Planning for the Upcoming Year in Education Funding
Planning for the Upcoming Year in Education Funding

By Liz Shay, Senior Grants Development Consultant,


Although the (as of the time of writing), it is still important to start preparing now for the upcoming year. Federal agencies have already submitted their proposed budgets to the relevant Congressional committees. In most years, we see relatively stable levels of discretionary funding in the final budget, with small increases to align with inflation. It is likely that we will see a similar approach this year for most or all of the agencies relevant to education funding.

Based on the proposed budgets, other funding legislation from the last few years, and long-term trends, there are several areas that we expect to see prioritized in the FY24 budget and eventual grant programs for education entities.


Overall Education Trends

There are a few funding trends that apply to all types and levels of education entities.

  1. Diverse Participants in Education: Funders focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in many grant programs, either explicitly or through competitive preference priority points. Sometimes this goal is focused on involving a more diverse group of students in educational practice. Other times there is more of a focus on equitable design of systems and curriculum to better meet the needs of students. As part of these goals, funders often encourage approaches that include social-emotional learning and other 21st Century skills development or wrap-around services to address the broader needs of students.
  2. Career and Technical Education (CTE): Grantmakers are putting significant funding towards CTE for students of all ages. Funding has increased over the last few years for career-connected middle schools and high schools. We are also seeing more funding for CTE programming for college students and adults, including opportunities for working adults to upskill or reskill to enter high-wage careers. Many of these grant programs are focused on ways to provide students with short-term credentialing so that they can enter the workforce quickly. Collaboration between K-12 and higher education entities (particularly community and technical colleges) is critical for these types of projects to build clear pathways for students to get the training they want and need.
  3. Varied Group of Grant Seekers and Recipients: In the past, the majority of grant funding has gone to only a relatively small group of eligible recipients. Funders want to see more schools and other education and training providers participating in grant-seeking and receiving awards to implement projects. Part of this shift has included more racially diverse organizations, such as more funding going to Minority-Serving Institutions. However, other funding has also gone to include more rural school districts and colleges, as well as more K-12 entities in National Science Foundation and Department of Defense efforts.

K-12 Education Trends

In addition to the overall trends in education funding, there are also some priorities that are specific to K-12 schools.

  1. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, also know as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) included unprecedented levels of funding to support improvements to schools to make them more eco-friendly. This funding includes options for schools to update infrastructure like heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and lighting, as well as funding for clean energy buses. Other funders have also started to follow suit and provide more support for these types of projects.
  2. Addressing Achievement Gaps: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many challenges students face with learning the knowledge and skills they need when they graduate high school. Federal agencies, especially the Department of Education (USED), are being allocated more funding for programs that will address learning loss and other opportunity and achievement gaps. Some of this funding will go towards efforts to be more equitable and responsive to student needs, including English language acquisition. Other funding will go towards extending learning opportunities into the evenings and during summers to provide additional curriculum support and mitigate summertime learning loss.
  3. Game-Based Learning (GBL): Grantmakers understand that student engagement is one of the most key factors for determining their ability to successfully learn complex materials. GBL utilizes video games, including augmented or virtual reality set ups and more traditional options on computers or tablets, to teach concepts to students. The FY23 budget explanatory statement for USED explicitly notes GBL as a way to motivate students to problem solve and encourages the Department to include evidenced-based GBL as a priority in their funding. That has been implemented over the last year, and we expect this trend to continue in USED grant programs and education-related grant funding from other agencies.

Higher Education Trends

Beyond the overall trends in education funding, there are also some other priorities that are more specific to institutes of higher education.

  1. Public-Private Partnerships: Partnerships allow organizations with diverse skills and knowledge to work together towards a common goal. These projects often allow for larger impacts for the same amount of funding. Grantmakers are increasingly encouraging public-private partnerships, or even making them mandatory. Some of these programs are interested in translating academic research findings into products and services in the commercial market. Other support focuses on employers sharing their skill needs to help with appropriately aligned curriculum development.
  2. Increased Research Capacity: Grantmakers who support academic research want to be able to ensure that there is appropriate infrastructure and skills for these types of projects to be implemented. Several federal funders have designed programs that support research infrastructure or instrumentation at institutes of higher education. Other funding programs have also been released to increase the amount of research-related education available at institutions to train the next generation of academic researchers. The amount of funding going to these types of programs has been increasing over the last few years, and we expect to see that trend continue. More federal agencies have created these types of programs (including USED) and funders are expanding the scope of institutions they would like to see participating in these funding opportunities.
  3. Hands-On Learning: Funders are increasingly supporting curriculum design and innovation that includes hands-on learning opportunities. Most grantmakers want to see projects that will engage students, and hands-on learning is an effective way to ensure that students are focused and involved in their learning experiences. Programs are designed to support everything from makerspaces or other classroom tools to apprenticeships. Some programs will even support augmented or virtual reality versions for topics that do not allow for sufficient real experience (such as medical education or law enforcement training).

Now is the time of year for education entities to evaluate their goals and plans for the upcoming year. Think about your plans to support your students, researchers, and the broader community, and look for alignment with any of the priorities described above. Although this is by no means an exhaustive list of the kinds of grant funding that will be available in the coming months, these trends will give you a sense of the types of programs that are likely to be most popular and where you may see absolute or competitive preference priorities for existing annual programs. Start to strategize for where you would like to focus your efforts in 2024 and get started!


Image and Caption: (not picky about the image, as long as it is education-related)

Caption: Education entities have many opportunities in 2024 to apply for grant funding to support their initiatives. Think about your current needs and review possible alignment with priorities/trends we have identified in the education grant funding landscape.