Most of the advice I was able to find from teachers on getting grants for iPads to be used in their school classrooms involved begging a principal or technology coordinator to find money in the budget for an iPad project. And for most teachers looking to incorporate this exciting mobile technology into their classroom lesson plans, that simply won’t work. Nationwide, school districts are already underfunded and the vast majority simply don’t have room in their budgets to purchase this type of technology. If they did, you wouldn’t be searching for grants. Grant support for school iPad purchases looks almost non-existent. As we covered in our article on Apple Grants, the iPad maker doesn’t actually offer any form of grant program. Instead, they do provide discounted pricing through Apple in Education. And if a school has older Apple products that still have some value on the secondary market, these can be turned in through Apple’s recycling program with a credit given for the purchase of new hardware. With that said, I was able to find one viable route for iPad funding where teachers from coast to coast are experiencing some success.
Donors Choose is an awesome non-profit program that was founded in 2000 in an effort to help teachers get supplies their kids so desperately need. Teachers in all fifty states can make any request for a classroom need through the organization’s well designed website. It is actually a pretty simple concept and also very easy to use. Visitors to the website pick what project they would like to fund and can donate any amount they wish to give from a single dollar to full funding for each project. Around 70% of projects hit their funding goals through this method, suggesting that most teachers will find success using Donors Choose to source their classroom needs. It’s no wonder that celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert endorse this great program. Even First Lady Michelle Obama gave it a recent nod.
Unlike the menacing prospect of writing up grant proposals, the Donors Choose interface is not so difficult. If you are a teacher who is seeking help with obtaining any kind of needed classroom materials for your students, just go to the website and click on the link at the top right that says “I’m a teacher.” You will then be taken to a page where you can fill out some details on the exact items you need. You will also describe how these materials are going to benefit your students. Once your request is complete, the website’s donors can choose your project to fund. And there are many individuals and companies who regularly come to the site to make donations. You can also promote your project and drive others to the site for donations through social networking. This is a great way to involve your community, parents and school support groups in the fundraising of your own classroom project. Once your project reaches its funding goal, Donors Choose will purchase the resources you requested and ship them directly to your school.
Here are a few tips to ensure the success of your project. When writing up your request, make sure to use proper grammar and title your project with pizzazz to make it stand out from other similar requests. Put your heart into your classroom’s story to excite donors into supporting your project. Historically requests under $400 are most likely to hit their funding goals. For this reason, limit your iPad requests to one device at a time and target the lower cost models. So once you have a completed request filled out, Donors Choose will handle the rest. They will expect you to respond to email and to share photos and updates through their website. Donors Choose also allows your classroom to send thank you notes to donors to your project through a safe and protected manner.
Click this link to review examples of current iPad requests listed on Donors Choose. You can also use the website’s search tool to browse requests for any other regularly needed classroom item.