As an educator it’s exciting when you discover engaging, quality products and resources like those offered with Merge EDU!
Yet, you may pause and wonder where you will find funds to purchase these tools that students in your classroom or school would love working with and learning from—just as you would love having these resources to help you connect with students in a variety of ways.
It’s important to know there are many options for consideration, and we can help get you started in the right direction. With a little bit of research beginning with the information we provide below, some time spent in evaluation and preparation, a strong sense of tenacity and a sprinkling of luck—you will soon have answers for all your Merge EDU funding questions.
Read each of the sections below to get started on your Merge EDU funding journey:
- Ask Yourself for Clarity Before You Ask Others for Funding: Questions and Answers
- Funding 101: Options for Consideration
- Finding the Grant: Local, State, Federal and Foundation Funding
- Grant Development: Process, Planning & Execution
Ask Yourself for Clarity Before You Ask Others for Funding: Question & Answer
If you are a teacher reading this article, that means you’re ready to get funding for Merge EDU. That’s so exciting for you and us! This section will help you think about questions related to: your why, the need, your plan, your budget, and your goals and evaluation.
The first thing you’ll want to do is know your WHY and share it with others. Begin this process of seeking external funding by preparing yourself to fully answer some key questions.
Ask yourself questions that potential funders would ask you—WHY do you want and need this funding? Write your responses, and fine tune the answers so you may succinctly write about or discuss it with others.
Both your written and oral communication focused on incorporating Merge EDU products and resources in your education space need to emphasize your passion for improving student learning through innovative and engaging practices.
The dollars invested in this curriculum upgrade are a worthwhile investment, and will provide a high-quality return in the successes of your students. Potential funders need to see and hear the proceeding statement fully-vetted in your voice.
Determine your/your students’/schools’ NEED for the products and resources Merge EDU offers. A key point to understand is that the Need is Not the lack of funds to purchase products or implement the desired project; the need is the issue or deficiency that one is trying to improve.
The lack of funding is merely a barrier to implementing a strategy that is believed will appropriately minimize/eradicate the need. This barrier can be removed and the strategies then may be initiated to overcome the identified need.
Questions you may ask to determine need could include:
- Do district, state and other test scores indicate a GAP in skills that are addressed with Merge EDU products? If so, what are some of those gaps and how does Merge EDU address them? Be able to quote statistics and define in realistic examples that these students (aggregate) are in your classroom, and you want to help them.
- Do some of your students with special circumstances (students from lower socio-economic households, students from single-parent households, foster or homeless students, students from minority races, English learners, etc.) lack access to cultural experiences, STEM foundations, travel experiences, etc. that Merge EDU products bring to the classroom? If so, what percentage of these students are enrolled in your class or school? How does this compare in your district, state, nation?
- What are some of the local, state or national trend successes/deficiencies identified with technology-aided learning, tactile learning in combination with video learning, increasing critical thinking applications, diversity in learning styles, etc.? Simply do a Google search on some of these key points and read a few articles. Capture key points that resonate with you and apply to your students. Discuss this with your Merge EDU representative for some ideas.
- What types of benefits do you as a teacher gain by incorporating Merge EDU in your classroom curriculum? Articulate some of these benefits in terms of time-saved on developing lesson plans and activity guides, gaining expertise from educators from all over the world who created, tested and refined the STEM projects, and access to the community of learners’ resources for Merge EDU.
Determine your PLAN for incorporating Merge EDU products and software. Questions you may need to ask to determine your plan could include:
- When do I want to begin implementing, and when do I plan to have the Merge EDU curriculum fully incorporated into my curriculum? What is the alternative implementation plan if only partial funding can be accessed during the next 90 days? How will I modify my scale up or scale down implementation plan based on available funding or delays in implementation due to other factors?
- Do I know how to thoroughly work with the Merge Cube to demonstrate its attributes to potential funders? Purchase a Merge Cube, sign up for the Free Trial, and practice usage of the Merge Cube and Merge EDU Apps so you can easily answer questions that may be asked during a demonstration. Work with a student to teach them how to use the Merge Cube and Merge EDU, as it may be helpful to have a student involved in a demonstration. Consider creating a short and simple video of a student and yourself demonstrating the use of Merge EDU products, or incorporating a Merge EDU demo video.
Determine your BUDGET for acquiring and implementing Merge EDU products and software. Questions you may need to ask to determine the BUDGET for before requesting funding may include:
- What are the itemized and fully-detailed costs associated with purchasing the desired products and services from Merge EDU? What are the costs per student that will access the Merge EDU products? Do you have a quote from Merge EDU? How long is the quote good for? What are the terms of payment? What is the form of payment (check with PO#, credit card, etc.)?
- How will these products be securely stored? Who will have access to them? Will you keep an inventory log and have a check out system? Do you need to purchase security storage cases? What are the estimated costs?
- What other materials/supplies/resources will be needed to gain the most effective use of the Merge EDU products and software? What are the costs associated with these additional supplies? What are the replacement costs for Merge Cubes and/or Headsets, and what frequency should I estimate for replacements? Will you give each child a Merge Cube/Headset, or will you keep them stored at the school? How will these additional costs be funded? How will this project be sustained beyond the initial funding time?
Your Goals and Evaluation
Determine your GOALS & EVALUATION for this project. Questions you may need to ask to determine the goals & evaluation may include:
- What are the goals and outcomes you hope to achieve from implementing the Merge EDU? What are the quantitative (primarily numerical) goals you will measure specifically for your student improvements (tie directly to the NEEDS identified)? Will you measure qualitative outcomes, such as student engagement factors, demonstrated student excitement/comments, student eagerness to participate in learning more concepts with the Merge Cube, etc.?
- How will short-term milestones be measured? How will summative goals be measured? How frequently will you measure the progress students are making? How will you share the goal and outcomes? With whom will you share this information?
Funding 101: Options for Consideration
There are many funding sources that can be considered for assistance in purchasing Merge EDU products and resources. There are several factors that should be considered to help determine which funding sources are the best places to start. Consider the following information to be general guidelines for your pursuit in securing funding. Also recognize it is common to leverage funding from multiple sources for one project.
- Option 1 - your local school or district budget: If you are a teacher seeking funding for a classroom or a campus set of Merge EDU products and software, begin by determining if there are readily available funds in your local school or district budget.
Some of the best contacts to determine existing available funds at the local level may include your principal, Curriculum Director, STEM Director, Technology Coordinator, Librarian, or Media Specialist. Initial discussions may be in person, but continue the process with a follow-up email that includes a summary of your “Ask”. Here’s a template you can use to start. This short one page or 2-3 short paragraph email is derived from the questions and answers developed above. This email serves an overview of what you’re needing and a request for a follow-up discussion and presentation if funds are available for use from a local school budget. This funding option is often the quickest and easiest method for acquiring funds to purchase the Merge EDU project you desire to incorporate.
If you find that there is no room left in the school budget, thank this group for their consideration and ask if they could connect you with other potential sources.
- Option 2 - community resources: As a teacher seeking funding, consider asking your local PTA, school district foundation, campus partners, and community civic and social groups for project sponsorship funding. Additionally, some private companies (including Walmart Community Grants, Target Foundation Grants, Toyota Foundation, Lockheed Martin STEM and others) and school district foundations seek smaller grant award applications that would align with this funding option.
Remember anytime you can schedule a presentation in addition to providing a written proposal, your odds for funding increase—and including students in a demonstration allows your potential funders to see the “Ask” come to life. An inquiry phone call, short meeting and follow-up email with a summary of the project is a starting point, with hopes of being invited to submit a full proposal and hopefully scheduling a presentation so the funders can consider the quality of your project for funding. This group of potential funders usually has a good success rate and timely responses to funding requests.
If you learn that the groups above cannot honor your request for funding at this time, consider one or more fundraising events to collect the money needed to purchase Merge EDU.
- Option 3 - Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a popular tool currently used by many educators to fund new projects that will benefit their students. Some common crowdfunding sources include:
- Adopt A Classroom
- Go Fund Me
Finding the Grant: Local, State, Federal and Foundation Grants
If the three options above do not produce the results you need, consider a more formal search for grant funding. Recognize there are a multitude of various requirements, timelines of offerings, and strategies associated with local, state, federally-funded, and foundation grants.
Often these funding sources are for larger amounts ($25,000-$2 million+), contracted for longer terms (12 months-5 years), require more structured proposals (10-45 pages plus attachments) and targeted outcome projections (multiple SMART goals with milestone targets). This option would most likely include a development team from the school or school district to help advance the project and write the proposal, or complete the application. Administration involvement is highly recommended for initial approval to pursue the funding, to gather and analyze the data to define the need, to prepare the budget, and lend expertise to fully vet and submit the application for funding.
You can get started searching for grants in multiple places, and we recommend you and the assembled development team get started by using the funding page on our website.
Funding Page on the Merge EDU Website - We have curated an extensive collection of links on our website to grant search tools and funding sources to help you expand your budget for Merge EDU.
Department of Education office of Educational Technology - Because it’s more important than ever to incorporate technology into the classroom, the US Department of Education has compiled several types of funding streams for EdTech-specific resources.
Grants.gov - There are many PK-12 educational grants on grants.gov, and this is a free resource that can be used by anyone.
Grant Development: Process, Planning & Execution
Once it is determined that your project will most likely be funded by seeking and securing grant funds, it's time to take a deep dive into better understanding the grant development process, plan and execution. You do not have to be a professional grant writer to take on this endeavor, but dedicated time to learning and committed energy is required to produce a quality grant application that well-represents your project and your school.
- The grant development process for state, federal and many private foundation grants is hard work, is not a guaranteed win, and is a lengthy process often including 4+ weeks of development before the application is submitted and 3+ months of waiting before the awards are announced.
- The development team will research grant opportunities to determine which grants that are currently released and accept applications your school and project would be eligible to apply for.
- Upon grant selection, thoroughly read, review and dissect the details of the grant requirements, timelines and required documents. Almost all grant applications have a detailed outline of elements for inclusion, guideline of questions that need to be addressed, roadmap for grant proposal design, and perhaps a fillable template that the development team will work to complete.
- Early in the grant development progression, determine the application submission process and ensure you have this step promptly completed if it requires establishing an account for electronic submission.
The grant development planning often includes a projected timeline and task assignment spreadsheet for creating each of the elements/sections of the grant proposal. Often development teams meet a couple of times a week as a group to discuss big picture ideas and address detailed questions, and then work independently in between days to make progress on creating the grant application sections.
- Begin with the Need-Plan-Budget-Goals & Evaluation document that was previously described earlier. This information will be an excellent foundational starting point in completing the required and desired elements for each section.
- Be fully dedicated to meeting the projected timelines for individual section completion, and build in a few extra days for final edits and to address any missed/incomplete items required for the grant.
- Secure a small review and edit team that is separate from the development team to ensure the application addresses in a clear and concise way the intent of the project and key points application reviewers will be looking to see are included.
The grant development execution includes the details that are needed in the application to fully bring to life the vision of the project.
- Begin with detailing the goals and outcomes that will be achieved that address the need for the project. If possible align your project goals and outcomes with existing goals established in the school or district improvement plans, technology plans, etc.
- Next identify strategies and actions that will be implemented to help reach the goals and outcomes identified. Inclusion of new Merge EDU curriculum and products, professional development, supplemental tutoring strategies, and many more ideas could be considered. This is a chance to be creative, innovative and solution driven specifically for your school’s project.
- Include data, research and best practices to support the intended strategies and actions that will be included in your project. Your Library support team may be able to assist with gathering this information, as well as the school’s data coordinator. Public demographic information for your area is also available and should be considered for inclusion as supportive information to build the foundation for the needs and processes for improvement.
- Fully develop a detailed Budget. The items in your budget will be addressed for value in your narrative. Each item in the budget must be needed and reasonable to further the ability to meet the grant goals. Do not exceed the recommended or absolute maximum of available funding that is often determined by the funding agency.
- Plan to submit the grant application at least 1-2 days prior to the deadline for electronic application submission. For paper mail application submission, review printing and mail timelines and plan accordingly.
- Mark your calendar for projected award notification dates, and patiently wait for a response; however, this time may also be used to further search for alternative funding for your school’s project.
We’re so excited that you would like to find funding to provide your students with Merge EDU! If there's anything we can do to come alongside you in the process, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can help!
For additional Merge EDU funding resources, be sure to take a look at these other help articles: