Saturday, September 1

The Money Mom: School need money? Ask local electeds

I was recently elected to my local Community Education Council, but before that my usual role in my kid's schools for the past seven years has been grant writing. Insideschools thought that both grant writing and Community Education Councils would interest parents, so I will contribute entries on both subjects to this blog.

Some time over the summer, the New York State Department of Education sends out letters announcing special legislative grants. These grants are the means--usually a few thousand dollars or more--with which our state assembly members help schools to buy goods and services that are never easy to afford in a school budget of any size--science kits and field trips, extra music and art programs, murals, nonfiction books for classroom libraries.

City Council members and borough presidents sometimes have even bigger pieces of money to share, such as tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade your classroom’s computer system.

What does it take to get funds for your school from local electeds? Make a list of concrete things you could buy that would directly benefit a large number of children at your school. Your school principal should know about and support your request. Send a simple letter describing how you would spend the money you seek, and who it would benefit. The process may take a while: letters sent to state assembly members in January are funded with the state budget in the summer.

You’re even more likely to get your request funded if you get to know your elected officials personally. Invite them to speak at a PTA meeting or to attend school events such as pot luck dinners or fall fairs. Talk to them about issues that concern you and your school. Don’t be afraid: most local electeds are friendly people who enjoy getting to know their constituents, and public school parents are a good group to know.

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