You have a vision for incorporating computer programming into the classroom and introducing your kids to important 21st century skills. You want to use Tynker’s ready to use lesson plans, but need to find the funds. Don’t worry–you just need to know where to look, and with some effort and creativity, you can absolutely find the funds you need. Here are ideas from schools who have upgraded to Tynker premium options.
STEP 1: Decide how to position your project.
Determine where you think your program fits. This could impact the budget categories available to fund your project. Tynker is a technology tool, but it also falls into a curriculum bucket, so there are a number of angles from which to craft your campaign:
- It promotes project-based learning
- It showcases and enhances STEM learning outcomes
- It’s a creativity tool to inspire kids to become makers
- It develops critical thinking and problem-solving, elevating technology curriculum to teach 21st century skills
- It supports CSTA and Common Core State standards
- It supports writing, reading and math standards
STEP 2: Explore funding opportunities within your school or district.
Your goal, your story and positioning should target the budgets within your school or district that have available funds. There are a number of options available to teachers such as school site funds, library/media budgets, and special funding for boosting outcomes in specific academic areas. At a school or district level, if general education funds are not available, there might be a supplemental material or technology budget that can be tapped.
Find advocates within your school or district who share your vision. Invite school administrators, community leaders and other stakeholders–anyone who influences budget decisions–to observe your class in action. When Sioux City School District in Iowa invited school board members to observe a 2nd grade class, “the adults were blown away,” recalls Kathy Bottaro, Digital Learning Program Coordinator. “It was an easy way to give them a glimpse of the future, and create urgency around what we need to do to prepare kids today.”
STEP 3: If your school cannot fund your project, explore outside funding options.
LOCAL COMMUNITY SOURCES: Make a personal appeal to rally the community around your cause, and urge them to make positive impact on local youth. Companies and organizations make it a priority to fund local initiatives that benefit their employees, their families, and communities in which they live. Schools have told us that local funding sources are easier and quicker to obtain because donors can see the impact of their generosity.
- Look for local grants & sponsorships: Start by thinking about which companies within your community you might have connections to, and which businesses would make a good fit for your project (start with sample letters). Find local listings (reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club for ideas and contacts). Homer Intermediate School in New York, Mattos Elementary in California, and Old Trail School in Ohio found funds for Tynker through local businesses and foundations.
- Fundraise within your school and local community: This is a great opportunity to involve the students and parents–they might have some ideas of their own!
- If you’re asking for a simple monetary donation, be sure to ask if parents’ places of employment offer corporate matching opportunities.
- Host an event to encourage the community to donate to your campaign: a movie night, talent show, digital technology showcase, or a dance/jog/walk/anything-athon. Encourage the community to make digital literacy their cause. The Novato Youth Center in California, raised $15,000 for Tynker and Chromebooks by hosting a Danceathon.
- Encourage families to invest in their community as they shop. Fundraising programs like Funding Factory, TerraCycle, Mixed Bag Designs, and LockerWorks all donate a portion of sales towards your specific school project or charity.
NATIONAL FUNDING SOURCES: You can also consider grants from large multi-national corporations and foundations, or “crowdfunding” (where teachers can post their project online and individuals from outside the local community can choose to fund the project).
- GrantWrangler (STEM resources), USA Grant Watch, and eSchool News are excellent resources for finding national grant opportunities based on your particular requirements. Edutopia regularly updates a list of education-focused national grants.
- Popular crowdfunding sites include Donors Choose, Digital Wish (works like a registry), and Adopt a Classroom (national corporate partners).
STEP 4: Make it personal.
If you can tell your story with enthusiasm and conviction, people will be excited to support you. Share your passion and excitement about introducing kids to coding. Talk about how technological literacy and computer programming are valuable skills that our leaders and innovators of tomorrow should be learning at a young age. The money is there. You just have to go out and ask for it.
Do you have a successful fundraising story? We want to hear from you!