How to fund your classroom audio project
By Alison Attebery
There are many types of funding opportunities that can help classrooms implement instructional audio systems, whether at the school site, district, community, state or federal level. Navigating funding sources – both public and private – can be challenging, here are some ideas on how to identify support for your immediate needs, for the next school year, and beyond.
Identify what district funding may be available
Funding opportunities may be available within your existing school budget. An excellent place to start is understanding different budget categories to maximize possible funds. Because of the various benefits it provides, classroom audio can fall under many budget “buckets,” such as some of the ones highlighted in this guide to school budgets from the American Association of School Administrators:
Technology or Instructional: These categories typically include classroom tools.
- Curriculum and Staff Development: Lightspeed’s Activate system, along with supporting small group learning, can be used to capture and share video and audio for professional development.
- SPED: While everyone benefits from the even distribution of sound it provides, classroom audio systems can be especially helpful in supporting hearing deficit students or those with other learning difficulties.
As you partner with your principal or department heads to discuss implementing this tool, here are some resources highlighting how classroom audio supports learning. Our e-book, Improving Student Learning through Clear, Intelligible Sound, offers an overview of wide-ranging research on the benefits of instruction audio.
Partnering with school boosters
Another possible funding source is your school’s parent/teacher organizations. These groups are already familiar with fundraising for your school and have relationships with community members that could offer assistance. Parents are an invaluable resource, like these two moms who partnered with their district to get classroom audio and or with this California school who asked parents to help pitch in other places so the school could afford classroom audio.
Making instructional audio part of construction or renewal projects
Check if there are any bond funding opportunities in your district. New construction bonds are a great opportunity to get classroom audio included when new schools are being designed –like this Colorado school district. Bonds supporting retrofits and updating A/V equipment are also a great time to talk to your administration about adding classroom audio.
Also, ask your purchasing department or administration what contracts your school district currently holds or could use that might include classroom audio. Statewide, district and cooperative purchasing contacts may provide discounted pricing, free shipping or other benefits that decrease costs.
Accessing federal and state funding to support learning tools
Consider what federal and state sources are available. A number of COVID relief programs, include funding for tools that facilitate learning, including classroom audio systems. Especially with federal programs, there can be a lot of terms to digest, so review this primer on many of the relief programs introduced during the pandemic. Pay close attention to program deadlines: Pandemic-related funding programs are not on-going and must use-or-lose the funding before the program expires.
With teachers reporting a 10% improvement in reading and language test scores with classroom audio, ongoing Title I funds may be a good fit for your school. Though many think of Title I funding as supporting remedial instruction, the the program is designed to support schoolwide educational program updates to increase low-performing student achievement – including purchasing technology devices.
If your school is in a smaller or rural district, you can also check to see if your district receives Rural, Low-Income School (RLIS) grants, which provide financial assistance to rural school districts to help improve student achievement. Another federal source may be Small, Rural School Achievement Program (SRSA) grants, which help small rural educational agencies use federal resources more effectively to increase student academic achievement.
Also, be sure to visit your state’s education department website. States are continuously passing bills and legislature to support educational needs.
Identify community partners and grants
Local foundations, boards, and businesses committed to helping improve education can also be a valuable resource to support classroom audio projects. This Michigan elementary school is an example of how community foundations can help.
There are also numerous nationwide grants your school can pursue. THE Journal keeps an updated list of educational funding opportunities. The National Education Association also maintains a list of grant programs. The National Charter School Resource Center also maintains a list of funding opportunities.
Partner with Lightspeed
Classroom audio systems are important tools to increasing class participation, improving test scores, and decreasing behavioral issues
Lightspeed has a mission to help every student hear every word and has been working with educators for thirty years, partnering with districts across the nation. We can help you find innovative ways to implement this valuable tool for classroom engagement, collaboration and learning. Contact a consultant today to learn how we can help you.