Using the Custom Search for Special Needs
While finding funding for schools and teachers is laborious at best, finding funding for special needs students or classrooms can be downright discouraging. Special needs materials are often more costly than general education materials, so how do you go about finding the best grants to support your needs?
When searching GetEdFunding, it is best to start small and then gradually broaden your search criteria. It is helpful to begin with the most basic search feature: geographic area. Start with the state you are in and extend your search to ‘National’ if needed. Remember that your state search might show some grants for neighboring states because many foundations offer grants in several states.
Next, select your grade level. If you teach a specific grade level, use just that grade level. Otherwise, you can check multiple grade level boxes.
The same strategy applies to your school type. If you teach in a public school, choose only ‘Public.’ The check box ‘Private’ includes private, independent, and faith-based schools.
Focus Areas, Content Areas, Skills
With the multitude of focus and content areas available in GetEdFunding, how do you hone in on what you are looking for? The most obvious choice is selecting the ‘Special Needs’ box in the focus areas. However, you may discover even more grants by reviewing additional categories. For example, if you ar
e seeking equipment, try looking for funding in the ‘Facilities/Maintenance’ or ‘Recreation’ categories. Even ‘Safe and Drug Free Schools’ may yield results if you are looking for adaptive equipment to make your classroom safer. If a foundation does not specifically state that their funding is for special needs, it does not mean that they won’t consider proposals from special education schools or teachers.
For some projects, you may consider selecting the ‘Health’ box in the content area of the custom search. Programmatic funding for special education might also be available when using the ‘General Education’ box. You can check just one box or a combination of boxes.
When identifying your search criteria, try to be as creative as possible by looking beyond the most obvious reasons you are seeking funding. For instance, examine what your proposed project is, what needs you have that you want to address with funding, and which details are important. Foundations are often looking for outstanding proposals and ideas, and might have a special interest in funding special needs programs or projects. Try to create an innovative proposal and dare to push limits.
If you are unsure if your project would be eligible for a funding opportunity, consider contacting the foundation and asking prior to submitting a proposal. Getting in touch with the foundation is also a great way to introduce yourself to the funder and begin building a relationship.
There are numerous grant opportunities available to special education proposals when creative search strategies are applied. To uncover the best funding options for your needs, start small by thinking first about your local geographical area. Be willing to experiment with different focus areas and think about creative ways you can extend your search criteria beyond the immediate ‘Special Needs’ focus. By applying these tips, you are sure to discover funding opportunities worth applying for.