The short answer is yes, there are grant opportunities for digital signage in education. They are as close as your local Internet. The long answer, however, is yes, there are grant opportunities. You just have to look for them. We have a few simple suggestions to get you started and headed in the right direction. But first there is one grant opportunity we feel you should explore before any others. That is the STEM grant.
In 2010 President Obama declared a marked shortage in America of students being educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Comparatively few American students pursue expertise in those fields, and there is an inadequate number of teachers who are skilled enough to teach them. Included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal were several investments that were designed to improve both teaching and learning STEM subjects. Digital signage is part of that plan. In fact, federal funding is increasing. If your grant request includes a plan to create labs and workshops specifically for STEM subjects using signage, your chances of being approved increase. Folks active in business education professional groups working to raise awareness of STEM education believe strongly that the US needs a lot more people educated in the STEM subjects so that they have current and future economic opportunities and skills.
Before you pursue other grant opportunities be sure you first do the following with your educational signage plan:
- Develop a plan
- Test drive the system
- Negotiate a price that includes any software/support you may need
- Be sure it’s adaptable for the future
Start by developing a plan for the scale of your signage and what you want it to accomplish. How many signs, how big, where will they be deployed, what kind of network will they be hooked up to? Will they be used to stream live school sports events and concerts? Will they display upcoming school events? Will they showcase student achievement?
Extensively test drive the system or sit in on in-depth product demos. You and others in your school will want to make sure you have personnel lined up who can run, or program to run, the equipment/software/network. You should also find out about the cost of support at this point as well as the availability of after hours tech support if needed. Will there be additional software the school will have to purchase in order to run the programs you want?
Now you can begin to get a price for the system you want for your school. Be sure it’s adaptable for the future. If you can state with confidence, backing up your claim with hard facts, that the technology you are recommending will not be obsolete in the future your chance of being awarded that grant money just increased. You want your system to be able to be scaled to meet the future needs of the school.
If you’re ready to begin your search for grant money, here are some tips. If you want to do any live streaming, consider applying with the schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly know as the E-rate program. It helps schools and libraries obtain broadband at a greatly discounted cost.
Because digital signage for education can also be used as a tool for emergency notification and communication, a case can easily be made that signage is a must-have component of any crisis plan. So consider government sources of funding. Federal funds are available from the U.S. Department of Justice, for example. Also try the Federal Education and Homeland Security Departments. Grants for emergency management and preparedness systems from The Homeland Security Administration may be obtained if you have included emergency broadcast capabilities in your system. Finally, you can Google “emergency education” and look for grants that way.