Guidelines for Success


  • Check below to see if you are eligible to apply for an NEF grant.
  • Secure a school-based partner if you are not an NPS employee.
  • Preview a Sample NEF Grant Application to understand what information is needed. (Note: Only applicable sections will need to be filled out.)
  • Contact the Administrative Director:
    • For Express Grants, to receive the original grant application and permission to proceed with your application.
    • For Large Grants, to confirm your idea is appropriate for a large grant.
    • If you are unsure of what type of grant to apply for or if you have any questions. We’re happy to help you brainstorm!
  • Review the items the NEF doesn’t fund and the top 10 reasons a grant isn’t funded.
  • Inform your school principal and other grant authorizers about your grant idea and garner their support before submitting an application.
  • Review the NPS purchasing requirements and contact the NPS Business Office with any questions before submitting an application.
  • For first-time users, set up an account in the NEF Grant System. Note: The person who applies for the grant will serve as the NEF’s primary contact for the duration of the grant process.
  • Complete your application before the deadline.
  • Check below to understand the NEF Grant review process and timeline.
  • Download the NEF Grant Application Checklist for future reference.

NEF Grant Eligibility

Any Needham Public Schools educator, administrator, or community member, including parents or students, may apply for a grant to benefit the Needham Public Schools. Note: If you are not an NPS employee, you will need to work with a school-based partner who is an employee. See more information below.

Parents, Students, and Community Members Need an NPS School-Based Partner

All applicants who are not employed by the Needham Public Schools must have an NPS employee school-based partner before they submit a grant application. The partner may be a teacher, principal, specialist, or administrator at a school impacted by the grant. The partner should be involved in or impacted by the implementation of the grant, should it be awarded. Record the name of your school-based partner on the grant application.

What Doesn’t NEF Fund?

NEF does not fund any costs associated with the following:

  • A repeat of an NEF grant at the same school.
  • Basic school needs.
  • Books, technology, or equipment that replaces outdated materials for existing programs.
  • Expansion of the quantity of existing technology in the absence of a new innovative use or need.
  • Transportation for students or staff on school field trips. Performer, expert and professional development-related travel fees (economy only) will be considered.
  • Food for grant participants unless integral to the grant implementation.
  • Substitute teachers.
  • Out-of-town professional development opportunities if there is a local alternative.
  • Ongoing funding for existing programs.
  • Any expenses incurred before grants funds are available.

Top 10 Reasons NEF Doesn’t Fund a Grant

We want NEF Grant applicants to be successful! Avoid these common pitfalls when applying for a grant:

  1. Your grant is too similar to a grant the NEF already funded at your school. The NEF doesn’t grant repeat or ongoing funding.
  2. Your grant is not authorized by your school’s Principal. Make sure you get their support before applying.
  3. Your grant doesn’t show a strong enough connection to the curriculum or school goals. Make sure you explain the connection.
  4. Your grant isn’t very innovative or enriching. Consider PTC funding instead.
  5. Your grant project plan or budget is vague. Be specific about your grant plans and describe all of your planned purchases.
  6. Your grant lacks support from key stakeholders. Make sure to include the teachers and administrators who support your project or will be involved with the implementation in your application.
  7. Your grant is for something the school budget should cover. The NEF doesn’t replace existing or broken materials or equipment.
  8. For Large grants, not showing the potential for significant positive impact, including broad or deep impact and a lasting effect. Contact us at if you are unsure whether a Large Grant is appropriate for your project.
  9. For Express grants, not getting feedback from the original grant. Contact us at if you have trouble obtaining feedback.
  10. For Professional Development grants, not including a plan for how the training will be used and/or shared with your peers. Describe the immediate and ongoing impact on students or staff.

Garner Support for Your Grant Proposal

All applicants should contact the principal at each school that will be impacted by the grant to gain their support prior to completing an application. Before the grant committee can review the proposal, the application will be sent to the principal of each impacted school for approval. If the applicant is a principal or from Central Administration, superintendent authorization will be required.

All applicants requesting funds for technology should contact Jean Tower, Director of Technology and Innovation, and Mark Messias, Administrator of Information Technology Services, prior to completing an application. Before the grant committee can review the proposal, the application will be sent to Jean and Mark for approval to ensure that the technology request aligns with the district’s technology curriculum and support services.  

All applicants requesting funds for professional development should contact Terry Duggan, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning, prior to completing an application. Before the grant committee can review the proposal, the application will be sent to Terry for approval.

Grant Budget and NPS Purchasing Requirements

All grant applications must include an uploaded budget with an itemized list of all expenses associated with the grant request. Applicants should provide specific details as to how grant funds will be used as NEF does not award lump sums. In addition, NEF is unable to add additional funds to a grant request after the grant has been awarded. Please ensure that all costs associated with your project (e.g. shipping) have been included in your grant budget.

All grant funds will be distributed through the Needham Public Schools Business Office; therefore, all planned purchases must be made through approved NPS vendors or otherwise follow the NPS procurement process. If the items you would like to purchase are not available from an NPS vendor, contact the Business Office for more information to avoid confusion or a funding delay. In addition, payments made to outside professionals could have tax implications if they are considered a temporary employee. Questions about these procedures should be directed to the Business Office at 781-455-0400 or

If you are receiving additional financial support for your project from other groups, such as the PTCs, the Needham Creative Arts Council, or another granting organization, please share that information in the budget section of your proposal. NEF encourages collaborative funding efforts.

Grant Review Process

NEF grant review committees are comprised of approximately 12 people, including NEF board members, Needham teachers, and at least one Needham community member.

The grant committee members discuss each application with regard to the NEF mission and grant evaluation criteria before making funding recommendations to the full NEF Board of Directors. They may seek additional information from the grant applicants during the deliberation process. While each application is evaluated based on its individual merit, the committee may recommend the deferral of an application if the number of approved grants exceeds the grant budget. The committee may also choose to offer partial funding for a grant at their discretion.

Once approved by the NEF Board of Directors, the recommended grants are presented to the Needham School Committee for final acceptance, after which time the awards are announced by NEF, approximately 4-5 weeks after the grant deadline.

Grant Award Process

All grant recipients are required to:

  • Attend a meeting with the NPS Business Office to receive instructions for accessing grant funds. It takes several weeks for this process to be completed, so grant recipients should not expect to have access to grant funds until approximately 2-3 weeks after award notification (6-8 weeks after the grant deadline).
  • Complete the Grant Implementation Form within 30 days of the grant award date.
  • Complete the Grant Reflection Form within 30 days of the completion of the grant project.
  • Publicize their grant within the school/Needham community, crediting the NEF’s sponsorship with @nefneedham on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
  • Complete their grant project within one year. If necessary, contact the NEF Administrative Director to seek approval for a grant extension.
  • Use their grant funds as described in the grant application and budget. If necessary, contact the NEF Administrative Director to seek approval for a grant amendment. Note: Grant funds can be reallocated for another purpose, but additional grant funds cannot be awarded.

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