The absolute best money saving idea: GRANTS. No lies – 75% of the stuff in my classroom I have gotten from grants. I have gotten 2 iPads, 2 iPods, 2 laptops, a flip camera, furniture, countless packets of laminating, field trips, and a good percentage of the Lake Shore Learning catalog (why is everything so dang cute from there?!).

Where did most of this wonderfulness come from? Donors Choose! If you aren’t on donors choose, I demand you go immediately to donorschoose.org and set up a profile and write your first grant. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do it.

If you do not know what donors choose is – it’s an AMAZING website where you basically online shop at one of their designated vendors, explain why are you are asking for the resources, and post your request. Anyone can go online and donate. Once it’s fulfilled, donors choose sends you your materials. It has fulfilled over $100 million worth of grants in the past 10 years and partners with everyone from the Gates Foundation, Chase, Disney, UPS, and many more. It has an 80% success rate for fulfilling grants under $400. It doesn’t matter where you live – people from all over the world fulfill these grants on a daily basis. It rocks my world and it’s about to rock yours.

A lot of the materials I have gotten from DonorsChoose I have been able to use in creative ways and make products that I can reuse endlessly! Things like laminating pages, ink, velcro, and computer software can equal into thousands of resources! For ideas on how to use these items to make unique curriculum resources check out my teachers pay teachers store!

 

Tips for Donors Choose grant writing:

  • Start with small grants $200-$500 – remember when you are shopping DonorsChoose adds a percent (for shipping, costs, etc.).
  • Keep it short! Nobody is going to a read a 4 paragraph description of why you need pencils.
  • Post a super cute pic – this seems obvious but I’ve seen some pics that could use an update!
  • Wait to ask your friends/family. Wait until your grant is a week or 2 away from expiring if it hasn’t been fulfilled yet – then hit up your friends/family. Save your friend requests for when you really need it. May as well have your grant fulfilled before asking people you know 🙂 If it is getting down to the wire send a super sweet mass email or post it on your facebook with the link – it is always the best feeling to see your friends supporting you! Sometimes you will be surprised by who donates!
  • Sign up for groupon – they do a groupon for donorschoose where they match what you buy – so if you buy a $20 donation – groupon matches the $20 and it will be $40 towards your project! This is another great opportunity to hit up your friends because it’s double your impact!
  • Check out donors choose’s Teacher Newsletter and Grant Funding Opportunities – they often have special deals by city or state for specific types of projects. You might want to tailor your grant to the stipulations to get special deals.
I have also gotten some really awesome grants through other sources. There can be some more leg work but the pay off for some of these can be huge! Some of these types of grants may be more flexible to fit to a special project.
  • Find out what other grant opportunities are specific for your city or state. Here are some great websites to search by your grade level, type of grant, city, etc:
http://www.grantwrangler.com/ I have found some really cool grants from here!
http://www.eschoolnews.com/category/funding/grants-and-funding/ monthly newsletter with a grant writing section
  • Also check out:
  •  Here are some for Chicago:
Chicago Foundation for Education http://www.cfegrants.org/
Oppenheimer Family Foundation http://www.offtig.org/
  • A great grant writing resource:
Good luck in all your grant writing activities!

 

Sasha Long
Sasha Long

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