Is Your Program Taking Advantage of Federal Stimulus Funds?

Did you know that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or federal stimulus package, includes a decent amount of funding for improving early childhood education? And if our legislators have done any reading on current economic research, they will realize that funding early childhood programs is a great use of federal money.

The return on investment is unheard of in financial circles (close to 16%). Studies show that when states help all children go to preschool, they spend less on costly special education services as children enter elementary school, families have more disposable income which they spend in the economy, crime rates go down as these children get older, states spend less on expensive social support services… the list of positive, money-saving and economy-boosting impacts goes on and on!

PreKnow.org has devoted a page on their website to helping early childhood programs learn about state programs and initiatives that are backed by ARRA money. Take a look at what your state is doing and check out the other resources PreK Now has available to help you navigate the funding possibilities available to you as a result of this stimulus package. You could find funds for everything from teacher training to curriculum materials. It’s worth a look!

Find the Money: Tips for Getting School Grants

It’s no secret that many early learning programs are barely getting by in this tough economy. Enrollment is down and it’s a struggle to pay the bills and keep staff. Updating your indoor  or outdoor space, purchasing new curriculum and even restocking the supply closet seem like impossible dreams. But those dreams can come true! It’s just a matter of finding the right funding source and putting together a compelling proposal that will bring those funds to your door.

The School Funding Center has a great blog that is full of grant writing tips and a link to an early childhood grant source database.

Some tips include:

  • Find grant sources whose giving purpose closely match your funding needs. Most foundations have a stated goal or reason for being. In addition, many list the types of projects they like to fund. Do your homework and be sure that you are applying to a source who is interested in funding a project like yours.
  • Apply to as many of those matching grant sources as possible. The more you apply to, the more likely you are to receive a positive response.
  • Whenever possible find facts and figures to backing up the importance of your need. Funding sources like statistics. It gives the impression that you know your stuff.
  • Include a detailed budget in your grant application to show grantors that you know the problem you are facing and what it will cost to fix it. Include information about cost of materials and personnel.

In my experience, including a compelling story is also helpful to capture the heartstrings of the people reading your application. So give grant writing a try. A little effort can bring in the dollars you need to help your program thrive.