Don't Leave Money on the Table: Tips for Funding Professional Development
Whether you teach university-level anthropology or seventh grade science, professional development is critical for staying up-to-date on the latest developments, research, and skills in your field, and for knowing how to incorporate this information into your classroom.
However, finding the funds for a professional development opportunity can seem daunting. Karen Kovach Webb, Fund for Teachers Executive Director and Past Field-Based Learning Seminar speaker, says each year dollars go unclaimed because educators don’t know how to apply–or that the funds are even there in the first place. Here are a few key take-aways to get you started on your own professional development path:
Don’t leave money on the table
Since its inception in 2001, Fund for Teachers has awarded educators more than $20 million in grants. But, said Kovach Webb, “I have money sitting on the table every year.” First, don’t find an organization and develop an idea around what you think they will fund. “Find your passion first, and then you can start searching,” she said. “And once you start searching you will find a funder. There is a surprisingly large pool of people who have money to give away.”
Know your audience
Once you’re ready to apply, know what the organization’s grant writers are looking for and what they’re willing to fund. “People that give money away, like Fund for Teachers, have a really specific criteria that they’re looking at,” she said. Use the guidelines of the grant application as an outline for your proposal, reflecting some of the same language and wording when appropriate. Remember, too, that funding organizations want to help teachers make a positive impact on the world. “You have to be able to tell us how you're going to do that in a way that’s compelling,” she said.
Paint a picture
As you construct your proposal, get specific. Explain your goals. If you want to go abroad, said Kovach Webb, don’t just say you want to do a language and cultural immersion program. “Tell us what you're going to learn, why you're going to learn it, how are you going to share it with your peers, how are you going to share it with your students,” she said. Lastly, put yourself in the grant writer’s shoes. Ask yourself: how can this opportunity have a positive impact? “For me as a funder, that gives me a story to tell,” she said.
Fund for Teachers is currently accepting grant applications for 2017; the application deadline is January 31, 2017. See fundforteachers.org for more information.