When I was beginning science teacher 20 years ago, a very wise science education professor told me to find the money and don’t buy supplies for my class out of my own paycheck. It was one of the most beneficial pieces of advice given to a new teacher. He was right, there were places to get funds for science and science grants if I kept my ears and eyes open.
While I haven’t always followed his advice and do spend some of my own money (like all teachers), I’ve had good success building up my arsenal of equipment and supplies over the years through donations and grants.
These are my favorite go-to locations for funds.
This is my favorite place in the past couple of years to submit a proposal when I want to try a new lab and need supplies. The first time I tried it, I was BLOWN AWAY, by the response from my families. I sent an email out with the link to my project to my students’ parents and was fully funded within two hours. In addition, so many gave money behind the requested amount that I was able to buy additional supplies for another lab. Donors choose is a great way to search for matching science grants also.
Since then, I’ve purchased soil probes, basic lab supplies and Kill-a-Watt meters all through donors choose.
Tips for Donors Choose:
- Don’t ask for too much at once. My proposals range from $200 to $600 which is easier to be fully funded.
- Put in a request even if you can’t send the link to your families due to teaching in a high poverty school. A lot of corporations or people will fund science and especially environmental science projects. My last two received funds that way–without any donations from my parents. Put in a proposal and let it sit there for several weeks and see what happens.
- Be sure to do the thank you notes and pictures to make sure you stay in good standing with DonorsChoose.
Our school PTA raises money for school events, scholarships, science grants and teacher equipment grants. Ask your PTA if they have a request form for equipment or supplies. I make sure I put in smaller requests for items costing $150 or less since the PTA also funds a lot of other worthy endeavors.
In my town, we have the Santa Clarita Education Foundation. Its a group that raises money and give science grants (and other subjects) to teachers. I’ve put in science grant requests several times over the years and have had good success getting funded. I make sure to explicitly state how I’m going to use the materials and how it will benefit all students to gain higher scientific skills. Make some calls and see if your town or area has a foundation.
When budgets were slashed in California during the recession and at the same time, lawsuits prevented us from charging kids for certain activities (like band or football), our school began its own foundation to help raise money to cover any gap between donations and costs for programs.
The foundation raises money with golf tournaments, auctions and plain old donations. I have received science grants for several pieces of equipment from them.
If your school does not have a foundation, perhaps talk to your admin, other teachers and parents to see if there’s interest.
Resources at the School
Find funds at your school that aren’t well-publicized. Make friends with all your administrators, because you never know which admin will control which fund in a given year.
These sources include GATE (gifted and talented), Title I, and AP funds. (The College Board gives $10 back to the school for each full-priced exam to fund teacher training, test administration and supplies).
Ask your principal
Principals usually have discretionary funds. I have, on occasion, written a proposal to my principal to fund a certain piece of equipment, such as a wastewater treatment kit or a sub to take my kids on a field trip. I don’t do this very often now since we have a school foundation I can make requests to. I’ve had a principal approve and deny proposals so I try to make this a rare occurrence.
Various Science Grants for Teachers
There are many grants for specific items or for professional development. I haven’t personally experienced any of these nor vetted them.