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Funding Paper

Kristyn Curran, Mary Kate Lavin, Holli Hill
Loyola University

Funding Paper
The use of technology has taken off in the past years in education. It has changed
from the basic uses of typing assignments to creating projects. There has been a major
shift to using screen readers instead of desktop computers or laptops. Children are very
familiar with using tablets in their everyday life. In order to keep up with this trend, our
school would greatly benefit from using tablets in our classrooms. We would also like to
use specific reading software with our struggling readers. At this time, our school has
three tablets that were given to the special education teachers, five e-readers to use in
Media class, and one e-reader per grade level. There are not enough devices to use for a
reading group. Kids often argue over who can use the tablet during reading class. There
is a need for more tablets available for grade level use. Tablets need to be easily
accessible for teachers to use. Since it will be in a central location in the third grade area
and there will be enough tablets for reading groups teachers will use them frequently and
incorporate them into daily lessons. Through our grants we are looking into purchasing
tablets, assistive technology software, and professional development on using tablets into
the classroom. Aside from the use of tablets, we are also interested in professional
development of Google Applications for Education (GAFE.) Many schools have
important information on the GAFE such as spreadsheets, schedules, and planning
materials however, many teachers do not know how to access it or use it to it’s full
advantage because of the poorly planned and executed roll out of the GAFE in schools.
Our goal is to meet the needs of our staff and students by applying for the grants
described below.
GAFE Professional Development Grant
Providing funds for teachers outside of the contractual day is a challenge that faces
many schools. With teaching, planning, duties and meetings, there is hardly any time for
educators to learn or tinker with new tools. Technologies are often introduced to teachers
then quickly abandoned because there simply, isn’t enough time in the day to learn the
technology and find ways to incorporate that technology into the classroom. Google
Applications for Education (GAFE) has been plagued with this issue since it’s
introduction at our school. This valuable teaching and learning tool is under utilized
specifically because teachers and support staff have not had the proper amount of
training. A way to increase the amount of training available for teachers would be to
apply for a grant. Grants would be used to provide funding to cover the additional time
teachers and support staff would spend in professional development to learn how to use
and implement the GAFE in their classrooms.
The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation offers grants to assist teacher
development. The foundation believes that continued professional training is vital to the
effectiveness of educators. According to the McCarthey Dressman Foundation website,
the Foundation’s goal is to promote best practices through cooperative and sustained
commitment to increased efficacy, improved teaching and active learning. The
Foundation also aims for their grants to boost student understanding and proficiency as
well as instilling a passion for lifelong learning. These goals would align with the
mission and vision of the Howard County Public School System because our vision
states, “Every student is inspired to learn and empowered to excess.” As a county our
mission is to “cultivate a vibrant learning community that prepares students to thrive in a
dynamic world” so the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation’s goals are aligned
with that of HCPSS.
The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation’s Teacher Development Grants
are available to support small teams of teachers in forming and implementing
groundbreaking K-12 instruction in the classroom. The grants provide chances for
teachers to incorporate new strategies that encourage critical inquiry among students.
Teachers are also required to reflect on the experience and share with a larger
community of educators. If awarded funding through the Teacher Development Grants,
individuals can receive up to $10,000.00 for a maximum of three years. The eligibility
conditions much continue to be met in order to receive the continued funding. The
application is available online through the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation
website (; a preview version
of the application is also available through their website to ensure that individuals are
able to acquire the required information (see attached).
This grant would be a fantastic opportunity to earn funds to support the technology
committee in their goal of learning how to access, use, and incorporate the GAFE into the
classroom. This grant would allow for members to be paid workshop wages to attend
training on the elements of the GAFE outside of the contractual day. The technology
plan would qualify for this grant because technology committee members would work
together to disperse GAFE information and train other teachers on the GAFE. According
to the technology plan, committee members would work together to find ways to use the
GAFE and provide examples in order for other staff members to incorporate the GAFE
into instruction and lessons with their students. This grant would benefit the school
because the administration would be able to provide staff members of the technology
committee an incentive/reward for taking on the additional responsibility of being trained
to use the GAFE and then sharing information with their teams, satisfying one of Ely’s
Eight Conditions. The school would also benefit from being part of this experience
because additional professional development would expand the use of the GAFE.
The McCarthey Dressman Education Grants does provide some unforeseen
challenges for our school. The grant is for licensed teachers employed in public or
private schools. This means that support staff, such as the alternative educator and para
educators would not qualify to be paid. These members were important to the original
technology plan because individuals in these positions frequently work with students but
are not provided laptop computers, however the plan would require modifications if it
were to be awarded to our school. Another challenge that might occur because of this
opportunity is that personnel changes within the school. The McCarthey Dressman
Education Grants ask for a one person to be the main contact between the Foundation and
the school. If the point person were to be relocated to a different school this might cause
confusion and complications between the school and the Foundation. Although this
opportunity does come with some potential challenges, the cons associated with the grant
are greatly outweighed by the potential for professional development funds up to
$10,000.00 for three years.
Assistive Technology Grants
Many students use tablets at home and therefore using tablets will be an easy
transition for students. Reading on screens is the way of the future. Most students are
highly motivated to read on a screen rather than on paper. Aside from motivation, tablets
would greatly benefit students with special needs and serves as an assistive technology
tool due the various features on a tablet. Many tablets can read the story to the reader.
This allows for greater independence because an adult does not have to stand next to the
student who may not be able to read the story independently. Students do not have to
wait for an adult to come over to them or go to a separate room to get the material read to
them. Many schools may not have the staff to be in every classroom that has students
with special needs who require verbatim reading of the entire text. Another feature of a
tablet is that students can look up words in the glossary or highlight words that they are
unfamiliar with. Students can learn to highlight important events in a story. Tablets can
create a positive more independent environment for students.
Tablets would be a great instructional tool to use with our students. Since we only
have a limited amount of tablets we would like to purchase tablets for a particular grade
level, that way a team will have enough for small groups to use. The grant we would like
to apply for is the ING Unsung Heroes grant. This grant is worth up to $2,000. We are
eligible to apply for this grant because we are public school teachers employed by an
accredited school system and are full time teachers with an innovative project to improve
student learning. A perfect way to do this would be to use tablets to motivate the students
and to complete projects and assignments on a tablet. The pro of this grant is that the
teachers can decide what they want to do with the money as long as it has something to
do with student innovation. The con of the grant is that only a select few get chosen for
this grant.
We would like to use the tablets in our classrooms throughout daily instruction
especially with students with special needs. The positive effects that tablets will have on
our special needs students outweigh the negative effects. One negative effect would be
technological issues. The tablets may not function properly on a daily basis. The
positive effects on using the grant money to purchase tablets would be to that staffing
issues are resolved, fostering student independence, and taking away the barriers of
“looking different.”
There is always staffing issues with students who require verbatim reading or a
scribe. Typically there is not enough adults to help all of the students who use this
accommodation. Many students who use these accommodations on a daily basis become
dependent on the adults in the room. They will wait for an adult to prompt them instead
of completing the work independently. Tablets would allow these students to complete
assignments independently because they have a tool at their disposal. The tablet will read
to them or they can dictate their responses into a tablet. Another positive in having
enough tablets for a reading group would be that the children who are really using them
for assistive technology purposes are not standing out. Everyone around them would
have a tablet and they would not feel different in using the device for special purposes.
This is a way to differentiate lessons because other children in the group may be using
the tablet differently than other students. The ING Unsung Heroes grant would be ideal
for us to purchase tablets for students in our grade level because we want to see our
students’ be successful in the classroom so that they will be successful in the future.
We applied for a grant to purchase tablets now we are looking for more specific
software licenses to upload on either a tablet or laptops. We would like to purchase
reading software such as Kurzweil. This software would be another way that special
education students can be successful in the reading classroom. Kurzweil allows teachers
to scan materials and textbooks into the computer. Once it is scanned in students can
access the document and have the program read it to them. The grant that we applied for
to purchase this software is through the NEA Student Achievement Grant. This grant is
either $2,000 or $5,000 we are asking for $5,000 to purchase the software. The deadline
to apply is June 1, 2014. We are eligible to participate in this grant because we are public
school teachers, we are not associated with the NEA Foundation and we are not using the
money for extracurricular purposes. The pro to this grant that it is open to educators who
would like to increase student achievement. We would be able to use the money on
anything that we believe would be beneficial for student achievement. One way to
increase students’ with special needs achievement is to engage the students in lessons so
that they will be more willing to learn new things and make a difference in the world.
Kurzweil would increase struggling readers’ motivation towards learning because they
will have a way to read. The students’ would not be caught up on decoding words or
worried about being slow readers. They will be able to participate with grade level peers
in ways that they may not have been able to before. This program will allow students to
independently read an assignment without an adult sitting next to them reading it to them
or prompting them. One negative aspect of using this software is that some students will
not use it because they will look different with a laptop or tablet. No one else in the class
is using these devices and they may feel different. Teachers need to be aware of this and
have lessons that explain that everyone learns differently and use different materials in
the classroom. The con to this grant is that there are only two monetary options, $2,000
or $5,000 there is no in between amount. This may not seem like a negative aspect but
we may need to look into purchasing something extra or a newer version of Kurzweil to
spend all of the money. The NEA Student Achievement grant would help tremendously
on the cost of this software. Students would increase their attitude towards reading as
well as become motivated to complete literacy activities. All of these things would
ultimately make these students successful for the future. It is the NEA’s mission to
increase student engagement in the classroom as well as Howard County’s mission for
students’ to be college and career ready. Purchasing tablets and reading software would
allow these students to be prepared for the future, become independent, and more
confident leaders.
In Howard County we have steadily begun to increase the amount of tablets
purchased and used for instruction countywide. Unfortunately, there is little to no
training on how to use this tool, let alone strategies and techniques for using it within
instruction. Now because of the workload placed on teachers and specialists, there has
been little time for learning the value and benefits to using this tool. Currently this
limited amount of tablets is only servicing a handful of students in the building.
However, it has opened educator’s eyes to the many ways a device such as an e-reader
can help service students with IEPs. The problem that we are having, is that these
teachers are not familiar with the devices, they do not know how to incorporate them into
instruction or they simply use the tablets as tools for modifying work and accommodating
students needs. They are being used as a reinforcer for “good behavior” and for working
on rote skills (such as basic math facts flash card apps). Some teachers do not even open
their device up because they do not know how to download applications and have trouble
managing the basic functions of a tablet.
We are in need of professional development funds for our teachers. They need
direct instruction on basic functions of these devices, ideas and strategies for using them
to supplement instruction and ways they can be used to modify work and accommodate
students with learning disabilities. In order to make this work, we need funds to pay the
teachers workshop wages for trainings after school. We also need to pay the instructor
for his/her time in preparing and presenting during the trainings. Additionally, teachers
will need money in order to pay for applications that support modifications and
accommodations for students. This may be in buying modified textbooks online or
purchasing applications that allow for ease of use for student learning. In order for our
school to begin the training and implementation of these devices this Fall (2014) we will
be applying for the Dollar General Youth Literacy Grant within the next month. Our
grant will need to be submitted by May 22
, 2014.
Dollar General provides funding of up to $4,000 for schools that are seeking to
improve literacy programs for struggling students. Special educators are working with
the resources available to meet the needs of struggling readers everyday. Our school
qualifies for this grant based on our location; you must be within 20 miles of a Dollar
General store, and the student population we will be servicing; students with
Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). The teachers applying for this grant must provide
direct service to struggling learners (i.e. students with IEPs). With these funds, teachers
will be able to purchase modified books on the e-readers, provide training and support for
teachers struggling to include the tablets within their instruction. They may even have
the funds to download applications that can be used to provide accommodations to
students. One example might be the use of the application, dragon dictation. Students
can speak into the device and it will type what they say. This will reduce the need for one
on one adult support in order to scribe for the student. It increases student independence
and flexibility for writing demands. In the end, our goal is to increase student
independence and confidence while reading and completing work in the general
education setting. These students should be able to experience learning, independently
with appropriate classroom modification and accommodations.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation wants to help struggling readers and
increase the graduation rates by providing models of success that can be replicated in
other classrooms in order to help students struggling with basic literacy and education.
This goal is very similar to that of our special educators. We want our students to be
fluent in their basic literacy skills and prepared for high school and graduation.
There are many advantages to using the funds for supporting these students.
However, one disadvantage to applying for this grant is our limited timeline. Our team
will need to meet and outline a plan of action before we are able to submit our application
by May 22
, 2014. Also, administrative fees and salaries are excluded from this grant.
We have an email in to this foundation to see if the funds can be used for professional
development for teachers. The substantial amount of money offered would meet our
school’s need for trainings as well as purchasing applications for specific student needs.
Recipients of this grant can use the funds for books, instructional materials, computers
and software. With this we are able to meet a good bit of our school’s needs.
Another grant that we will be seeking is National Education Association (NEA)
Foundation’s Leadership & Learning grant, which is different than the other NEA grant,
which was the Student Achievement Grant. We could receive between $2,000 and
$5,000 depending on how we choose to apply. In order to receive the $5,000 our school
would have to apply as a team instead of as an individual. While this may seem like the
best option, our school’s technology team is in the process of being formed. Applying
for the $5,000 grant may not be the best-case scenario for our school because we do not
want to hastily and with little thought, form a technology group, just to attain the funds.
However, we can still apply for the $2,000 grant and this would allow us funding for
professional development for the technology leader who will be leading the professional
development. The NEA Foundation is committed to supporting public school teachers
“in high-quality professional development experiences”. This grant is specific and
matches the needs for a leader in the field of technology. This will allow the lead
presenter/trainer to become an expert on the tablets that will be used next school year
within instruction. Often there is minimal training for staff because of funding needs for
teachers but also because there are few “experts” that know enough about a specific tool
that they are comfortable to lead their fellow co-workers in a training on strategies for
inclusion of the tool. NEA is looking for an individual that will support and lead their
colleagues in professional development.
As educators in a public school, we are able to apply (however administration
would not be eligible). Educators must be paid by a public school system and therefore
we are eligible to apply for this grant. The applications are accepted all year long and
recipients are chosen 3 times a year. It is important to plan ahead because this NEA grant
will not reimburse expenses. Another factor to consider when applying for this grant is
the action research involved. The individual applying would need to do action research
in order to increase the chances of being chosen to receive this grant. Action research
can take a lot of time to put together. We would need to determine if it would be worth
the time. In my opinion, I believe it would be beneficial. The data we gather/collect
from the action research could help us get funds for tablets for more than just the special
education students. The information might help persuade teachers and get teacher buy-in
to seeing the benefits in utilizing this technology.
The restrictions included in this grant limit us from increasing salaries or
administration fees. We have contacted them to find out if we would be able to use the
funds to pay teachers workshop wages for their time at trainings outside of teacher
contract hours or to pay the facilitator for their time researching, planning, and training.
This grant also discourages funds being spent on materials alone. They encourage
teachers to use only material that will address student’s critical thinking and problem
solving skills. Our school struggles to foster critical thinking skills for students with
educational disabilities. Our hope is that in providing the students with more
independence and access to the curriculum that we will better be able to foster those
critical thinking and problem solving skills. While there are no “deadlines” for applying
for this grant, we would need to apply almost immediately if we want to use the funds
this Fall 2014. It takes about 5 months to hear if your school was chosen as the recipient
of this grant. Overall, our school staff could greatly benefit from additional trainings.
While our county has purchased some of the devices already, we must invest in teacher
training in order for there to be success in the implementation of those tools within the
classroom for instructional purposes. In training teachers, they may become more
confident and likely to have success in using new technologies in the classroom. The end
goal is to increase independence and confidence among students. If including tablets can
make that happen, then we need to find the funds to make this goal possible.
All in all, these grants provide wonderful opportunities to provide additional
services and funding for the students and staff at our school. Each opportunity comes
with challenges and required careful planning to ensure the requirements are met and
upheld however, their ability to meet unsatisfied needs ultimately outweighs the
additional work and oversight.


Attempt to contact The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation:

NEA Foundation: Learning & Leadership

Dollar General Foundation→ Dollar General Youth Literacy Grants

NEA Student Achievement Grant Application:

ING Unsung Heroes Grant