Simple Fundraising Actions Your School Can Implement Today

By Melanie Horton, Director of Marketing

Originally published October 24, 2017; last updated November 28, 2022

All charter schools can use a few extra dollars to fund projects and programs that support the success of their students. Wherever your school is with its fundraising strategy, there’s always room for evaluation and improvement. We’ve put together a list of five simple actions schools can take to increase donations, as well as a fequick tips to help strengthen the connection to potential and existing donors.  

Five Fundraising Actions Your School Can Take Today

1. Participate in #GivingTuesday: Celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, GivingTuesday was started in 2012 as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world” (www.givingtuesday.org). The movement provides an opportunity for charitable organizations to rally their communities and encourage donations to their causes through the use of the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media. For GivingTuesday 2021, online and offline donations in the United States totaled $2.7 billion, an increase of 9% from 2020 and 38% from pre-pandemic levels! You can find several resources to help plan for #GivingTuesday 2022, which falls on November 29 this year, at www.givingtuesday.org, including a toolkit for nonprofits with links to logo files and social media templates, suggested messaging, and best practices for engaging your community. Don’t worry about implementing all the recommendations the first time you participate; you can start by incorporating #GivingTuesday into your existing social media plan, and set aside time well in advance next year to develop a more comprehensive strategy. 

2. Register on Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. There is a simple registration process, so you will need access to the school’s EIN and bank account information. Once you are registered, remind parents, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders to bookmark smile.amazon.com, where they can select your school as their charitable organization of choice; they only need to do this once, and all future eligible purchases made at smile.amazon.com will result in a 0.5% donation to your school.  Once an individual makes a purchase that results in a donation, they’ll be able to view and keep track of the total amount donated to the school across time; this is a fun, useful feature that allows donors to see the collective impact of several small donations made by members of the school community across time.  

3. Remember to ask donors if their employer participates in a matching gift program. Some individuals may not be aware their employer offers a matching gift program, leaving potential fundraising dollars on the table! Make sure to include this reminder on your website’s donation page, as well as in any direct mail fundraising campaigns. While there is technology available for purchase that can be linked to your school’s website, which allows donors to check their employer’s matching gift policy and guidelines on the spot, this is also easy to do without the help of extra tools. Just include a simple, noticeable message that prompts donors to ask if their employer, or their spouse’s employer, participates in a matching gift program. You can also prompt donors to check a box if they already know they have access to a matching gift program and remind them to proceed with the necessary paperwork. Asking donors to check a box makes it easy for you to follow-up about matching gifts.  

What happens next? The donor will then need to request the proper paperwork from their employer (as well as verify that the school is eligible for a matching donation) and submit a matching gift form to your school. Upon receipt of the form, a school employee will need to confirm donation from the individual and submit the form to the employer.  

You may want to check this list of top matching gift companies and share it with your community so those who donate have a quick way to verify if their company has a matching gift policy. This list is not comprehensive as it only covers larger companies with strong matching gifts programs, but it’s still a helpful reference to have. 

4. Register with local supermarkets and other retail stores. Several retailers offer programs that allow customers to donate a percentage of their purchases to the charitable organization of their choice. For example, the Kroger Family of Companies, which operates over 2,700 grocery retail stores across the country, has a Community Contribution Program that allows rewards card users to select a community organization to donate to. If Kroger doesn’t have a presence in your community, you may want to pay a visit to your local retailers to ask if they have similar programs.  

5. Don’t leave grant money on the table! There are hundreds of grant opportunities available to charter schools, some of which require no more than a simple application form.  It can be difficult to make time to focus on grant writing when there are so many other things to get done, which is why EdTec offers grant research and writing services for busy school leaders.  If you wish to speak with someone about how we can customize our services to meet your school’s needs, please send us email to learn moreFor more information about upcoming grant opportunities for charter schools, you can sign up to receive our monthly grants email. 

Three Ways to Strengthen Your School’s Fundraising Program

1. Make your case. The stronger your story, the more compelled your stakeholders will feel to give. Is your per-student funding rate less than the state average? Less than the neighborhood school district? Share these facts with your audience and include numbers when you have them. You’ll also want to include a list of things you aim to accomplish through fundraising, be it reducing class size, purchasing new musical instruments, enhancing facilities, or starting an after-school STEM program, as well as a tally of funds raised to date (if any) and what you’ve been able to accomplish as a result. Give your potential donors proof that their money will be put to good use!

2. Be thankful! Always send timely thank you notes, preferably within two weeks of receiving a donation (and sooner if you can). While it is a nice gesture to send hand-written notes, this is not always feasible, especially for larger schools. Have a template thank you note ready to go, personalize the letter with the donor’s name and donation details, and ask the school’s principal or executive director to sign it.  You might also consider putting together an annual publication that recognizes donors for their contributions and includes information about the projects and improvements that were made possible by their generosity. Donors will enjoy being recognized and be more compelled to give in the future.

3. Stay in touch. Add all donors who are new to your community to your contact list and include them in relevant communications such as newsletters and invitations to upcoming events as a way to remind them of all the great things happening at your school and why they should continue to give! It’s always more difficult to reconnect with donors when they haven’t heard from you since their last donation. Donors are important stakeholders, and we want them to feel like they are a true part of the school community. The more we nurture donors, the stronger these relationships will grow over time.   

    

Grant Opportunities for Charter Schools – Winter 2022

This post includes grant opportunities with deadlines ranging from December 2022 to January 2023. 

EdTec is here to help your school secure additional funding for day-to-day operations or special projects. We’ve compiled a list of regional and national grant opportunities currently available to charter schools. See below for more information.

If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here.

Nationwide Grant Opportunities

Federal Charter Schools Program CMO Grant

Purpose: The Department of Education is inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year 2023 for Grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools (CSP CMO Grants). Grant funds may be used to expand the enrollment of one or more existing high-quality charter schools, or to replicate one or more new charter schools based on an existing high-quality charter school model.
Deadline: January 3, 2023. Applicants are strongly encouraged but not required to submit a notice of intent to apply by December 5, 2022.
Learn more.

 

Charter School Growth Fund – See and Scale Funding

Purpose:The Charter School Growth Fund is looking to support educational leaders and entrepreneurs who want to grow their high-performing public charter schools. Early-stage growth is supported through Seed Funding, for schools and networks growing to serve 250-1,000 additional students in the next two years, while later-stage expansion is funded through Scale Funding for schools and networks growing to serve over 1,000 students over the next three to five years.
Deadline: Seed Funding applications due January 9, 2023; Scale Funding applications accepted on a rolling basis.
Learn more.

 

New Schools Venture Fund Innovative Schools Application

Purpose: Grants for the creation of new, innovative public schools launching in Fall 2024. This annual funding opportunity is designed to support early-stage charter organizations launching their first and/or second school in a new network, and support district schools to develop and implement innovative instructional designs within new schools. All schools must be committed to three design principles: an expanded definition of student success, equity and innovation.
Deadline: January 27, 2023
Learn more.

Regional Grant Opportunities

California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program

Purpose: The program addresses the state’s teacher shortage in STEM, special education, bilingual education, and transitional kindergarten, by supporting local education agencies (LEAs) to recruit classified school employees into teaching careers and support their undergraduate education, professional teacher preparation, and certification as credentialed California teachers. Grant awards of up to $4,800 per participant per year may be made to school districts, county offices of education, or charter schools interested in securing grant funding to recruit and support classified staff who already hold an associate or higher degree to complete a bachelor’s degree and earn a California teaching credential.

Deadline: December 9, 2022
Learn more.

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If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here. EdTec can also provide support with grant writing – reach out to our grants specialist to discuss your school’s needs!

An Interview with Hilary Moore: Empowering STEAM Educators Through Grant Opportunities

Hilary Moore is a STEAM Coordinator at Cirrus Academy Charter School in Georgia and a recent grant recipient of the Teacher Innovator Institute at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.! After receiving the Winter 2022 EdTec Grants Newsletter, which her school’s founder forwarded to her, Hilary was encouraged to apply.

The Teacher Innovator Institute is a professional learning community of middle school STEAM teachers who spend a two-week intensive in Washington, D.C., working with education and STEAM experts to explore the connections between informal STEAM education and authentic learning.

We reached out to Hilary to learn more about the process of applying for the grant, her experience participating in the National Air and Space Museum Teacher Innovation Institute, and the impact that her experience will have in the classroom!

 

EdTec: Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as STEAM Coordinator at Cirrus Academy Charter School.

Hilary: I love science and technology. I have worked in science/STEM education for almost ten years from tutoring and camps to schools. I’m in my fourth year of classroom teaching. As a STEM coordinator, I teach STEM/STEAM as well as share resources with my teachers, and plan STEAM events. I am always on the lookout for new technologies, strategies, and resources in STEAM.

EdTec: How did you learn about the Smithsonian grant? What was the proposal process like?

Hilary: The founder of my school recently received the Winter 2022 EdTec Grants Newsletter. He forwarded the newsletter to me and encouraged me to apply to the program. Applying to the program at the time required a video introduction, signed principal approval, two recommendation letters, and professional learning goals. Applicants were also required to provide responses to short answer questions about their school, community, and teaching goals. During the program, I learned applicant criteria varies every year.

EdTec: How did it feel to be awarded such a prestigious grant? What was your first reaction?

Hilary: Like many others, initially, I was shocked that I was accepted into the 2022 cohort. Afterwards, I was thrilled and had moments of hesitancy knowing I would be away from family for two weeks during summer break, but my family gave me their full support. Their push helped me own this accomplishment and bask in it.

EdTec: What are some of the most valuable experiences or lessons from the National Air and Space Museum Teacher Innovation Institute that you are excited to bring back to the classroom? How do you plan to incorporate the inspiration into your work with students this school year?

Hilary: I gained so many valuable experiences from attending NASM TII this summer. It’s almost too many to count. First, having the opportunity to network with teachers from around the country was huge. I was able to learn about different perspectives in education, collaborate on ideas and projects, and gain long-distance friends. The second most valuable experience was exploring our nation’s capital. We were able to explore the museums through authentic object-based learning. There were also downtime opportunities for us to tour on our own and fun group outings built into our schedule. Lastly, taking STEM classes and learning about and/or receiving STEM resources at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center took the cake. Teachers are always in need of new strategies and tools to educate our diverse learners.

This year, I created a STEM pacing guide that includes many of the resources and strategies I discovered at TII. We were given an Ozobot and other coding software. I’ve used my Ozozbot to help with literacy by creating a story using cloze notes/maze. My students are learning about color codes. The Ozobot starts at the beginning of the story and makes it to the finish line by following the codes students create. One of my other TII inspired projects involves Chibitronics paper circuitry. All my classes will complete a Chibitronics project with materials I received from my funded Donors Choose paper circuitry project. I also learned about Donors Choose while attending TII. I plan to incorporate more TII fundamentals in the years to come.

EdTec: What advice would you give other charter school teachers and leaders when it comes to the value of grant opportunities and making time to pursue them?

Hilary: The advice I would give to other charter school teachers and leaders is to get the news out about these awesome grant opportunities! Programs such as TII are here for the betterment, appreciation, and advancement of educators. I not only gained valuable experiences, but I also truly felt valued for what I do and who I am. So, I think it’s extremely important for teachers and leaders to spread the news about the types of grants and programs being offered. These opportunities are easily missed if you are not in the loop. In addition, I would tell any educator thinking of applying to these types of programs to be confident in their impact and let it show in your application and goals. They want to know what fuels you, who you are, and how you think. Finally, be open and ready to receive your new adventures.


We would like to thank Hilary Moore for sharing her wonderful experience and the impact she has as an educator!

If you are interested in signing up for EdTec’s Grant Newsletter to stay up to date about upcoming grant opportunities you can do so here. EdTec also provides support with grant research and writing for schools interested in pursuing funds for special projects. In addition, we work with developing schools to complete applications for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). If you are interested in learning more about these services, please reach out to our grants team.

 

Grant Opportunities for Charter Schools – Fall 2022

This post includes grant opportunities with deadlines ranging from August 31, 2022, to March 1, 2023. 

EdTec is here to help your school secure additional funding for day-to-day operations or special projects. We’ve compiled a list of regional and national grant opportunities currently available to charter schools. See below for more information.

If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here.

Nationwide Grant Opportunities

MIT School of Engineering and the Lemelson Foundation

Purpose: Grants of up to $7,500 to USA and territories STEM educators affiliated with high schools to lead high school student teams in a hands-on STEM challenge. Selected teacher-student teams choose a real-world problem and collaborate to invent an innovative technological solution. Funds may be allocated for research, materials, and learning experiences related to the project.
Deadline: September 6, 2022
Learn more.

 

National Science Teaching Association

Purpose: This grant is offered to recognize the outstanding efforts of teachers to implement an inquiry-based approach to science education that stimulates interest and exploration in students. The grant covers up to $1,500 in travel expenses to attend the NSTA national conference, as well as $1,500 for use in the classroom. You can explore any of the other numerous awards offered by NSTA.
Deadline: October 1, 2022
Learn more.

 

Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program 

Purpose: The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Program (SFE) has provided grants ranging from $100 to $500 for native plant gardens and landscaping projects throughout the United States. The funds are designated for acquiring native plants and seeds for outdoor learning areas that engage youth (preschool to high school) directly in planning, planting and caring for native plant gardens. All public and private schools, non-profits such as nature centers, youth organizations and community youth centers in the US are welcome to apply so long as the project uses native plants or seeds to educate youth.
Deadline: October 15, 2022
Learn more.

 

Bee Grants In Partnership with the Bee Cause Project

Purpose: These grant programs allow for schools and non-profit organizations to receive support for educational beehives and bee programming so students can observe bees up close and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in our food system.
Deadline: October 15, 2022
Learn more.

 

GameTime

Purpose: Grants to USA nonprofit and youth organizations, schools, and parks departments to purchase outdoor recreational equipment. The purpose of this program is to help promote physical activity, reduce childhood obesity, and encourage play for all. Eligible uses of funds include PowerScape®, PrimeTime®, Xscape®, IONiX®, and select Modern City PlayLab® systems only. Select THRIVE, Challenge Course, and GTFit products are available with specific funding awards limits.
Deadline: October 26, 2022
Learn more.

 

National Council of Teachers Mathematics

Purpose: Apply for NCTM’s Mathematics Education Trust grants, scholarships, and awards. Funding ranges from $1,500 to $24,000 and is available to help math teachers, prospective teachers, and other math educators improve the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Deadline: November 1, 2022
Learn more.

 

Knowles Teacher Initiative

Purpose: Fellowships of up to $50,000 to USA early-career teachers for teaching opportunities in high school-level mathematics and science. Fellows will receive stipends and grants, mentoring and coaching, and networking resources. Funding is intended for teachers in the disciplines of physics, biology, mathematics, or chemistry.
Deadline: January 8, 2023
Learn more.

 

James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

Purpose: The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. As funding permits, the Foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state per year.
Deadline: March 1, 2023
Learn more.

Regional Grant Opportunities

New York State Education Department RFP #1080 (NEW YORK)

Purpose: Grants to New York nonprofit organizations, government agencies, faith-based organizations, public educational institutions, and school districts to meet the needs of at-risk families. The purpose of the program is to provide resources to prevent child neglect and abuse.
Deadline: August 31, 2022
Learn more.

 

Bayer Foundation (NORTHERN CALIFORNIA)

Purpose: Grants to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and libraries in eligible regions for programs to advance K-12 STEM education. Applicants must contact the funding source to obtain an invitation code to apply. Applications will be accepted for both new and existing programs.
Deadline: August 31, 2022
Learn more.

 

Learning for Justice (GEORGIA)

Purpose: Grants to USA educators, administrators, and personnel at schools, juvenile facilities, and IHEs for projects to address the needs of students. Funding is intended for projects that promote social justice at the classroom, school, or district level. Priority will be given to projects implemented in Title I schools or schools with high percentages of students and/or educators from BIPOC communities.
Deadline: October 14, 2022
Learn more.

 

WM Keck Foundation (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA)

Purpose: Grant to California nonprofit organizations and agencies in eligible regions for projects that strengthen families, promote the healthy development and education of children and youth, and enhance the lives of residents. Priority will be given to projects focused on low-income and homeless families, underserved communities, and special needs populations.
Deadline: November 15, 2022
Learn more.

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If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here. EdTec can also provide support with grant writing – reach out to our grants specialist to discuss your school’s needs!

Grant Opportunities for Charter Schools – Winter 2022

This post includes grant opportunities with deadlines starting in February and March 2022. 

EdTec is here to help your school secure additional funding for day-to-day operations or special projects. We’ve put together a list of regional and national grant opportunities currently available to charter schools. See below for more information.

If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here.

Nationwide Grant Opportunities

NoVo Foundation, Education First, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors 2022 Social and Emotional Learning in Action

Purpose: Grants for projects benefiting PreK-12 students. Funding is intended for classroom, school, or district-wide projects that encourage social-emotional growth. Grant funds may be used to support or expand an existing project or to start a new initiative. NoVo Foundation is committed to supporting the spread of social and emotional learning (SEL) practices in schools and districts nationwide. NoVo Foundation, in partnership with Education First and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, aims to seed projects that foster social and emotional competencies in students in grades PK-12. 
Deadline: March 14, 2022
Learn more.

 

KidsGardening & The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation

Purpose: Programs will be awarded funding to start or expand their youth garden or greenspace. Programs will also have the opportunity to apply for additional funding through the following specialty award categories: GroPlus, GroPride, and GroEquity.
Deadline: February 4, 2022
Learn more.

 

Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation 

Purpose: The Foundation prefers to concentrate on five primary areas including: Arts & Culture, Community Building & Social Service, Democracy & Civic Participation, Education, and Health. Proposals that fall outside of the five main areas of focus may be considered as long as they offer imaginative, and when possible, long-range solutions to the problems of the most needy members of society, and ideally, solutions that can be replicated in other communities.
Deadline: February 15, 2022 (LOI); April 1, 2022 (Application)
Learn more.

 

National Air and Space Museum

Purpose: Opportunity for USA middle-school STEAM teachers to participate in a professional training program in Washington, DC. The training program helps teachers gain new skills, develop projects, incorporate informal education into their curriculum, and meet fellow STEAM educators from across the United States.
Deadline: February 15, 2022
Learn more.

 

Monat Gratitude

Purpose: Grants of up to $20,000 to nonprofit organizations and charitable entities to provide educational resources and extracurricular programming for children in grades K-12. Focus Areas: Arts and Culture, Youth Sports and Recreation, Youth Entrepreneurship. 
Deadline: February 28, 2022
Learn more.

 

Trust for the Meditation Process

Purpose: Grants of up to $5,000 to nonprofit organizations and government entities for projects that expand or introduce the practice of mindful meditation in underserved populations. Applicants must contact program staff prior to applying. Eligible projects are short-term and result in clear identifiable outcomes.
Deadline: March 1, 2022
Learn more.

 

National Park Trust

Purpose: Grants of up to $500 and grants of up to $1,000 to USA and territories under-resourced PreK-12 schools for opportunities to experience historic sites and parks. Funding is intended for in-person or distance learning activities. Grant funds can be used towards program fees, transportation costs, hands-on materials for remote learning activities, stewardship supplies, and any other materials needed for a robust learning experience.
Deadline: February 11, 2022
Learn more.

Georgia Grant Opportunities

Georgia Council for the Arts

Purpose: Project Grants of up to $6,000 to support single art projects such as an art exhibit, a theatre production, a series of workshops for children, or an artist residency. In FY23, because of the impact of COVID-19 on organizations across the state, Project Grant applicants will be able to apply for capacity building projects, such as developing a strategic plan, a development plan, or a plan to safely reopen an arts facility.
Deadline: February 2, 2022
Learn more.

 

Harland Charitable Foundation

Purpose: Grants of up to $40,000 to Georgia nonprofit organizations in eligible regions for community service programs. Eligible programs may align with one of the following areas of focus: children and youth, arts, environment, culture, and community services. Priority is given to nonprofit organizations in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County.
Deadline: August 10, 2022
Learn more.

New York Grant Opportunities

The Barker Welfare Foundation

Purpose: Grants to New York nonprofit organizations in eligible communities for programs that focus on promoting health, education, welfare, cultural activities, and civic affairs. Applicants must submit a Funding Inquiry prior to the application deadline. Funding is intended to support organizations that serve the metropolitan areas of New York City (the five boroughs).
Deadline: February 1, 2022
Learn more.

 

Entergy Charitable Foundation

Purpose: Grants to USA nonprofit, veterans, and faith-based organizations, schools, hospitals, government agencies, and volunteer fire departments in eligible states for activities that create and sustain thriving communities. Funding is intended for programs and projects that focus on the areas of workforce development, education, poverty, and the environment.
Deadline: February 1, 2022
Learn more.

 

Investors Foundation

Purpose: Grants to New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island, New York nonprofit organizations for programs that focus on education, the arts, youth, health and human services, and affordable housing. Funding is intended to support civic-minded initiatives that invigorate local communities.
Deadline: February 1, 2022
Learn more.

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If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here. EdTec can also provide support with grant writing – reach out to our grants specialist to discuss your school’s needs!

Five Minutes of Updated Practical Fundraising Advice for Charter Schools

By Melanie Horton, Director of Marketing

Originally published October 24, 2017; last updated November 23, 2021

All charter schools can use a few extra dollars to fund projects and programs that support the success of their students. Wherever your school is with its fundraising strategy, there’s always room for evaluation and improvement. We’ve put together a list of five simple actions schools can take to increase donations, as well as a fequick tips to help strengthen the connection to potential and existing donors.  

Five Fundraising Actions Your School Can Take Today

1. Participate in #GivingTuesday: Celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, GivingTuesday was started in 2012 as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world” (www.givingtuesday.org). The movement provides an opportunity for charitable organizations to rally their communities and encourage donations to their causes through the use of the #GivingTuesday hashtag on social media. For GivingTuesday 2019, online contributions reached $511 million, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the previous year, and the organization estimates that total online and offline donations totaled nearly $2 billion. That same year, the hashtag earned more than 20 billion social media impressions!  You can find several resources to help plan for #GivingTuesday 2021, which falls on November 30 this year, at www.givingtuesday.org, including a toolkit for nonprofits with links to logo files and social media templates, suggested messaging, and best practices for engaging your community. Don’t worry about implementing all the recommendations the first time you participate; you can start by incorporating #GivingTuesday into your existing social media plan, and set aside time well in advance next year to develop a more comprehensive strategy. 

2. Register on Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. There is a simple registration process, so you will need access to the school’s EIN and bank account information. Once you are registered, remind parents, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders to bookmark smile.amazon.com, where they can select your school as their charitable organization of choice; they only need to do this once, and all future eligible purchases made at smile.amazon.com will result in a 0.5% donation to your school.  Once an individual makes a purchase that results in a donation, they’ll be able to view and keep track of the total amount donated to the school across time; this is a fun, useful feature that allows donors to see the collective impact of several small donations made by members of the school community across time.  

3. Remember to ask donors if their employer participates in a matching gift program. Some individuals may not be aware their employer offers a matching gift program, leaving potential fundraising dollars on the table! Make sure to include this reminder on your website’s donation page, as well as in any direct mail fundraising campaigns. While there is technology available for purchase that can be linked to your school’s website, which allows donors to check their employer’s matching gift policy and guidelines on the spot, this is also easy to do without the help of extra tools. Just include a simple, noticeable message that prompts donors to ask if their employer, or their spouse’s employer, participates in a matching gift program. You can also prompt donors to check a box if they already know they have access to a matching gift program and remind them to proceed with the necessary paperwork. Asking donors to check a box makes it easy for you to follow-up about matching gifts.  

What happens next? The donor will then need to request the proper paperwork from their employer (as well as verify that the school is eligible for a matching donation) and submit a matching gift form to your school. Upon receipt of the form, a school employee will need to confirm donation from the individual and submit the form to the employer.  

You may want to check this list of top matching gift companies and share it with your community so those who donate have a quick way to verify if their company has a matching gift policy. This list is not comprehensive as it only covers larger companies with strong matching gifts programs, but it’s still a helpful reference to have. 

4. Register with local supermarkets and other retail stores. Several retailers offer programs that allow customers to donate a percentage of their purchase to the charitable organization of their choice. For example, the Kroger Family of Companies, which operates over 2,700 grocery retail stores across the country, has a Community Contribution Program that allows rewards card users to select a community organization to donate to. If Kroger doesn’t have a presence in your community, you may want to pay a visit to your local retailers to ask if they have similar programs.  

5. Don’t leave grant money on the table! There are hundreds of grant opportunities available to charter schools, some of which require no more than a simple application form.  It can be difficult to make time to focus on grant writing when there are so many other things to get done, which is why EdTec offers grant research and writing services for busy school leaders.  If you wish to speak with someone about how we can customize our services to meet your school’s needs, please send us email to learn moreFor more information about upcoming grant opportunities for charter schools, you can sign up to receive our monthly grants email. 

Three Ways to Strengthen Your School’s Fundraising Program

1. Make your case. The stronger your story, the more compelled your stakeholders will feel to give. Is your per-student funding rate less than the state average? Less than the neighborhood school district? Share these facts with your audience and include numbers when you have them. You’ll also want to include a list of things you aim to accomplish through fundraising, be it reducing class size, purchasing new musical instruments, enhancing facilities, or starting an after-school STEM program, as well as a tally of funds raised to date (if any) and what you’ve been able to accomplish as a result. Give your potential donors proof that their money will be put to good use!

2. Be thankful! Always send timely thank you notes, preferably within two weeks of receiving a donation (and sooner if you can). While it is a nice gesture to send hand-written notes, this is not always feasible, especially for larger schools. Have a template thank you note ready to go, personalize the letter with the donor’s name and donation details, and ask the school’s principal or executive director to sign it.  You might also consider putting together an annual publication that recognizes donors for their contributions and includes information about the projects and improvements that were made possible by their generosity. Donors will enjoy being recognized and be more compelled to give in the future.

3. Stay in touch. Add all donors who are new to your community to your contact list and include them in relevant communications such as newsletters and invitations to upcoming invitations as a way to remind them of all the great things happening at your school and why they should continue to give! It’s always more difficult to reconnect with donors when they haven’t heard from you since their last donation. Donors are important stakeholders, and we want them to feel like they are a true part of the school community. The more we nurture donors, the stronger these relationships will grow over time.   

    

Tune into Education Strategy with EdTec’s Partner, Friday

EdTec’s Jeremy Divinity, a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University, was joined by Friday’s Annie Crangle and Dr. Jeffrey Hunt to discuss the power of strategic planning during a crisis in a recent podcast episode titled, “From Crisis Management to Strategic Planning“.

During the podcast episode, Annie and Dr. Hunt talk insights from FORWARD, a recent strategic planning cohort designed to support charter school leaders in developing solid reopening plans grounded in a long-term strategic vision. As partners, EdTec’s experts participated in the cohort by providing school leaders with additional expertise in operations, finance, and student data analytics. In addition, in the podcast episode, Annie and Dr. Hunt emphasize how incorporating student voice from an equity lens through their equity tool, Highlight, positively impacts school planning.

Tune into the episode now by listening below!   

Disclaimer: This podcast is not sponsored by any outside organizations and was recorded as part of a project for a program of study.

Do you need guidance generating a new strategic plan in today’s rapidly changing environment? Don’t worry, as Friday is launching more cohorts this fall!  Sign up here to stay informed. 

Know What You Need to Know to Start a New Charter School

Every year, new charter schools across the country are started by teachers, community leaders, and education advocates with a vision to make high-quality educational options available to all families. There are many things to consider on this journey for your new charter school, including the application process, student recruitment, facility acquisition, authorizer relations, and financing and funding.

We’ll walk you through key items to plan for on the road to opening your new charter school.

Support Programs & Fellowships

There are fellowship programs available that can support the process of founding a new charter school. While not required to be able to start a school, these programs are worth looking into as they provide key financial support and valuable training. The following are a few examples of fellowship programs offered across the country that prepare aspiring leaders to design, create, and lead high performing charter schools:

Building Excellent Schools Fellowship: Over a multi-year process, Fellows hone their school’s vision, develop their leadership skills, and train to found and lead an equitable, high-performing school that reflects the needs of their community.

Diverse Charter Schools Coalition (UnifiEd School Launch Program): DCSC’s UnifiED School Launch Fellowship recruits and prepares future school leaders of excellent, intentionally integrated, public charter schools.

Innovate Public Schools: The World-Class Schools Fellowship coaches and develops school leaders to design and run excellent and equitable schools in California.

Moonshot EdVentures: Surfaces and supports underrepresented leaders in developing new learning environment models of tomorrow in the Metro Denver area.

Charter School Application

The charter school application is the first step towards realizing your dream of establishing a start-up charter school, and it is like writing a business plan in that it includes your mission, growth projections, hiring practices, budget, as well as curriculum design and more. All states with charter school legislation require an application and have a unique approval process.

A common thread throughout your charter school application will be your mission, which is ultimately your reason for being. Your school’s mission statement should communicate what you aim to accomplish and how you plan to meet those goals, and everything outlined in your application should support its achievement.

For help with the application stage, your first step should be to reach out to your state’s charter school support organization as they often provide critical startup support and can connect you to financial and other experts as needed. Some organizations also run charter school startup workshop series (there is often an admissions process) to guide you through the process.

EdTec provides support with the charter school application and budget process.

Student Recruitment

The enrollment pipeline for your new charter school has substantial implications, as funding is based on a per-pupil basis. Creating and executing a recruitment plan and outreach strategy is hard work, especially without a proven track record or facilities.

A good recruitment plan focuses on meeting potential families where they are and effectively communicates why your school is the best option for their children. It is important to spend time getting to know families in your target community and establish strong relationships with them, as they will be your best advocates when it comes time for authorization.

In terms of timing, you will want to start the outreach process as early as possible to create awareness and be able to demonstrate an interest in your school to your authorizers.

Your plan should include tactics and communication activities for each stage in the recruiting funnel: interest, apply, enroll, attend. A best practice is to aim to over-enroll by 10-20% more students than needed. Some potential funnel building tactics and activities include:

  • Knocking on doors: You can involve others from your founding team along with supportive families and community members.
  • Hosting town hall meetings: Either in-person at a community center that is willing to share space, or virtually, which might make it more accessible for working parents. You could ask local neighborhood associations if they are willing to give you time on their meeting agendas so you can spread the word about your school.
  • Traditional media (newspaper, TV, local radio): Inquire if there are free or discounted placements available for nonprofit organizations.
  • Distribute fliers: Post these at grocery stores, churches, museums, and other frequently trafficked areas in your target community.
  • Social media: Facebook is a good place to start, and it is easy and cost-effective to start running ads that target families in relevant zip codes.
  • Newsletters: Keep interested families engaged and informed about what is happening with your new charter school by staying in touch and reminding them of key dates such as upcoming open enrollment deadlines.

Facilities

Charter school leaders across the nation have a challenge in finding suitable school buildings and facilities due to inequitable access and higher costs. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Access to school buildings is one of the biggest obstacles to expanding charter school choices.”

Finding a location that is suitable or adaptable for a conducive learning environment requires innovation, creativity, and flexibility. As a new charter school leader, your search for a facility should start with how much space you need.

How many students do you plan to have in Year 1? Do you want to grow into your original space, or is this just a starter space? Does your school require unique areas? These considerations will help to define your needs.

To find affordable space, look at ‘borrowing’ community resources that are already available or approach organizations that might be willing to donate or lease facilities. Your search might include office spaces and unused floors in public schools, churches, and university institutions.

Take into consideration that some of these spaces will need to be renovated to meet the requirements for education use.

It is also important to be aware of financing options for your new charter school facility. One opportunity within the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) funding area provides federal funding to help newly authorized charter schools find suitable facilities. The Charter School Facility Center at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools offers a snapshot of how states are enacting policies to help offset the cost of leasing, purchasing, and maintaining public charter school facilities; see the State Policy Snapshot: Facilities for Public Charter Schools to learn more about your potential funding options.

Staffing

Human Resources (HR) Management is a critical element in starting and operating a successful new charter school. Recruiting, onboarding, and engaging your founding staff using positive HR practices will encourage your team of dedicated teachers and staff to develop and thrive.

Your staffing plan should focus first on hiring your co-captains and main crew, which should include the head of school or principal, operations or office manager, and the lead subject or grade level teachers. Filling these positions with the right people is critical to the success of your school. As noted in The School Leader’s Toolbox: Teacher Recruitment and Selection put together by the New Teacher Project, “The first step to creating a high performing school is choosing the right team. An effective recruitment and selection process brings in strong teachers and sets expectations for a school’s unique culture.”

When hiring, timing is not always on your side, so it is vital to find a balance between in-depth vetting and efficiency. Here are a few recruiting and hiring tips for successful staffing before your first day of school for your new charter school:

  • Hire early: Provides the opportunity to see if they are a good fit.
  • Be strategic with onboarding: Engage new hires with regular touchpoints and share important information such as the charter document and literature on the school’s educational philosophy.
  • Do not neglect HR documents: Work with a legal team to develop a comprehensive employee handbook.
  • Develop well-written position descriptions: This will help to clearly define roles, make employees more productive on the job, and eliminate confusion down the road.

Explore the many resources and hiring portals that are available to help assist in your recruitment, such as local newspapers, specialty newspapers, local colleges, job fairs, school board associations, education job boards such as EdJoin and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Job Board, and your state association of charter schools.

Authorizer Relations

Authorizers determine who can start a new charter school, set academic and operational expectations, and oversee school performance (National Association of Charter School Authorizers). Because authorizers are responsible for ensuring schools operate in accordance with their charter, they can also make the decision to close a charter school for poor performance.

Creating an authentic and transparent relationship with your authorizer from the start will help you down the road. Before you open your school doors, it is important to work with your authorizer to understand processes, expectations, and deadlines. Keep in mind that the job of the authorizer does not stop at approval, and neither should your relationship with them.

Here are a few tips to help you establish a good relationship with your authorizer:

  • Be collaborative: Your success is their success and vice versa.
  • Make friends: You both share a common goal of improving the quality of public education.
  • Get a healthy start: First impressions make lasting impressions.
  • Stay up to date: Develop working norms around compliance and reporting.
  • Keep in touch: Maintain consistent communication.

Finances

The financial health of your start-up charter school can ultimately determine your school’s viability. Your new charter school is subject to the same financial audit procedures, requirements, and reports as traditional district schools, and often more. Most charter schools that fail are forced to close for non-academic reasons, most often because of financial difficulties (Center for Education Reform).

Budgeting & Fundraising

Your budget should support the mission and vision of your new charter school by appropriately allocating resources to meet the goals outlined in your charter.

Begin your budget planning process with enrollment in mind. While it is best to aim high and push for a healthy waitlist during recruitment, you’ll want to be realistic with your budget’s enrollment projections as they are used to calculate projected revenue. Your budget should consider all potential costs while cultivating a culture of frugality when it comes to spending, especially in Year 0 to conserve as much as possible for your first few years in operation.

An excellent tool to use is the Cost Estimation Tool developed by the National Charter Resource Center on Charter School Finance and Governance, which helps start-up charter school operators to identify the underlying cost assumptions and use those assumptions to estimate operating costs.

Raising funds for your new charter school can be a challenge since it is hard to gain access to bank loans without a track record. However, there are other funding options to explore. As mentioned above, the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) provides funding to support newly authorized charter schools, provided your SEA hasn’t already received CSP funding in the fiscal year in question. Other options include grants from local and national foundations, private individuals, and the local business community.

EdTec’s grant writing experts have a proven track record with the CSP grant as well as foundation grants.

Overall, surround yourself with a passionate team that is committed to your mission, and stay laser-focused on the goals you set out to accomplish. If you don’t have expertise in a certain area, know your limitations, and seek help to complement your strengths from charter support organizations, special programs, and service providers.

Starting a charter school has never been easy, but the impact on the future of education is well worth it.

Grant Opportunities for Charter Schools – July 2021

This post includes grant opportunities with deadlines starting in August and September 2021. 

EdTec is here to help your school secure additional funding for day-to-day operations or special projects. We’ve put together a list of regional and national grant opportunities currently available to charter schools. See below for more information.

If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here.

Nationwide Grant Opportunities

Classics for Kids Foundation

Purpose: Grants to USA nonprofit organizations and K-12 schools to equip music programs with musical instruments. The applicant organization must show evidence of need and a commitment to raising matching funds. The Foundation offers matching grants for all of the instruments in the string family (including guitars and ukuleles).
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: September 30, 2021
Learn more.

 

P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education

Purpose: Grants of up to $1,000 to USA educators for projects that enhance educational programs through art. Funding is intended to cover costs associated with visual art supplies and materials. The purpose of the grant program is to assist teachers in establishing or maintaining an effective learning tool using the visual arts within the school day. The grant money awarded is specifically for acquisition of visual art supplies. Examples are paint, clay, modeling materials, tiles, markers, pencils, and paper, to name a few. The grant is intended to provide hands-on opportunities for the students to explore art in a variety of applications.
Grant Amount: Up to $1,000
Deadline: September 30, 2021
Learn more.

 

ELATE James Moffet Memorial Award

Purpose: Grants of up to $1,000 to USA nonprofit organizations for educational engineering activities and events for youth. Priority will be given to events, programs, and activities geared toward underserved K-12 students. Funding is intended to provide hands-on learning experiences that inspire an interest and understanding of engineering and take place in or around Engineers Week.
Grant Amount: Up to $1,000
Deadline: September 19, 2021
Learn more.

 

National Society of High School Scholars – DEI Teaching Grant

Purpose: Grants of $1,500 to high school teachers to benefit students in diverse populations. Funding is intended to assist educators who serve in rural areas, as well as for teachers involved in inclusion and diversity programs for their school or community. Grants may be used to support expenses for field trips, materials, supplies, and other instructional resources used to assist with course delivery.
Grant Amount: $1,500
Deadline: September 15, 2021
Learn more.

 

National Society of High School Scholars – AP Educator Grant

Purpose: Grants of $1,000 to educators to improve the instruction of advanced placement classes. Interested applicants must register as an educator with the funding source prior to applying. Funding is intended to support field trips, supplies, materials, and other items that will help supplement the delivery of courses throughout the academic year. Funds may be used to assist high school teachers in any subject.
Grant Amount: $1,000
Deadline: September 15, 2021
Learn more.

 

Tomberg Family Philanthropies

Purpose: Grants of up to $15,000 for impactful projects. Applicants must submit a Letter of Inquiry prior to submitting a full proposal. Focus areas for programs include the alleviation of poverty and education. The Foundation seeks opportunities such as pilot programs, support of a new program, capacity building, a demonstration project, an evaluation, an expansion of an existing project with demonstrable results into a new geographic area or market, and similar types of projects. A pilot is the first delivery of a new program or offering intended to serve as a test of the program; test results from the pilot inform the decision to continue delivering the program as is, or with changes.
Grant Amount: Up to $15,000
Deadline: September 7, 2021 (LOI); December 13, 2021 (Full Application)
Learn more.

 

Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE

Purpose: Grants of up to $750 to early-career middle school and high school teachers to attend an annual literature workshop. Grant funds may be used to cover the registration fee and provide assistance with travel and accommodations. Funding is intended to enable teachers to attend the ALAN workshop in Denver, Colorado. The grants provide funding for two classroom teachers in middle school or high school each year.
Grant Amount: Up to $750
Deadline: September 1, 2021
Learn more.

 

Preventing School Violence: Bureau of Justice Assistance’s STOP Violence Program

Purpose: Grants to improve school safety. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. This program furthers the Department’s mission by supporting and assisting county, local, territorial, and tribal jurisdictions in improving efforts to reduce violent crime in and around schools.
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: August 2, 2021 (grants.gov); August 16, 2021 (JustGrants)
Learn more.

 

Road Runners Club of America – Kids Run the Nation Grant

Purpose: Grants of up to $1,000 to USA nonprofit organizations, running clubs, and elementary and middle schools to implement structured youth athletic programs. Funding is intended for either new and existing programs. Eligible programs are those that provide more than just a one-time event and should be running programs that ideally utilize the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation youth running curriculum.
Grant Amount: Up to $1,000
Deadline: August 1, 2021
Learn more.

 

American Honda Foundation

Purpose: Grants of up to $75,000 to USA nonprofit organizations, public school districts, and private and public elementary and secondary schools for children’s and youth education programs. Priority areas of funding include the environment, literacy, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and job training. Youth is defined as pre-natal through 21 years of age. The Foundation seeks programs and organizations with a well-defined sense of purpose, demonstrated commitment to making the best use of available resources, and a reputation for accomplishing their objectives. 
Grant Amount: Up to $75,000
Deadline: August 1, 2021
Learn more.

California Grant Opportunities

 

Teichert Foundation

Purpose: Grants to nonprofit organizations based in Central and Northern California counties, government agencies, and public agencies for a wide range of projects that benefit the community in eligible regions. Requests for specific purposes will be given preference over requests for general operating expenses. Applicants must be located in counties in which Teichert Construction and Teichert Aggregates do business.
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: August 27, 2021
Learn more.

 

The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation

Purpose: Grants to California nonprofit organizations for activities that address community needs in eligible counties. Funding is intended to promote charitable, educational, literary, religious, and scientific purposes. Previously funded charitable causes include social services for the homeless, low-income housing, and religious, public, and private school education.
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: August 13, 2021
Learn more.

 

Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation

Purpose: Grants to California nonprofit organizations for programs that benefit communities. A letter of inquiry is required before submitting a full proposal. Funding is intended for environmental and arts education for youth and children, for programs that promote health and the environment, and to advance chamber and symphonic music.
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: August 2, 2021
Learn more.

 

Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation

Purpose: Grants to California nonprofit organizations in eligible locations to support programs in the areas of health and medicine, education, the arts, the development and mentoring of youth (under 21 years old), and environmental awareness activities. A letter of intent must be submitted before applying. Programs must benefit Los Angeles County residents.
Grant Amount: Varies
Deadline: August 1, 2021 (LOI); October 1, 2021 (Full Application)
Learn more.

 

Kinder Morgan Foundation

Purpose: Grants of up to $20,000 to Conord- and Carson-based nonprofit organizations and schools in eligible locations for academic and arts education programs serving K-12 youth. Funding is intended to support programs that benefit underserved populations, including minorities and girls. Priority will be given to STEM programs. Applicants must be located within 30 miles of the funding source’s selected areas of operations or benefit youth in those areas. Eligible uses of funds are for program support only. Programs must serve more than 500 underserved youth in grades K-12 and have a proven track record of success.
Grant Amount: Up to $20,000
Deadline: August 1, 2021
Learn more.

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If you’re interested in receiving timely information about upcoming grant opportunities, sign up for the EdTec grants newsletter here. EdTec can also provide support with grant writing – reach out to our grants specialist to discuss your school’s needs!

Setting Up Your Data Systems for Successful Performance Analysis

June 2021

By: Annice Weinstein 

This school year has brought a new set of challenges and requirements to charter schools regarding student performance and data analysis. Schools opting to administer local assessments instead of, or in addition to, state tests will still need to disaggregate and report results by student group. This raises the question for charters: Are my testing systems set up to report the results that I need?

Student IDs Are Key

Any student data your school collects can be easily disaggregated by student group if the data includes either the students’ local SIS IDs or their SSIDs. Similarly, you can track growth over time if the results from multiple administrations are linked to the same student IDs. This requires you to be consistent in the set-up of your testing systems. If you are tracking student performance locally, make sure you include the student ID in your data tracking sheets.

If you are using a testing system that requires a roster upload (examples: NWEA, i-Ready, Renaissance Star), it is important to:

  • Decide whether to use the local SIS ID or the SSID as the primary ID and BE CONSISTENT. Use the same student ID for each administration of the test.
  • Stick to a defined process for creating rosters in the testing system, preferably through uploads and not manual entry.
  • If there is the need to manually enter students, make sure to use the selected student ID.

A breakdown in this process will make it very difficult to disaggregate student performance by student group and may result in missing growth data for your school, because the testing system cannot connect the results from two separate administrations to the same set of students.

How can EdTec Help?

EdTec’s data or assessment team can help you determine the best method to maintain consistent IDs in your testing systems. This may involve setting up custom exports from your SIS, having EdTec manage the export/import process at regular intervals, or exploring if Clever is a good integration option for your school.  Each option has its limitations, and it’s important to make a well-informed decision based on your needs.

EdTec can also provide custom data analyses of your assessment results. This includes breakdowns by student groups as well as an analysis of longitudinal progress, if the test was given over multiple administrations. Some examples of assessments EdTec has analyzed are NWEA MAP, i-Ready, Renaissance Star, and the SBAC Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICAs).

EdTec helps charters prepare their student outcome data for state and authorizer requirements, in addition to stakeholder engagement.

EdTec also offers affordable licenses to Otus, a data, assessment, and learning management system. Maintaining student performance data in a system like Otus allows your staff, students, and parents to see student growth over time across multiple measures. It also provides a single repository for all performance data that can be disaggregated by student group and used for longitudinal analysis.

Using an assessment and learning management system such as Otus can help to streamline the data collection and reporting process.

Using an assessment and learning management system such as Otus can help to streamline the data collection and reporting process.


For further questions, please contact us at assessment@edtec.com.

Otus logo and images are the property of Otus, LLC and reproduced with permission.d engaging for all students. For example, they hosted a cooking activity where students could participate either in-person or online.