Funding Tips

Successful Funding for Successful Educators

Parallax’s educational customers have success obtaining funding. This is because you’re part of a dynamic group of educators who make an effort to deliver a strong technical education and you’re passionate about your programs. 

You’re likely motivated, connected to your professional groups and conferences, enjoy the machines and tools in your class — and supportive of your students’ interests. Simply put, you create your own success.

Our educational customers normally specify their own hardware for their programs. 

These choices usually are not part of a district-wide, top-down implementation where directors or administration have secured the funding and made predetermined choices on your behalf (unless you’re using Lego robots, which for some reason get this support). 

This top-down model happens, but it’s just not as common and may not create the result you envisioned. Take the initiative and you will be rewarded.

Jackie Tan of South Tahoe Middle school successfully obtained funding for her distance learning program with the BBC micro:bit module. She describes her success in obtaining funds as “you need to tell your story, identify the benefits, and stay with the process!” Follow Ms. Tan on Twitter 

Funding Sources Are Diverse

The number of sources our educators use use are diverse and include:

  • Perkins and other federal funding sources
  • Cyber.org hardware grants (come from Department of Homeland Security), planned through 2021
  • State Career Technology Education (CTE) funding buckets, which may be multi-year state initiatives or the result of ballot measures (like California’s Proposition 51)
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Fund, which includes specific provisions for technical workforce development
  • Locally-supported ballot measures by school districts for supplies
  • Placed-based learning connections that may be developed with local companies, benefactors or non-profit organizations where there are localized economic benefits. For example, underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) research is active on the California coast, private aerospace companies exist throughout our inland deserts, and drone-based agricultural research happens in our wine country
  • Student funds, which are most typically drawn upon for community college and university level courses

Identify the Benefit to Funders and Advocate for your Program

As an educator, you need to advocate for your program just like a business person. Identify the sources of the funding and prepare your case to meet the intent of the funding source! What’s the expected outcome that the funding source needs to read, rank or consider? The business case for each case will be different.

For example, CTE funding sources will have very specific criteria oriented around statewide workforce development goals. Are you creating skilled technicians for a local industry?

Local businesses or private donors may only appreciate recognition in social media or printed newspapers and have a hands-off approach about the use of the funds. The feedback loop varies, but in all cases you need to identify the ranking criteria or motivation of the source and speak clearly to it. 

Obtain Quotes from Parallax for Budget Planning

You’ll need to identify the amount and allocation of the funds you seek. Educators often contact us a year in advance to discuss their program, get enrolled in one of our workshops, and identify the best hardware for their class. 

With over 300 products on the Parallax website this can be daunting, but we will match you with the most suitable microcontroller, programming language and environment. 

We’ll combine this research and prepare a quote. A quote may be inserted into your grant request or restated as your own summary.

Contact us at education@parallax.com or call the Educator Hotline (916) 701-8625 to get started.

Identify the hardware you’ll purchase with the grant application. We can prepare a quote for budget planning and discuss the best fit for your class based on grade, description, experience, and sequencing with other classes in your program.

Application Needs for Grants

Application details and vary widely, but the process may work like this:  

  • Meet with administration – this may be with the principal, superintendent, or program director, and identify the funding source.
  • Know the limits – check to see if there is any size limit to the amount of grant you can apply for; in addition some districts have guidelines that the school board needs to be involved if the grant is larger than a certain dollar amount.
  • Pick the team – Identify who will be implementing the program once the grant is awarded. Who will do the training? Who will manage the budget?
  • Letter of inquiry – Some grantmakers request a letter of inquiry to determine if your purpose fits into their current priorities before you take the time to complete a full proposal. 
  • Cover Letter – Name of the program, purpose, strategic reason, amount requested, time period of program,name of contact person.
  • State the Intent – clarify the purpose of applying and the problem it solves, including need, program goals, program design, how it will be sustained after grant money is spent. 
  • Problem to address: citing research or books is appropriate
  • Evaluation plan – How will you measure the effectiveness of your program? Survey participants, families, parents? Questionnaire, interview, Observations Pre and post program evaluation or just post?
  • Additional attachments to consider:
    • Verification of 501(c)(3) status
    • Organizational structure
    • Report on school district
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