Friday, February 20, 2009

AT: Funding

When schools are strapped for cash, it is important to consider what funding opportunities are available for teachers and their students when it comes to purchasing assistive technology. Grants and local funding are ideal ways for teachers to fund AT needs for students in their classrooms and/or in their schools, but there are other options too.

As part of this assignment for LATS, I had to learn more about the steps and sources for funding AT. One of the purposes of this assignment was to learn about how to connect educators with grants and monies to support students who would benefit from AT .

Through this module, I learned how important it is to gather data on your student and to research what AT, low tech to high tech, is available to support their needs in the classroom. I also learned about some additional sources of funding for AT. Some of these resources include:
For the most part, my district pupil personnel staff and families are responsible for funding opportunities through Medicaid, SSI, IDEA, etc. As a classroom teacher, I am rarely involved in this paperwork, but when I worked in PPS during college it was my job to gather the documentation required for this funding so I know a little bit about how it works.

As a classroom teacher, there seems to be a disconnect between pupil personnel and the classroom staff regarding this type of funding. I recognize this challenge and it would be nice to be able to connect more about this topic. This could probably be achieved through a faculty meeting, PPS newsletter or e-mail update to staff, but I am not advocating any more work for those hard working secretaries!

On the other hand, I am lucky to work in a school that supports my participation in unique funding opportunities through grants and contests. While at my district, I have worked on grant writing committees to access money from the Department of Education. I have also applied for community grants that are available through my school district. I have even applied for unique grants and contests through local community organizations with my class.

While I recognize that there are many sources of funding, I think it is in a district's best interest to allow teachers to challenge themselves through these grant writing opportunities. As Dave says, "Obtaining funds for assistive technology can be a rewarding challenge to a problem solver personality." I like the challenge. How about you? If so, here are some tips for you:
  • Gather Research
  • Know the Law (FAPE and IDEA)
  • Apply to different organizations
  • Keep your chin up
    • If your grant is denied, don't be afraid to try again
Any trouble? Talk with your colleagues or online PLN, they may have experience with funding and be able to offer you advice for success.

Additional resources:
DonorsChoose.org

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