In today’s world, schools and teachers are expected to provide more services and opportunities to their students than ever before. In addition to a top-notch education, U.S. public schools are mandated to provide healthy meals, exercise opportunities, financial literacy, productive and after-school programs and amiable social settings for the thousands of children matriculating through the system each year. To meet these needs, many teachers are often asked to reach into their own pockets. According to the Los Angeles Times, a new initiative announced on Monday seeks to reduce the financial burden teachers regularly face. The initiative also has the potential to change the morale of teachers within the city.
The initiative, called Grants HQ, seeks to educate teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District on how to write grants in order to request and subsequently receive funding for school programs and projects they are involved in. The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, which was founded in 2011 as a way to create unconventional partnerships in order to improve students’ education, is sponsoring the initiative.
Through the initiative, teachers will be able to use a website with a searchable database to find grants that apply to the projects and programs they are focusing on in the classroom, according to the L.A. Fund website. The database will ideally help connect the LAUSD teachers to philanthropic organizations that could provide them with money for funding, according to the L.A. Times. For example, if a teacher is in charge of the robotics club, he or she can apply for a grant that financially supports the materials needed for building robots.
In addition, the initiative will offer workshops to teach grant writing, review all proposals and write letters of endorsement for selected ones, according to the L.A. Fund website. This type of assistance for teachers is critical. The other tasks that they are paid to focus on should not be overshadowed by the growing importance of attempting to find funding for activities.
Furthermore, the initiative comes at a time when LAUSD is facing the possibility of losing $200 million in funding in the coming years, according to the Huffington Post. Nationally, teachers are experiencing the same cash-strapped scenarios.
According to a recent study by insurance firm Horace Mann, teachers are spending more of their personal funds for classroom supplies than in previous years because of school budgets across the country being slashed. The study showed that each year, 30 percent of teachers spend between $200-$400 of their own money on supplies, which has a larger impact considering teachers receive some of the lowest salaries in the country.
Though the initiative provides another outlet for teachers to alleviate their additional burdens, it should not turn the conversation away from the importance of pouring more directed money into a school system. Without that conversation taking place, the perennial problem of teachers having to find alternative routes of funding educational programs will not be addressed.
Overall, the initiative proves that teachers still have something to learn. Though teachers — for the most part — seamlessly impart knowledge to students in the classroom every day, an understanding of the process of receiving grants and funding to continue critical school programs is still lacking.
Grants HQ is a necessary first step in helping teachers provide a quality and holistic education to students. If successfully implemented, this pilot program could change the amount of avenues teachers have to fund activities in the classroom. It will also show the school system as a whole that there are other ways of contributing to children’s educations.
Despite its benefits, it should not replace the need to reevaluate the amount of funding school systems are receiving. But in the meantime, teaching teachers one more lesson can go a long way in contributing to students receiving the best education possible.
Jordyn Holman is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. Her column, “Making the Grade,” runs Wednesdays.