1. Emphasize your goals for professional learning
According to Standards for Professional Learning, the purpose of professional learning is to improve educator practice and student results so you want to emphasize your desire to:
- Understand curricular content, instructional strategies
- Tie standards, assessment, and curriculum strategies
- Build your capacity to teach
- Collaboratively reflect on best practices, successes and current challenges
- Align what classroom to district/school goals and student results
2. Connect the what, why, and how of your professional learning proposal to get funding
Funders look for how your request for professional learning fits into their strategic plans so you want to align their vision/mission with your own classroom, school, and district. Use of data can be persuasive. Also, explain:
- What you need, why you need it, and how the conference will help you accomplish your goal
- How you know about the grantor and your shared interests
3. Possible sources of funding for your conference attendance:
- Local school system. Explain the parallels between MicroSociety, its conference and your school’s efforts to meet district goals. Connect your professional learning goals to closing the gap in student achievement.
- Educational partners. Local/community foundations often have education goals. Your PTA/PTO may also be willing to support your proposal so long as it connects to your capacity to improve student outcomes.
- Professional associations and personal affiliations. Check their websites for education interests. Rotary, chambers of commerce, and other business leadership groups usually have education as a part of their mission. Invite members to visit your school and explain the difference their support could make in your ability to have an impact.
- State categorical aid: targeted financial support. Categorical aid includes efforts to improve instruction and curriculum and support social and health programs. Some funds are distributed to schools/districts based on the number of students eligible for a program or the total number of students. Others grant programs go to local schools automatically or schools that qualify. Try to make a connection between your professional learning proposal and the need for improved teacher capacity and increased student achievement.
4. Is it possible to secure federal funding through the Department of Education?
In the United States, information can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/fund/landing.jhtml Department of Education Grant Opportunities: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/find/edlite-forecast.html?src=ft
- 21st Century Learning Center Grants. Supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours. Information can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/index.html
- Career and Technical Education (CTE). Develops, improves, or expands the use of technology in career and technical education. Offers professional development programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Supports partnerships among local educational agencies, institutions of higher education and other entities to enable students to achieve state academic standards, and career and technical skills, or complete career and technical programs of study.
- IDEA Part D National Programs. Offers competitive grants (including State Personnel Development and Personnel Preparation) to states to help support special educators and to train them in the use of evidence-based strategies.
- Improving Teacher Quality State Grants. Intends to increase academic achievement by improving teacher and principal quality.
- Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). Provides funds to rural districts to meet federal education requirements.
- School Improvement Grant 1003(g) and 1003(a). SEAs use SIG grants to make competitive subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs) that demonstrate the greatest need and the strongest commitment to raise achievement in low performing schools.
- Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). Provides funds to improve student achievement through increased teacher and leader effectiveness.
- Title I. Ensures all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. Part A ARRA funds may be used only to support professional development for teachers, principals, and other staff in Title I schools. Title I, Part A ARRA funds (as well as funds from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (Title IV, Part A of the ESEA) may be used to fund activities designed to: improve school climate in a Title I school operating a school wide program, help staff address bullying, harassment, etc.