Frequently Asked Questions


What kind of grants does NEF fund?

The primary thing NEF looks for in grants is innovation. That means trying something new that enriches the education of our public school students. Our grants cover all areas of the curriculum, from the humanities, the sciences and the arts, social-emotional learning, and even some aspects of physical education.

We fund only projects that are outside normal and expected public funding. To ensure that each grant complements the curriculum, we require that every grant application have a school employee as part of the application team and be reviewed and approved by the relevant school principal and the district superintendent.

We also work with the school department on the Collaborative Initiative, In this program NEF works with school officials to jointly identify areas of need which can be enahanced in an innovative way. We fund all or part of a specific multi-year project that, like the Large Grant program, targets an activity that will have broad and lasting impact. Our first Collaborative Initiative, funded in 2007, was the high school's Global Competence program.
How much do you provide in grants?
Our Autumn and Spring Grant cycles fund up to $5,000 each. The Large Grant cycle funds up to $15,000. Aside from the size of the grants, the key difference between the two types of grants is that Large Grants are expected to have a broad and lasting impact across the school districts. The Autumn and Spring Grants often have a smaller scope.

Our annual grant making totals are dependent on the size of our sustaining fund. Historically, our total grant making is between $100,000 and $150,000 annually.
When do you fund them?
The deadline for Autumn Grant applications is usually in early October. Successful applicants are usually notified in November and can utilize their funds in the second semester of the same school year. The deadline for Spring Grants is usually early March. Successful Spring Grant applicants are usually notified by May and can utilize their funds in the coming school year.

The Large Grant application process has two phases. In late September, applicants must submit a brief concept paper. If accepted, applicants submit a complete application by mid-November. Successful applicants are notified in January.
Who can apply?
Anyone. However, to ensure that each grant complements the curriculum, we require that every grant application have a school employee as part of the application team and be reviewed and approved by the relevant school principal and the district superintendent.
How do I apply?
All applications are to be submitted online. Click here to submit your grant application.
Who decides?
A committee consisting of NEF board members and at-large members of the community.
How are the funds disbursed?
The grants are presented by the NEF for approval by the town school committee. Once the funds are accepted by the school committee, the NEF funds are delivered to the school department, which disburses the funds directly to the grant applicants.
I'm thinking about applying for a grant. What assistance is available to me?
The NEF cannot directly assist grant applicants. But the NEF's website has links to successful grant applications. Also, applicants can speak to the NEF representatives available in each school, and may also speak with Diane Simmons in the Needham public school administration. Grant writers may contact with any questions.  The NEF will help direct you to Board members who can provide you guidance.


How do you raise money?
All of our funds come from the community - individuals, businesses and community organizations contribute principally through three vehicles: Our direct appeal in the fall, our teacher recognition card program, and our Annual Spelling Bee. We also welcome and receive donations from foundations, estates, gifts, and corporate matching programs.
How is it spent?
The vast majority of our expenses are the grant applications we fund. For more detail, see our financial summary.
How is it invested?
We invest our funds in Fidelity mutual funds, balanced for a combination of income and growth.
What is your investing strategy in today's economy?
Like most investors, we are adjusting to a somewhat more conservation allocation to protect the NEF's assets.

About the NEF

Who is on your board of directors?
Our board consists purely of unpaid volunteers. They are Needham parents, teachers, and community members. They typically serve for three to five years, on a staggered basis to ensure continuity. We also employ a paid, part-time administrator.
How are they selected?
New board members are nominated by current board members. Typically we strive for balance among all of Needham's seven public schools. We also seek adequate representation from teachers, parents and community leaders. Because our board is a working board, we often seek to fill specific skills, such as finance, marketing and fundraising.
How can I help?
We frequently seek community members to serve on grant committees, the spelling bee, and other activities. If you're interested, please contact us at