Chapter 13: Some Innovative Sources of
This chapter contains examples of a
variety of innovative sources of funds and other
resources. As shown in the following scenarios,
innovative people can think of all kinds of ways to
obtain needed resources.
Moursund, D.G. (2002). Obtaining resources for
technology in education: A how-to guide for writing
proposals, forming partnerships, and raising funds.
Copyright (c) David Moursund, 2002.
Section Headings for Chapter 13
People tend to think of proposal writing in terms of
writing large proposals to various federal and state
agencies or to private foundations. However, there are many
other sources of resources. This chapter contains examples
of a variety of innovative sources of funds and other
resources. As shown in the following scenarios, innovative
people can think of all kinds of ways to obtain needed
Ellen is an elementary school teacher interested in
computer technology. Her goal is that all students in her
school should develop a reasonable level of computer
literacy before they move on to middle school. She has read
the ISTE National
Educational Technology Standards for students, and she
feels that students in her school can meet these goals. She
has identified many barriers to this goal. One of the major
barriers is a lack of knowledge on the part of teachers in
Ellen is willing to devote some of her personal time
during weekends, vacations, and summer to help her fellow
teachers learn about computers. However, many of the
teachers do not have appropriate computer facilities at
Ellen's solution to this problem is to write a proposal
that seeks permission for teachers to borrow the school's
equipment on weekends, vacations, and during the summer.
This proposal is written to the administrations of both the
school and school district. In the proposal, Ellen agrees to
provide free instruction to teachers who borrow equipment.
She argues that many school districts throughout the nation
have used such loan programs.
Once the initial program is successfully implemented,
Ellen expands it by arranging to loan computer equipment to
students for home use. She encourages students to help their
parents and siblings learn to use the equipment.
Development at Staff Meetings
Pat's school has excellent computer facilities, which
many students and some faculty have learned to use.
Unfortunately, many of the faculty neither use the
facilities nor appreciate the range of knowledge and skills
students have developed. Many of the teachers do not know
how to encourage students to use the school's educational
Pat and several other teachers conceive of the idea of
having five-minute demonstrations on student computer use at
regular faculty meetings. In a short demonstration, students
would show what they can do and describe how it affects
their academic pursuits. A student might demonstrate some of
the steps in desktop publishing, perhaps using desktop
presentation tools. Another student might demonstrate online
gathering of data in a science lab, or doing research using
the Web. Still another student might show some of the
contents of an electronic portfolio being developed for a
In this case, the sought-after resource is mainly the
valuable time of the school staff. Pat wants the staff
members to contribute five minutes per staff meeting to
broadening their knowledge of student computer use.
This same type of students demonstrations project is
suitable for proposing to PTO and school board members.
Indeed, it can be effective at almost any meeting of adults.
However, the goals might be different. For example, such
demonstrations at school board meetings might be part of a
campaign to get the school board to allocate more resources
to computer technology. At a meeting of a civic group, the
goal might be to convince the group to do some fund-raising
for your school.
District Staff Development Funds
Virtually every school district has a staff development
budget and allocates one or more days each year to staff
development. In some districts, these staff development
funds are allocated to the individual schools, so decision
making occurs at the school level. In other cases, funds are
allocated directly to the individual teachers, who must
write brief proposals to get their share of the funds. In
any event, a school or school district's staff development
efforts represent a sizable resource that you might cause to
be allocated to better fit your perceived needs.
In the school district where Sandra lives, many teachers
have a computer at home. Sandra is a computer whiz, equally
comfortable with hardware and software on both of the major
computer platforms. The school district strongly encourages
teachers to purchase computers and allows them to acquire
computers at the "school buy" price. This situation gives
Sandra an idea. She notes that each teacher in the district
is allocated $300 per year for professional development
activities and that few of the teachers use their home
computers to access the Internet for "work" purposes.
She does some needs assessment and finds that the
teachers do not use their home computers to access the
Internet because they do not have modems or know how to use
them. She also learns that the school district has dial-in
access to its Internet connection and provides free Internet
service to teachers.
In conjunction with a couple of her friends, Sandra sets
up a small business. One part of the business provides a
free workshop for teachers that explains the advantages of
using the Internet from one's home. The business also offers
information on how to write a proposal to get the school
district to pay for Internet training and a modem. The
business offers a $250 package deal that includes a modem,
some print materials, and personal in-home Internet
training. The business is designed to pay Sandra and her
fellow workers relatively good wages for the work they
Beth enjoys trying out new software and sharing the
results with her fellow teachers. Her small school district
does not have a paid computer coordinator. Beth proposes to
establish and operate a district-wide software preview
center. She agrees to do the work on a volunteer basis.
There are some modest costs to the district, such as postage
and clerical help.
The general idea is for the center to be located in
Beth's school. She will use the school's computer facilities
and students to preview the software, and the school's
library to store it. She will solicit software that
interests her or that she thinks will interest other
teachers in the district. Because her solicitations are
backed up by her title and position as director of the
school district's software preview center, she is likely to
succeed in obtaining software.
Part of what Beth is seeking is the director's title and
permission to use district stationery--two valuable
resources. The school district can provide her with the
director's title at no cost. Both the school district and
Beth benefit from this arrangement. If this project is
really successful, it could grow into a paid position for
The High Tech School District hires a number of new
teachers, school administrators, and support staff each
year. These replace personnel who have retired or left their
positions for other reasons.
The district has a goal that all employees will be
functionally computer literate at a level that is fully
supportive of their particular jobs. For example, the
custodian is to understand that computers can be damaged by
harsh cleaning reagents and that they require reliable power
sources. The principals are to understand the needs of
teachers working to integrate computer use throughout the
The school district has developed and implemented a
hiring policy to support its computer literacy goals. A
committee has analyzed the computer literacy requirements of
every position in the school district, and the requirements
are updated yearly. The knowledge, skills, and experience to
meet these requirements are part of the posted
qualifications for every job that becomes available in the
school district. In addition, these computer literacy
specifications are used to help guide the district's human
This strategy can be implemented at minimal cost. The
initial effort to analyze the various jobs in the school
district and determine computer literacy requirements may
take considerable time. However, this can be part of the
ongoing human resources development of the school district.
Each time a position opens up in the district, the computer
literacy requirements for that position can be reanalyzed
Building or Remodeling Schools
Suppose a school district is planning to propose a
bonding issue that will pay for building a new school or
extensive remodeling of existing schools.
New schools and remodeled schools should contain
extensive facilities for educational technology. For
example, every classroom should be wired or cabled for
telecommunications so that every student will eventually be
able to use telecommunications extensively and
It is common to include computer hardware, software,
curriculum materials, and staff development in these types
of school bonds. A few determined parents and teachers can
often make this happen. In these circumstances, a modest
effort may bring a very large amount of money (perhaps
millions of dollars) into instructional technology.
On a smaller scale, each school district has funds for
maintenance and minor remodeling. Some of these funds might
be allocated to making classrooms more suitable for using
desktop presentation facilities. Small changes in the
lighting and light switches can make a significant
School District Technology
A large number of school districts throughout the country
have passed bond levies to purchase computer facilities.
Details on whether this is allowed--and what can be
purchased with such funds--vary considerably among different
states. If the laws allow it, a district might be seeking
funds for a combination of hardware, software, networking,
electrical wiring, and staff development.
A large amount of funds from a bond levy can provide a
big boost to a district's computer technology program.
However, this approach is also fraught with difficulties.
Typically, the bonds are paid back over a large number of
years. Meanwhile, the money is spent and the computer
facilities become outdated in a relatively small number of
years. What happens after five year, when almost all of the
computers in a district are beginning to wear out and are
A bond levy may be rooted in a long-range strategic play
for technology in the district. The play should include
provisions for what happens when the new facilities begin to
become antiquated. For example, the play might call for a
gradual increase in computer technology as a line item in
the district budget. The school board would commit itself to
this gradual change as part of the overall effort to help
all students become computer literate.
of Library Resources
Over the years, the scope of the traditional school
library has broadened--libraries have become media centers.
It is now common for a school library to offer print
materials, tapes, audio CDs, computer software, CD-ROMs, and
access to various online computer services. Funds that once
were used to purchase books and magazines are reallocated
for use in purchasing CD-ROMs and online magazine
A library media center will likely contain several
computers. It may also contain video and digital cameras for
loan to classrooms and perhaps to individual students and
Finally, a library media center may be an excellent
source of one-on-one training related to online searches and
the appropriate use of the other library media facilities.
Many librarians have become library media specialists,
particularly skilled in using computers and computer
networks to retrieve information.
[Note: From time to time I have mentioned this set of
ideas in editorials written for Learning and Leading with
Technology, published by the International Society for
Technology in Education. Some readers have pointed out to me
that library-media budgets have been cut to the bare bones
and then further in many school districts. Thus, the
library-media center may have greater need for resources
than does the school's IT program.]
Many schools have active PTOs. Such organizations are a
type of partnership between parents and the school. Each
contributes toward the operation of the partnership, and
each benefits from it.
Many PTOs have significantly helped their school in the
field of technology in education. The most common sources of
help are one-shot or continuing efforts to raise money for
hardware and software. Sometimes these efforts are only a
part of the PTO's overall fund-raising activities, and
sometimes they are aimed specifically at obtaining funds for
The PTO of High Tech Elementary School holds a Computer
Fun Night one evening each year. This annual fund-raising
event has grown into a large and well-orchestrated affair.
There is an admission price, and many tickets are purchased
merely as a donation by people and companies not directly
associated with the school. Students use the school's
desktop-publishing resources to develop a newsletter and
flyers to market the event. They sell ad space in the
newsletter to local companies.
The Computer Fun Night includes the sale of food items
donated by parents and local companies, prizes donated by
both local and other companies, entertainment,
demonstrations of computer-related technology, raffles, and
other activities. For a modest fee, parents can obtain a
computer printout of a picture taken with a digital camera
and processed on the spot. The Computer Fun Night is a
lively event, drawing coverage in the local media.
Students demonstrating their computer skills and
displaying the products of their computer knowledge are
fundamental to the success of Computer Fun Night. Many
students are involved. There is ample opportunity for them
to sit at a computer with their parents and show them how to
Many schools now have site-based councils that help in
the governance of the school. The membership of these
councils typically includes some teachers, school
administrators, parents, students, and perhaps other people
not directly affiliated with the school. The following
description is based on a recent site-based council meeting.
Some details have been modified to protect the identity of
the school and council members.
A few years ago I was invited to make a presentation to
the site-based council of a middle school (grades
6&endash;8). My presentation was designed to increase the
council members' knowledge of the field of technology in
education and provide a little guidance on where they might
lead their school.
I began my presentation by having the attendees introduce
themselves, state their relationship to the council, and say
what they would like graduates of their school to know and
be able to do with respect to technology. While this used up
nearly 15 minutes of my allotted time, it was undoubtedly
the most important part of the presentation. The pattern of
their responses can be summarized as follows:
- School personnel were mostly conservative about
expectations for technology use in school; they exhibited
widely varying levels of computer knowledge.
- Parents had less conservative expectations about
technology use and had higher expectations for graduates
of the school.
- Students had still higher expectations for graduates
of the school. What they lacked in knowledge they more
than made up for in enthusiasm and sincerity.
After my presentation, one of the students described a
visit she had made to a neighboring middle school. The two
middle schools are served by the same high school. She
talked about a number of the exciting computer-related
activities going on at the neighboring middle school. She
showed samples of a newspaper that the students develop and
desktop publish. She noted that, on average, students at
this neighboring school knew far more about computers than
students in her school. She then presented a list of
hardware and software products she felt her school needed,
and she asked the site-based council to approve funding for
There was a great deal of laughter. One of the council
leaders indicated that her request would be taken under
consideration. Several parents and teachers whispered
comments along the lines of "welcome to the real world."
Next on the agenda was a report from council members who
had visited schools in another town--a town not noted for
its high-quality education or even its interest in
education. This group noted that in terms of technology in
education, their own middle school was far behind schools in
the town they visited. They said they were both surprised
and embarrassed by how their own school had not kept up with
changes in this field.
After two extensions to the length of the meeting, the
net result was that the site-based council voted to
immediately spend $4,000 for hardware and software!
Indeed, welcome to the "real world" of school politics!
If I had to guess, I would say that I had witnessed a
carefully orchestrated event that had achieved its aims.
Moreover, it laid the groundwork for future
technology-related funding requests. Several weeks later I
was informed that the school had supported several of its
teachers in attending a regional computers-in-education
- Select two or three of the scenarios or examples from
this chapter. Analyze these scenarios and assess how they
conform to the components required in a formal,
competitive grant-writing situation. Compare and contrast
how some of these components are actually included in
these less formal situations.
- Examine an organization such as a school. Make a list
of existing resources whose use might be modified to
better support technology in education. Develop a brief
proposal on how to achieve such a modification of
resource use in the school.