With limited funding available to schools, teachers struggle to give students access to the latest STEM gadgets or even a basic tablet. But with dreams of their students programming robots and printing 3D objects, determined teachers are seeking out their own funding from grants, corporations, and the local community. How can you make your STEM dreams a reality? What are the best STEM grants? Read on for resources, grant writing tips, and funding opportunities to get your hands on money for your classroom or program!
1: Ask Your District
Ok this is probably obvious, but sometimes teachers don’t even ask! Your district may have STEM funds available for special projects or after school clubs. Seek out your district’s STEM Coordinator or Curriculum Director to find support or ask your principal.
2: Ask STEM Companies
STEM companies often take a community-based approached to STEM giving. Search for local, state-wide, and national companies that have a workforce in your area. Many city websites have a listing of major industries and companies in the area such as this one for the City of San Antonio. Look out for companies in the areas of engineering, science, healthcare, manufacturing, and related fields.
Once you find a company, search for any open grant opportunities. For example, I found Toyota grants by Googling “Toyota grants for education”. Other examples are Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Shell, Honda, and Ecana. Some companies may also have employee giving funds such as at ETS where employees donate some income to certain causes.
Outside of submitting grants online, you can reach out to local branches. One great way to connect is by inviting STEM professionals to a STEM Family Night or career day as an initial introduction to your school before asking for money. Companies are more likely to respond if their employees are invested.
3. Focus on Underrepresented Groups
STEM companies are actively trying to diversify their workforce by attracting more women and minorities. Many students determine their career pathways as early as middle school, and companies understand that reaching students early is important to prepare them for demanding STEM careers. Because of this, proposals that showcase minorities, girls, and students from Title 1 schools will have a better chance for funding. Furthermore, companies want to make a big impact so a school with little or no STEM programming will be attractive.
4. Partner with Other Agencies
Many organizations are looking to offer STEM programming, and they may be interested to partner with you to offer programming at your school. Some national organizations to consider are Girls Inc, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and the place I (Natasha) work, Communities In Schools. These organizations often run after school programming through 21st Century Learning Grants and may have opportunities to add STEM activities.
5. Focus on Outcomes
Funders are all about numbers and outcomes. Be prepared to show how your STEM program or STEM classroom projects will translate to better performance in academics and persistence in STEM pathways. In addition to being aligned to standards, you can also discuss how a project-based STEM activity that connects to real-world applications will make students excited about STEM subjects as well as build their confidence in academics. This will translate to more interest in school subjects, higher attendance in school, and an overall more positive attitude. Who doesn’t want that?
Your STEM club or classroom project can bring the following components:
Project-based and student-driven learning
21st century skills
Real-world engineering, science, and math connections
Connection to local STEM professionals
Possible STEM Outcomes
Increased enthusiasm and confidence for math and science subjects
Increased grades and test scores in math and science
Increased awareness and interest in STEM career pathways (industry wants this!)
Increased persistence in STEM pathways: taking engineering electives, joining STEM competitions, or applying for a STEM High School
Of course with these outcomes, you need to be able to collect the data! Make sure your district is able to provide grades, academics, or other outcomes to report to funders. For more on STEM outcomes, you can check out our STEM Resource Guide.
Ready to Apply?
Best of luck! There is a lot of money out there for STEM education so don’t give up!