Educators are natural creators. Between planning lessons, devising project plans and honoring each student during an ordinary workday, the craft of teaching demands endless creativity. Even still, for many educators, the idea of drafting a proposal to fund a new endeavor might seem daunting.
Historically, philanthropy within education has been defined by strict power dynamics: The funder holds the key and sets the markers for project completion. Rather than relying on problematic power dynamics and rigid hierarchies wherein the funder makes all the rules, Learning for Justice is working to create an equitable application process: We want to work in mutual partnership with educators and school communities.
The first step toward building those partnerships is to demystify our funding process. We seek to support as many equity-focused projects as we can, so we hope that breaking down what we look for in an Educator Fund proposal will encourage you to apply.
Begin with desired outcomes and plan backward.
Just as educators use backward design in their lesson planning, effective LFJ Educator Fund proposals put the systemic issue at the hearts of their applications. A proposal could address how the project will contribute to the elimination of the school-to-prison pipeline, for instance, or how the project will work toward dismantling oppressive narratives in K-12 curricula. What are some of the best ways to uproot the problem you identify? What is the outcome you are hoping your project will achieve?
Be precise when it comes to the overall vision.
While devising an effective funding proposal calls for big-picture thinking, it’s important to be as specific as possible about the issue your project addresses and how you will reach your project goals. We encourage you to name the systemic issue at hand in detail and specify any related circumstances you have observed. What in your school community has moved you to create a project that the LFJ Educator Fund can support? Clearly articulate how your project will address inequities at their root rather than simply relieve symptoms of the issue. And explain how you will measure the impact of the project over time. Will you use qualitative narratives, quantitative data or both?
Don’t sweat the (logistical) small stuff.
While it is important to proofread your application, fretting over whether you’ll need 50 or 55 copies of a certain book for your project is not the point. Since the project hasn’t yet happened as you’re drafting the proposal, we don’t expect you to have all the minutiae planned out ahead of time. We recommend spending the majority of your brain power on your overarching vision, the equity issue it addresses and how it’s going to improve the experiences of all students.
I hope you’ll find these pointers useful as you think about crafting an LFJ Educator Fund proposal. Please reach out with any questions you may have about any aspect of the application process. We are dedicated to collaborating with educators, the obvious experts about the needs of their own school communities, to eliminate systemic inequities and offer resources wherever we can.
Please let us know how we can work together to liberate students—and all of us—from the structures that keep us bound. We look forward to being in touch with you.
The LFJ Educator Fund supports three types of projects: classroom level, school level and district level. Read about our vision, guidelines, deadlines and more here.