of the cuts, but was still proposing reductions of $2.4 billion. Agreement on the final numbers will happen later in the year.
On another positive note, in September the President issued a memo to Secretary DeVos calling for $200 million annually for STEM grants, with an emphasis on computer science and programs that benefit underrepresented minorities. However, this funding would be directed from the current grant budget, and does not represent new, additional funding.
While it remains to be seen what sorts of final cuts might ultimately be put into place, teachers and schools should be on the lookout for potential sources of alternate funding.
One often overlooked source of funding for teachers and schools is corporate giving programs. Many companies look to give back in their communities, and education is a common focus area. Most of us fondly remember Pizza Hut's Book It! program from our childhoods, or our children's childhoods, but corporate involvement takes many other forms. Programs are often targeted to the company's particular expertise. For example, CenturyLink offers donations to help teachers innovatively implement technology in their classrooms, and Discover, the credit card and financial services company, offers support to incorporate financial education into the school curriculum. Definitely check with local businesses for possible funding opportunities, particularly if the company's interests overlap with your project.
There are also a variety of teachers associations that will help you stay on top of current funding opportunities. For example, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics maintains an excellent list of potential grant sources. These associations are also a great source for professional development and networking opportunities.
Social media is also an excellent way to become aware of possible grant opportunities. Follow the Department of Education so you can be alerted when grant opportunities do actually drop, but also follow various education associations and groups. Searching tags like #grants and #teachers can help you find some opportunities on Twitter.
Last but not least, don't forget about GrantStation as a source to help you find funding for your projects. Our database has tons of great opportunities for education funding. Educate yourself!
- Business is good! Check local companies for education-focused programs.
- Associate! Teachers associations can lead you in some promising directions.
- Get social! Use social media to keep an eye out for new opportunities.