Funding, one of the biggest questions that I run in to when recommending new resources. Not all free resources are the best resources, sometimes you need to look at resources that require a purchase. Changing your perspective from “I can’t” to “I can” will lead you to a path of eventually getting the money you need to reach your goals for your room. The place to start is knowing where to get the funds. There is more money out there beyond the budget you have available. Some teachers might have enough to get new things for their room every year, but some might not have a budget at all. Know that a lot of the resources you want to add to your teaching arsenal are able to be purchased or should be purchased with other school budgetary funds, federal/state money, or grants. There are always other ways to get what you need, you just need to know where to start. I have seen many teachers who have gone after grants and more who have come away with new interactive boards to instruments for their programs.
When it comes to federal and state funding, there are several places you can look at that come into your school. The first being Title I funding. If you know that you are a Title 1 school, then you as the music teacher can request items using Title 1 funding. This does not necessarily mean you will get it, but due to the ESSA legislature that was signed back in 2015 declaring Music as a core subject, you have every right to ask. Schools, in the end, are the ones to choose how those budgets are spent, sometimes you might get it and sometimes you will not. If you do land a spot in the budget though and what you are asking for is a recurring charge, most likely it will stay as a line item in the budget for a long while. The other federal funding that is more geared towards the arts is that of Title IV, this is more of a “grant pot” that schools or states can distribute out to different projects and programs based on need. For this, it would be best to put together a budget and proposal for what you are looking for before asking. With any federal funding that comes into your school or district, it will go through an administrator who is either a coordinator for that budget or someone like the principal. Find out who that is and sit down to chat with them first to see what the best way to move forward is!
Local funding is a whole different beast. This can go to your school or local community. There are certain budgets that your principal might have access to which can help you acquire new resources. Sometimes this is not always the case but it is always worth asking your supervisor or principal about the possibility of getting certain resources such as a new instrument, small set of mobile devices, or even curriculum. If they have the wiggle room to get it for you, they most likely will be willing to help you out or at least pay for a portion of it and use some of your budgets to get the rest. Within your local community, there are many local businesses who might be willing to sponsor your program. From UNO’s School nights to local businesses purchasing ad space in your programs to help fund your program. Make friends and partnerships with your community!
Crowdsourcing websites such as AdoptaClassroom.org and DonorsChoose.org make it easy for teachers to fundraise from many donors at one time to get materials that they need. These sorts of websites are perfect for low to mid-range priced projects. If you are able to use these websites with permission from your district. Always make sure to have a project up and follow the guidelines of the website. You never know when an anonymous donor could come to fund the whole thing!
Grants are a great way to get projects funded for your classroom. Most grants require some sort of project or proposal of how the funds will get used. The more creative proposal or project the more of a chance it will get selected. Also, because arts teachers interact with almost every student in the school the chances for a grant are higher since the funds will impact more students. A good place to start is https://www.grants.gov . You can always search through state websites as well and places like Lowe’s and Target do small grants as well for teachers.
There are all kinds of different funding routes out there. You just need to know where to start. Start asking and you’ll find the path that works for you so you can get the tools to great memorable learning experiences for your students!