By Elizabeth Evans
In our work as grant consultants, we encounter schools and districts from across the country. Outside of the US Department of Education or other federal agencies, the next largest provider of competitive grant funding opportunities for Local Education Agencies (LEA) is likely to be their State Education Agency (SEA). Unfortunately, not all states were created equal when it comes to grant funding. Depending on where you call home, the availability of grants for K-12 – let alone finding information about these opportunities – can vary!
Curious to know how “grant-seeker friendly” your state is and how your SEA stacks up compared to others? We’ve grouped each of the 50 SEAs into one of four categories based on the characteristics find most helpful when setting out to uncover grant funding opportunities. Most important is whether the SEA offers competitive grant opportunities in the first place. While each of the 50 SEAs is technically host to at least one competitive grant opportunity (thank you 21st Century Community Learning Centers pass-through grants from the federal government!), the criterion by which we chose to evaluate SEAs was whether or not they offered their own state-funded grant opportunities (i.e. grants unique to your state).Therefore, those SEAs who are not host to any additional competitive grant programs beyond federal pass-throughs were ranked the lowest for grant seeker friendliness. Afterall, how can you be grant seeker friendly if you don’t offer grant opportunities?
Beyond this initial measure, we explored at three additional criteria all related to the SEA’s website. First was convenience. Are grant opportunities shown in one clearinghouse location or across multiple, individual program-specific webpages? It’s much easier (and certainly faster) to check for grant funding opportunity updates if you only need to go to one page you already have bookmarked within your browser, rather than navigating among multiple pages. The second factor we considered relates to the accessibility of grants information for proposal development. Do you need an SEA-sanctioned log-in to see the grant summary, deadline, and other application instructions or is this data publicly available? Finally, we examined the accuracy of information that is publicly available for grant seekers. Meaning, those SEA websites who haven’t updated information since the transition from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds Act (in 2016-17) are not as helpful to grant seekers as those that are updated every few months. Yes, believe it or not there are still SEA websites who prominently feature outdated education legislation.
Read on to see where your state ranks!
These SEAs maintain an up-to-date central repository for all upcoming and current state-funded grant opportunities. This information is also readily accessible to the public. Moreover, you can count on these SEAs to host multiple non-federally sourced competitive grant opportunities each school year! Actual submission of grant applications may still require a log-in credential, but everything you need for planning – including the current or previous competition’s application instructions – can be easily accessed through links or downloads off of a central grant opportunity landing page!
· Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (Grants Team landing page that further links to grant opportunity announcements https://education.alaska.gov/grants)
· California Department of Education (Funding website linking previous, current, and projected opportunities https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fo/)
· Colorado Department of Education (Competitive Grants website linking to previous and current opportunities https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeawards/grants)
· Connecticut State Department of Education (Request for Proposals website linking to previous and current fiscal year opportunities https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/RFP/Request-for-Proposals)
· Idaho State Department of Education (Grant Opportunities website linking to previous and current opportunities http://www.sde.idaho.gov/events/grant-opportunities/index.html)
· Illinois State Board of Education (Funding Opportunities landing page that further links to grant opportunity announcements https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Funding-Opportunities.aspx)
· Iowa Department of Education (IowaGrants website liking opportunities from all state agencies, not just education https://www.iowagrants.gov/outsideStorefrontList.jsp?type=Grant)
· Kentucky Department of Education (Competitive Grants website linking to current opportunities https://education.ky.gov/districts/business/Pages/Competitive%20Grants%20from%20KDE.aspx)
· Maryland State Department of Education (Grants Administration and Resource Development landing page that further links to grant opportunity announcements http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/about/Pages/Grants/index.aspx)
· Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Grants Notifications and Alerts landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities http://www.doe.mass.edu/grants/)
· Michigan Department of Education (Grants landing page that further links to grant opportunity announcements https://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-5236---,00.html)
· Minnesota Department of Education (Grants Management Directory that further links to previous and current opportunities https://w1.education.state.mn.us/EGMS/)
· Mississippi Department of Education (Requests for, Bids Proposals, Applications, Qualifications for Contracts and Grants website linking to current grant opportunities http://www.mdek12.org/PN/RFP)
· Nevada Department of Education (Grant landing page that further links to current opportunities http://www.doe.nv.gov/Grants/Home/)
· New Hampshire Department of Education (Request for Proposals website linking to current opportunities https://www.education.nh.gov/rfp/index.htm)
· New Jersey Department of Education (Grant Opportunities landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities https://www.state.nj.us/education/grants/gropps.shtml)
· New Mexico Department of Education (Request for Proposal, Information, Application website linking to current opportunities https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/information/rfps-rfis-rfas/)
· New York State Department of Education (Funding Opportunities landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities http://www.p12.nysed.gov/funding/home.html)
· Pennsylvania Department of Education (School Grants landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities https://www.education.pa.gov/Policy-Funding/SchoolGrants/Pages/default.aspx)
· Rhode Island Department of Education (Funding Sources landing page which further links to information on federal grants, state aid, and other ad hoc opportunities http://www.ride.ri.gov/FundingFinance/FundingSources.aspx)
· South Carolina Department of Education (Grants landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities https://ed.sc.gov/finance/grants/grant-programs-administered-by-scde/ as well as a current opportunities announcement page https://ed.sc.gov/finance/grants/scde-grant-opportunities/)
· Texas Education Agency (Grant Opportunities Directory that further links to previous and current opportunities http://tea4avoswald.tea.state.tx.us/GrantOpportunities/forms/GrantProgramSearch.aspx)
· Utah State Board of Education (Utah Grants portal log-in https://www.schools.utah.gov/financialoperations/utahgrants)
· Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Competitive Grant Inventory forecast, although applicants will be further direct to the WISEgrants portal to apply https://dpi.wi.gov/sms/competitive-grant-inventory)
· Wyoming Department of Education (Grant Programs landing page that further links to previous and current opportunities https://edu.wyoming.gov/beyond-the-classroom/grants/)
These SEAs offer their own grant programs with moderate frequency, but they’re not doing everything they could to make information easily accessible. For one thing, even though the SEA has a central grants information repository site, some of the relevant proposal development information may be hidden behind a log-in wall. If you’re fortunate enough to be one of the folks at your LEA with the password, that’s great! For those who don’t have log-in information though, this creates an immediate barrier and can discourage grant-seeking efforts (or at the very least, slow momentum). Don’t have access to the portal? Ask your colleagues to see who already has the required credentials, and/or contact your SEA about getting an account set up. While you work on getting access to the information behind the log-in wall, try searching the SEA website for your grant program’s name. Most SEAs will have individual corresponding program pages or press releases with high-level summary information that you can use for planning purposes in the meantime. An alternative reason that these SEAs might be viewed as not doing everything within their power to make grant seeking as easy as possible is that they might not always post every grant opportunity offered on their centralized grants webpage. Again, searching the SEA website is key in these instances. Doing so will ensure that you don’t miss out on any grants that slipped through the cracks and weren’t listed on the announcement page.
· Alabama State Department of Education (e-GAP portal log-in https://egrant.alsde.edu/Default.aspx)
· Arizona Department of Education (Grants Management Enterprise portal log-in https://gme.azed.gov/default.aspx?ccipSessionKey=636971602114793080)
· Delaware Department of Education (eGrants portal log-in https://egrants.doe.k12.de.us/default.aspx?ccipSessionKey=636971614232608694)
· Maine Department of Education (Grants Application and Reimbursement website https://www.4pcamaine.org/)
· Ohio Department of Education (Grants landing page that further links to current grant opportunities https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Finance-and-Funding/Grants)
· Oregon Department of Education (Grants and Funding Resources landing page https://www.oregon.gov/ode/schools-and-districts/grants/Pages/default.aspx)
· South Dakota Department of Education (Grants Management System portal log-in https://sddoe.mtwgms.org/SDDOEGMSWeb/logon.aspx)
· Vermont Agency of Education (Grants Management System log-in page https://vtaoe.mtwgms.org/vermontgmsweb/logon.aspx)
· Virginia Department of Education (OMEGA landing page http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/budget/grants_acct_reporting/omega/index.shtml)
· Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (iGrants portal log-in https://eds.ospi.k12.wa.us/iGrants/(S(yyydgn3rll4uyj2ltehfo255))/default.aspx)
These SEAs do offer competitive grant programs beyond just the federal pass-through opportunities, but not very often. Further, they don’t have a central clearinghouse where all available grant opportunities are listed. Instead you’ll need to dig through their websites and go to each program’s individual page. This is fine if you already know the name of the grant program for which you’d like information, but if you just want to take a general survey of what is available or see if there are any new one-off grant opportunities – you’ve got your work cut out for you. There is enough leg work involved with preparing a proposal once you’ve selected a grant, needing to first “deep-google” the SEA website to find an opportunity just adds another challenge.
· Florida Department of Education
· Georgia Department of Education
o Special shout out to Georgia’s Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. While the SEA website could be a bit more grant seeker friendly, the Governor’s Office’s website is great! Not only does it sponsor grant opportunities, but it also houses this information all in one easy-to-navigate place! (https://gosa.georgia.gov/current-grant-opportunities)
· Indiana Department of Education
· Kansas State Department of Education
· Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
· North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
· Tennessee Department of Education
Ample Room for Improvement.
This list of SEA’s is admittedly a hodge-podge. We couldn’t lump them in with those SEAs that don’t offer any grants beyond federal pass-through opportunities. However, it would also be misleading to characterize them as “pretty good” or “adequate” based upon the criteria we set for those categories. Read on to see our explanation for why each of these has been listed as “Ample Room for Improvement” and then judge how they should rank for yourself.
· Arkansas Department of Education (http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/communications/grant-opportunities)
o While they technically keep a running list of grant opportunities on their communications website, new competitive funding opportunities from this SEA are so infrequent that it could be more than a year or two until you see something pop up.
· Louisiana Department of Education (Funding landing page that further links to grant opportunity announcements https://www.louisianabelieves.com/funding)
o There is a grant funding landing page, however the information isn’t frequently updated and new opportunities are very few and far between.
· North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (School District Finance landing page https://www.nd.gov/dpi/SchoolStaff/SchoolFinance/SchoolDistrictFinance/)
o There is no centralized clearing house for grant opportunities, although occasionally some might be posted to the link noted above. That said, a website redesign has been set for roll out in August 2019, so perhaps we’ll see something more useful after the new website goes live.
· Oklahoma State Department of Education (Grants and Nominations website linking previous and current opportunities http://sde.ok.gov/sde/grants-and-opportunities)
o There is a grant funding landing page, however the information isn’t frequently updated and new opportunities are very few and far between.
Get Ready for Disappointment.
We’ve scoured these SEA websites, so you don’t have to waste your time for naught. Some have grants portals, others do not. As far as we can tell, however, each these SEAs only offer pass-through grant opportunities like 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Title IV, Part B) and Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding, or funding from other similar federally provided, re-granting buckets (e.g. the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Over the last year and a half, we’ve been monitoring SEA websites in anticipation of this article, none of these states have hosted their own unique competitive grant competitions.
· Hawai’i State Department of Education
· Montana Office of Public Instruction: (E-Grants portal log-in http://opi.mt.gov/Leadership/Finance-Grants/E-Grants)
· Nebraska Department of Education (Grants Management System portal log-in https://www.education.ne.gov/gms2/)
· West Virginia Department of Education
Do you disagree with our methodology? Let us know what factors you think are most important when determining grant seeker friendliness. Our categories are based solely on our staff’s preferences when navigating each SEA’s website. Grant announcements that are provided to Local Education Agencies through email listservs or direct mailers were not considered as a factor. We also fully acknowledge our bias against putting grant information behind a log-in wall. It could be that your SEA’s electronic grants announcement/submission portal is fabulous! However, many districts work with outside grant consultants when they are unable to keep a designated grants coordinator on the payroll. Our rationale for ranking those states lower is because these walls still present a barrier to some grant seekers.
Not pleased with where you state shows up on this list? We understand! Trust us, we’re also bummed that state-funded competitive K-12 grants either aren’t available or, if they are, the information isn’t easily accessible! As the old saying goes though, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Go out there and be squeaky with your SEA; let them know you expect better from their website. Afterall, they’re more interested in hearing from you – the boots on the ground in the schools – than us!