Whether you are a school teacher, center director, principal or district administrator, one problem will always be on your mind: How do I get more funding?
Funding for education ebbs and flows in the United States. As a result, schools and centers are always on the hunt for sources that can supplement their learning spaces. But finding the funding opportunities can feel like a full-time job. In the often overworked and busy schedules of teachers, most educators do not have the resources to commit to it. With so much information out there, and so little free time, where should you start?
This is a great time to go to your trusted vendor you purchase from. Vendors are always on top of the biggest grant or funding opportunities because they need to be ready to support those demands for products.
At Kaplan Early Learning Company, we have these types of conversations with customers all of the time, and we help them get smart on new funding opportunities, and also navigate the application process. To better help customers find extra funding, we put together a short list of easy ways to hunt for funding opportunities in their areas.
Step 1: Visit your local CCR&R agency for help find childcare funding and support services
Funding is available from state, local, federal, and private sources. Local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies are very dialed into what national, state, and local funding is available to educators. CCR&Rs are here to connect families with quality childcare solutions in their region.
Many times, large federal funding streams will come through the CCR&Rs for distribution to qualified recipients. These agencies are always monitoring the market, looking for new opportunities that will help children and families get the best possible childcare. To that end, childcare businesses should be in touch with their local representatives to make sure they are hearing the latest opportunities.
Don’t know how to find your local CCR&R? No problem. Contact an educational sales rep from one of your vendors. Vendor reps should be close to the funding decision makers in their regions, so take advantage of their connections.
CCR&Rs, which can go by different names, are organized by geographic area, so a quick internet search is also a great place to start. As an example, this North Carolina CCR&R site does a great job of teaching what they do, and how to access the funding that their system distributes. They have easy ways to search by geography and easy-to-find contact information.
Another benefit to working with CCR&Rs is they will help you with many other business needs, from opening a new learning center to improving an existing center. They will help you develop a business plan, understand licensing requirements, structure student/teacher ratios, implement teacher training, and more.
Step 2: Look for large grants or foundations focused on early childhood education
A quick web search will result in many organizations and foundations that regularly offer early education funding. Some of them offer funding all year round, while others have more specific and timely opportunities.
Now is the time to get creative with your searching! Is the American Academy of Dermatology offering grants for schools that need protective shading on the playground? How about a grant for STEM supplies to meet the needs of workers who are fluent in the math and science fields? Check your state department websites, including the office of the governor, as well as federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education.
Step 3: Find out if local business leaders are connected with childcare investments for the local workforce
Smart business owners know the value of strong local education systems. Employees with small children need access to quality, affordable childcare in order to work, so business administrators see childcare as a recruiting and retention tactic.
Business leaders also know the value of training the next generation of workers: having a network of quality early childhood centers nurtures little learners who will grow up to be contributing members of the local economy. In that way, supporting quality childcare is an economic investment for the entire area.
Knowing these key pieces of information will help you approach business leaders and business coalitions for funding opportunities. Many of them might operate foundations of their own. Start with searching within your local city, then broaden to the county and state to see if any grants exist for childcare providers supporting the local economy.
\Many opportunities for supplemental funding exist, and new opportunities come up every week. Finding them can take time, but this process can be easier if you are dialed into your local CCR&Rs and have regular communication with your trusted vendor partners. If you want to start a conversation with a Kaplan sales rep, click here to find the rep near you. Our sales team has worked with state agencies and CCR&Rs for decades, so they are a wonderful resource for early childhood businesses.