How to Raise Funds for Your 1 to 1 Technology Initiative

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How-to-Raise-Funds-for-Your-1-to-1-Technology-Initiative-315How do you implement a 1-to-1 Computing program? This is the question many schools and districts are struggling with. Having understood the potential benefits of the program, they no longer need convincing. They’re fully on board. What they’re looking for are ways to raise funds to implement the program.

Well, there are a few of options you can turn to. You’ve probably read about the San Francisco parents who organize a Tech Search Party yearly to generate funds for their schools. The scavenger hunt helps these parents raise at least $15,000 every year for three schools. You’ve likely also read about schools reallocating resources. One school, for instance, sacrificed more than 60 staff members, including 35 teachers, to raise funds for their 1-1 Computing initiative.

Both of these are potential options a school could choose to look at, drastic as they are. However, we want to bring your attention to three other tested and proven fundraising strategies at your disposal.

1. Grants for 1-to-1 Initiatives

There are multiple technology grants out there that can help you fund your school’s technology needs. Two popular options are the Technology Donors Program and Donors Choose. In both of these programs, teachers compile a list of their classroom technology needs and add them to their “classroom profile.” Donors then get a chance to go through different profiles and choose to donate funding or purchase items on the chosen wish list.

You can also get a grant through:

  • Computers for Learning

    This is a program designed to transfer computers from government agencies and the private sector to schools and educational nonprofits.

  • Computer Recycling Center (CRC)

    CRC collects used computers, refurbishes them, then sends them to Computers and Education for distribution to teachers and schools.

  • Funding Factory

    Funding Factory is a free-to-use fundraising program for schools, nonprofits, and charities.

    Make sure to check Edutopia’s Big List of Educational Grants and Resources, NEA Foundation, Grant Alert, and to find out other grants and grant resources available to schools.

2. Bond Funds

There are two main types of bonds to consider; term bonds and serial bonds. Term bonds are repayable over several years. A long-term bond, for instance, may have a maturity of 20 years. Interests on the bonds are often paid twice every year, with the principal becoming due at the end of the maturity period.

The Plano Independent School District, for instance, recently sold a $131 million, 20-year bond. Up to $8 million of the funds have been set aside for the purchase of educational technology in the district’s 7 schools.

Long-term bonds, however, are a bit risky for short-term investments such as educational technology. Therefore, to minimize risk, more and more schools are turning to the second type of bonds – serial bonds. Serial bonds are a lot more flexible and arranged in such a way that the interest and principal paid each year are about the same.

3. Leasing

Finally, leasing is another option increasingly gaining acceptance as a method to fund educational technology.

Lease agreements are very flexible with initial purchase costs spread over several years. Also, schools get competitive interest rates with the option of flex payments and terms to fit product lifespans, the school’s timetable, and any budget constraints. Remember lease agreements are also quicker to approve and administer compared to both grants and bonds.

The agreements can be made through a finance company, a vendor, or a third-party agency. Agreements made through third-parties are the best as they free your school from committing to a vendor that may lag behind in tech development.

Combining Approaches

The best way for schools to get around budgetary constraints, however, is to combine multiple funding strategies. Don’t just choose bond sales or seek a grant. If you have access to both, take advantage of the opportunity.

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