Applying for an Arts Smart Grant: Not Something Easily Done Over A Weekend

One big drawback to learning about all these great innovations and tools in #eci831 is coming to the realization that in order to get them to your students, there is the matter of purchasing said technology. While I’ll happily buy the class an arduino or makey makey, getting a class set of iPads, or even a class set of anything would have my students pumped, but likely me without a home.

So where can we look for ways to find capital that will help us to realize the dreams we have for our classrooms?

Aside from working with the community in fundraising ventures, or working with your school admin to find ways to spend part of the budget on technology, grants from local, provincial, and national levels can make a huge difference.

Several weekends ago a good friend of mine Terri Fidelak spoke to me about writing an arts smart grant together. Although we didn’t have an idea yet, we both thought it might be a great idea to collaborate in order to come up with something great for the kids to experience. Little did I know, although in retrospect I guess I should have, how much work a grant could be.

The most important part of this particular grant is the idea, how it will evolve, and how it ties in with the curriculum. Starting at the curricular goals for Grade 5, we noticed a few that jumped out at us: Human Body Systems, Pop-Art, and Canadian relationship with the environment. From this we fashioned the idea of learning about human body systems concurrent to students learning the process of silkscreening. Students will create silkscreens of different human body systems, make t-shirts, in addition to child size prints of the overlapped systems which will be displayed at our local community center. We’re also hoping to get local businesses, like Flux Crossfit, interested in us putting up paper prints on the exterior of their store, using wheat paste. This style of grafitti is environmentally safe and non-toxic, with the best part being that the paper will come off when exposed to weather and a short time period of several months.

We’re also planning on making operation gameboards using Scratch and Makey Makey, via an instructable on the makey makey website, as well as more traditional forms of expression ranging from Lichtenstein’s pointillism and graphic design inspired prints, to monoprints through creation of an ad-hoc dark room.

While this is all going on, student groups will also be working on their own inquiry based projects into one of the human body systems. The end result will have them making presentations of what they have discovered, while also leading the class on the creation of a simple project that will make the learning more constructivist in nature.

We’re really excited with the idea, and we hope the grant committee does too.

Having the idea is the most important part, but it certainly isn’t the last. One still needs to justify the project, and to identify how the project will involve the community. Thankfully, this hasn’t been as difficult as I initially thought. Our school has lived in the Cathedral Village in Regina for the last 100 years, when all of a sudden, the building was deemed unsafe, and we were forced to uproot to a recently made vacant school outside our community.

Connaught School, 1915. Photo courtesy Heritage Canada 

This has put our school in a difficult position, because while we wait for the new school to be built on the former plot, we are not as visible to our community, making it difficult to interact with the community in the ways we formerly were able to do. This project provides the school a much needed excuse to get involved and work with local businesses and talented individuals in the community. This will aid in increasing school exposure, which will also help parents to recognize the great things we are still doing, even though we are not physically present in the community.

Connaught School’s former physical shell coming down, 2014. Photo courtesy Leader Post

Then there’s the budget, which is a whole new blog post, but likely one I won’t be writing. Nonetheless, the budget is very much an important part of any grant, and making mistakes in it could make for the application to be unapproved.

Aside from the arts, there are a lot of other grants available to schools and classrooms. I know SOEEA (Sask Outdoors) offers grant money to interested individuals and groups doing work with environmental pursuits. Heritage Saskatchewan also has a very through database of grants available to those living in Saskatchewan.

I’m sure this is just scratching the surface as to what grants are available for schools and classrooms. What has your experience with grants, and would there be any other grants you would recommend as being very beneficial? Please share below in the comments.

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