As educators, teachers fully understand the value and importance of providing innovative, engaging, and accessible education. Teachers are dedicated to delivering this type of high-quality education to students, but unfortunately, it’s all too common that proper education funding is not a priority. When funding is lacking or inadequate, student learning and related resources may be affected, and teachers end up paying classroom expenses out of their own pocket.
That is where scholarships and grants for teachers come in. Each year, millions of dollars are awarded to classroom educators to improve the academic experience for both the teacher and student.
How are scholarships and grants awarded?
There are several different ways that a teacher may benefit from these types of financial assistance , but first it’s important to understand the difference between them.
Grants are often need-based, which means they are awarded based on financial necessity. For example, working for a low-income school may increase the likelihood of eligibility. In this situation, a teacher may focus on applying for grants that provide funds to improve the student experience. With extra funding, teachers may deliver to students new supplies and resources such as quality reading materials, new technology, art supplies, or perhaps a unique field trip.
Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically merit-based and are awarded for special accomplishments, skills, or to meet unique challenges. Teachers who are looking to expand their skills and broaden their knowledge would want to research teacher scholarships that specifically provide financial support for continuing education. These types of scholarships are designed to help teachers enhance their professional practice and the quality of instruction they are delivering. The funds may be applied to cover tuition, fees, or other education-related expenses such as course books and materials.
What’s involved in the application process?
It’s prudent at the beginning of the process to do research and ascertain what type of financial award would be most beneficial for the goal or problem that needs solving.
Some examples include teaching a class of students who struggle with reading, or working with advanced students who are exceptionally talented in the areas of science and math. A grant could be provided to purchase new books for the students. Teachers applying for a professional development scholarship should consider what new skills or abilities they would bring to their classroom.
After classroom, teaching, and professional development goals are determined, the next step in the process is to begin searching for available grants and scholarships.
Finding the right scholarship or grant
Government organizations, both federal and state, are great places to search for scholarships and grants for teachers. Another strategy is to check private and nonprofit organizations, as well as local community resources. Clubs and professional associations also often provide these types of financial awards.
Finally, there are many online directories and websites that list awards and endowments. As with any search for funding, however, teachers should be aware of potential scams. In particular, caution should be taken when providing personal information. Also, it is unlikely that there will be a fee or cost associated with applying.
Completing an application
For teachers who have never filled out an application for one of these types of awards, the experience can be a bit daunting. While every application will be different, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
make the application stand out by being creative
focus on the need or problem that will be solved
if necessary, include how the results will be measured and tracked
double check the application to make sure there are no typos or errors
tailor the application to the organization providing the award
closely follow the application directions and do not miss the deadline
Here are a few popular scholarships and grants for which educators may consider applying:
Fund for Teachers has awarded 30 million dollars to almost 8,000 teachers since 2001. Its grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 to teachers in pre-kindergarten to grade 12. The grants are for self-designed fellowships to support student success, enrich the teaching practice, and strengthen schools and communities.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics offers a grant of up to $6,000 to math teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through eight who have demonstrated a commitment to mathematics education and learning.
The National Education Association Foundation offers grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 that support the professional development of its members including attendance at conferences and travel-abroad programs.
The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation provides grants up to $10,000 per year for three years. These are offered to both teachers and small teams of educators working from kindergarten to grade 12 and can be used for professional development.
The funding available to teachers far outweighs the work involved in the research and application process. Grants and scholarships represent a powerful opportunity for committed educators to not only advance their craft, but to positively impact their students, schools, and communities.