Reading is a fundamental skill. All educators know that. Thats why billions and billions of dollars are spent on reading instruction every year in American schools. Unfortunately, even with a fortune being spent on reading instruction, our students are not reading better. Thats the bad news.
[content block] The good news is that most granting entities also understand that reading is fundamental. They also understand that most schools in this country are having problems teaching reading skills to at least some of their students. Thats why more grants are offered to educators for reading solutions than any other category.
Just how many reading grants are available? I recently used The School Funding Center Grant Database to perform a search, and I found that 623 grants are available to New York public schools in the category of reading. In Kansas, 304 reading grants are listed for private schools. In Oregon, 345 reading grants are offered to public schools, 308 are offered to private schools. The results are the same in state after state -- hundreds of grants are available to help fix reading problems. While not all those grants are specifically for reading, they do all include reading as one of their subject categories.
Would your school be eligible for all of those grants? Absolutely not. You probably wouldnt qualify for even 25 percent of them. But if you only qualified for 10 percent of those grants, that means you could apply for 10, 20, maybe even 30 different reading grants. Most likely, some good research would help you narrow that list to four or five grants that match up very well with the needs of your school. Those are the ones you would aggressively go after with quality applications.
Students who get a poor start in reading generally have a tough time in school. Trying to read textbooks written a grade level or two above their reading level is discouraging, if not impossible. Educators understand the problem but have had a horrible time making headway when it comes to fixing it. Thats why the federal government gives billions of dollars in Title I grants each year to help schools improve reading instruction. But most of those dollars are formula funds given based on the number of low socio-economic students in schools. Schools that do not qualify for Title I money or need more grant money to address reading concerns should focus on the billions of dollars of competitive money given by the federal government, state governments, and numerous foundations and businesses.
Reading is the number one skill taught in our schools. It is also the number one problem. Fortunately, reading is also the number one category for grants available to schools. Be sure to go after your share of that grant money and correct the reading problems you have in your school. It is worth the time. Its worth the effort. And the grant money is out there.
Don Peek is former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. Learn more about The School Funding Center at the bottom of this newsletter.
Article by Don Peek
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