Zoom Video Communications: The ABCs of Grant Success for Schools and Colleges


The ABCs of Grant Funding Success for Schools and Universities

Building resilience and embracing flexibility in education are priorities for schools and universities. While constrained budgets may have prevented educational institutions from investing in future projects, billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds are available to help schools and universities plan for their long-term needs. . But even with so much funding available, finding the right grant opportunities can be a challenge.

Zoom Grant Partner, Learn Design Apply (LDA), works with educational organizations to identify and secure funding. Cheryl Henshaw, President and Founder of LDA, shares her insights on why schools and institutions use their funding and how to successfully navigate the grant application process.

There are many grant opportunities – what would you recommend for those not sure where to start?

Henshaw: Many people start by researching grant opportunities, but we recommend that you first define your needs and the challenges you face in order to find the funding that best suits your goals.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you start the grant search:

  • What is my organization’s eligibility? Are you a 501(c)(3)? A state or local government entity? A for-profit organization? This will help you narrow your search and determine which grants your organization is eligible for.
  • What is the scope of the project we are undertaking? This will give you an idea of ​​the amount of funding you will potentially need and can help you identify funding organizations that have programs that will meet your financial needs.
  • Who are our project partners? Identifying these partners will help you define your scope, project expectations, and the roles each party will play in contributing to the application.

How do you see schools using these grant opportunities to plan the classroom of tomorrow?

Henshaw: Many leaders and administrators are investing in flexible solutions that give schools options when faced with unforeseen challenges. This includes technology that enables hybrid models of learning and educational continuity – such as materials to help remote and in-person students learn and software to activate video-connected spaces.

Schools also recognize that certain changes in day-to-day operations, such as hybrid working arrangements, will become permanent. They use these grants as a way to get around in the “new normal” as opposed to returning to the “old normal”. Some examples might include switching to a cloud-based phone solution so teachers and staff can work remotely if necessary while still being able to conduct professional communications.

What are the top concerns you hear from schools when considering what to spend the funding on?

Henshaw: Some of the stimulus funding opportunities have different eligibility requirements than schools may be used to. For example, some grant applications focus on eligible activities or use cases, rather than specific items.

Many applicants want to ensure that the items they purchase meet the eligibility criteria – they don’t want to risk funding being ‘taken back’. We’ve found that as long as you provide a good narrative and rationale for your purchases – directly linking purchases to funding priorities – this concern is largely unwarranted. We also encourage districts to contact their state Department of Education throughout the process to verify that the correct processes are being followed.

We’ve also heard from educational institutions that they want to make sure their purchases have a long lifespan. They don’t want this to be a temporary pandemic-related purchase, but a long-term investment that will benefit their students and educators for years to come. Education leaders should have a clear vision of the role technology will play in their school, district, or campus five to ten years from now, and choose investments that support that strategy.

What advice can you offer for a successful grant application?

Henshaw: No matter how well-written an application or how qualified the organization, many grants go unfunded because small details were overlooked or minor mistakes were made. Give yourself the best chance of success by following these simple tips:

  • Follow the grant guidelines to the letter.
    • Details matter in grants. Make sure you have all the required items.

  • Start early!
    • You may need time to find information or write your story.

  • Ask for help.
    • Find out what resources you have to help you.

  • Find the right grant program for your organization.
    • Make sure your program and proposal aligns with what the grant is funding and prioritizing, and that your organization is eligible.

  • Ask another pair of eyes to examine your proposal or stories.
    • Don’t let small mistakes like typos creep into your application!

Discover our grant funding page for more information, visit zoom.us/education to see how schools and universities are using Zoom to teach, learn and connect.

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