Before the Covid-19 pandemic, most educators who used GetEdFunding (GEF) found it an intuitively easy and effective way to supplement shoestring budgets for technology and other needs. During the pandemic, many of them found the funding opportunities provided by GEF even more relevant and accessed them even more frequently than before.
These were among the findings of a 2021 survey conducted among 64,000+ users of GetEdFunding.com, a vetted collection of thousands of relevant and innovative grants and awards sponsored by CDW-G, a leading provider of educational technology.
A total of 501 respondents from 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia—a representative sample of the site’s users—answered the Zarca Interactive online survey between March 9 and April 30, 2021.
Grade levels for which participants are responsible span the education spectrum. Distribution was close to even among K–12 grades, which comprised the bulk of respondents. In addition, 22 percent were connected with PreK and 18 percent with higher education—a six percentage point increase over the proportion in the most recent prior survey, conducted in 2019. Percentages are based on multiple responses to grade levels for which respondents are responsible.
Technology grants high on educators’ wish lists
More than a third of participants in the survey—36 percent—have job titles indicating likely interest in grants for technology purchases. These include educators directly involved in the grant process (writers, administrators and coordinators), technology administrators and staff (CIO/CTO, IT managers, technology integrationists, coordinators, directors, and support staff), as well as library/media specialists.
Twenty-eight percent say more than 25 percent of their technology budgets come from outside sources, such as grants, PTAs, local corporations and other sources. Thus, technology needs are high on the list of subject/content areas for which users are most interested in getting grants:
- STEM, 25 percent
- Technology, 23 percent
- Literacy, 17 percent
- Career and college readiness, 12 percent
- At-risk students’ education, 11 percent
Major new funding sources emerged not long before the survey was conducted: the $54.3 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II), made available as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. After the survey began, billions of dollars more became available through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III), also authorized under ARP.
Ninety-five percent of those surveyed anticipate using ESSER II funds. Number one in expected usage—voted on while the pandemic was in full force—is cleaning/sanitizing products, 46 percent. But technology-related categories are the next three: laptops, second at 41 percent of responses, followed by infrastructure to support remote learning, 40 percent, and Internet hotspots, 37 percent.
Users say GetEdFunding is easy, intuitive way to find grants
Sixty-two percent have applied for funding opportunities, and of those, 51 percent found those opportunities on GetEdFunding. And of those respondents, 56 percent received grants. Sixty-nine percent of users say GetEdFunding is an easy, very intuitive way to identify the kinds of grants they want.
Forty-seven percent of respondents have applied for six or more grants in their career. Ten percent have not sought grants. Their reasons for not applying include:
- Lack of time, 39 percent—down 13 percentage points from the 2019 survey
- Hard to identify appropriate opportunities, 38 percent
- Often don’t find out about opportunities until it’s too late to apply, 33 percent
- The grant application process is intimidating, 23 percent
- We do not have personnel to undertake the grant writing process, 15 percent
- Our school/district/campus budget suffices to meet any needs, 13 percent—up 10 percentage points from 2019.
Forty percent are with a school, district, campus or organization that has a grant writing specialist on staff or an individual who works with it to identify and prepare applications—up 11 percentage points from 2019.
But comments from the educators indicate a continued need for an easy, effective way to access grants such as those they can find on GetEdFunding:
“Typically, an individual applies on his own time. Not much support from a team.”
“I am a board member and so volunteer my time to grant writing. I am not a formal or educated grant writer, so it is all a learning process.”
“We can ask for assistance from the district grant specialist, but she rarely replies.”
On the other hand, some respondents seem to have access to clearly understood grant writing roles and procedures, enhancing their ability to use the kind of grant information GetEdFunding provides. A sample comment:
“1. A formal request for grant research, review, or development is made and approved by administration 2. Grant writer receives the request and reviews a grant program, researches grants, or develops a grant application 3. Grant writer completes the request and the administration decides next steps 4. Grant writer works with staff to develop grant applications 5. Grant application is submitted; if awarded, program staff manage the award.”
Top ways in which GetEdFunding users find out about the site are:
- Referred by a friend or colleague, 24 percent
- Search engine, 24 percent
- Received an email, 16 percent
Relevancy rating of GEF newsletter soars to 90 percent
In addition, 56 percent of respondents get the GetEdFunding newsletter, and 63 percent of them say its length is “just right.” Of those who answered a question about grant opportunities featured in the newsletter, 90 percent rate them as relevant to extremely relevant, up from 75 percent in 2019. Thirty percent subscribe to the Discover GetEdFunding Blog, and 99 percent find its content relevant to extremely relevant, up from 92 percent in 2019.
Happy with their own GetEdFunding results, 71 percent of respondents are extremely or very likely to recommend the site to their colleagues:
- Users have referred an average of one to three colleagues to GetEdFunding, while six percent have steered more than 16 to the site.
- Respondents have forwarded opportunities they found on the site to an average of one to three colleagues. Ten percent have referred such opportunities to more than 16 others.
Fifty percent say social media are very or extremely important to their work/professional life. Of 12 social and professional networking websites listed, the top five with which respondents have an account are:
- Facebook, 76 percent
- LinkedIn, 62 percent
- Instagram, 54 percent
- Twitter, 51 percent
- Pinterest, 48 percent
The order remains the same when users are asked which social networking service they would use for work/professional reasons if they could only use one. The leaders are:
- Facebook, 27 percent
- LinkedIn, 25 percent
- Instagram, 11 percent
Sixty-three percent say they are very or extremely likely to use a social networking site in a typical week. The most popular purposes for using them are:
- Exchange of information with peers, 54 percent
- Professional networking, 45 percent
- Personal professional development, 44 percent