I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but I've spent a lot of time this year working on a grant application which would greatly expand access to assistive technology on campus. The overarching idea of the project (which started before I started working here) is to make the resources of the library universally accessible, regardless of learning disability. The big idea of the project was that we were going to make text-to-speech programs available on the network, rather than on stand-alone machines. There are, obviously, a lot of licensing and infrastructure costs involved--as well as training to do--but this project would have been a huge step forward for us, and I was really excited about it.
I found out on Friday that our grant request was denied.
I'm way less upset about it now than I was on Friday, but I'm still frustrated. The organization we were applying to had funded the early stages of this project, and--especially given that they also came for a visit to the school, for which I prepared a rather elaborate presentation--I felt fairly confident that we would at least get some, if not all, of the money we asked for. Based on their previous funding of the project, the fact that they'd invited us to apply, and their response during their actual visit, I don't think my optimism was unfounded. So mostly I was just shocked. Especially since one of the reasons they gave for not granting our request was that they're moving away from funding technology projects.
Which is fine, and their prerogative and all that, but it would have been helpful information to have a little earlier in the process. I feel like I spent six months barking up a non-existent tree. And it's not like all of a sudden the need for these funds has disappeared; we still need to move forward--though mostly likely more slowly than originally planned--with this project. So now begins the process of looking for other funding.
This whole "love your project but it's not the type of thing we're looking to fund" thing has got me thinking about mission statements. While mission statements can easily become vague and empty, well-written mission or vision statements provide a certain amount of clarity. The group we applied to funds all sorts of projects, which I think is great, but the general direction of their funding has shifted over the years, particularly as the membership changes. Having a well-crafted mission statement would provide clarity and focus not only to the work that they're doing, but to the people who they work with. Which would be nice.
Now for the good news.
My school did recently get a grant that would, amongst other things, send three teachers to the ISTE Conference in Denver at the end of the month. A math teacher, a science teacher, and a player to be named later. I am, of course, neither a math nor a science teacher, but they were looking for the third person to be someone with experience both as a leader and with technology. And my headmaster suggested me. Which is pretty awesome.
So, on the 24th I will head to DC for ALA, and then right from there to Denver for ISTE. I've been geeking out on the online conference planners for both, and am kind of ridiculously excited.