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 Sarah Winig, the Administrative Director:
    • For Express or Repeat 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 get their support before submitting an application.
  • Review the NPS purchasing requirements and contact your school bookkeeper 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:

  • 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  • Books, technology, or equipment that replaces outdated materials for existing programs.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 fund repeat grants unless more than 4 years have passed.
  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 Sarah Winig, the Administrative Director, 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 Sarah Winig, the Administrative Director, 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 an Assistant Superintendent, authorization from the district Superintendent will be required.

All applicants requesting funds for technology should contact Chris Gosselin, Director of Media and Digital Learning, 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 Carmen Williams, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction & Innovation, prior to completing an application. Before the grant committee can review the proposal, the application will be sent to Carmen for approval.

Grant Budget and NPS Purchasing Requirements

The NEF suggests reading through the Grant Budget and NPS Purchasing Requirements sections thoroughly in order to avoid any potential delays and/or unexpected issues with your grant award.

Project Budget
All grant applications must include an uploaded budget with an itemized list of 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. Since the 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, such as shipping costs, have been included in your grant budget.

Purchasing Process
All grant funds will be distributed through the Needham Public Schools Business Office. The purchase of all goods and services must follow NPS procurement procedures according to MA state law. This includes:

    Click for more information on NEF grant funding.

    • Using Approved Vendors – Find your goods (e.g. books, classroom materials, equipment) or services (e.g. guest speaker, author, artist, performer, professional development) from NPS-approved vendors. Use their pricing in your grant budget. Ask your school or department bookkeeper for help finding items from approved vendors. The grant funding infographic has some tips on finding items from approved vendors.
    • Items Not Available from Approved Vendor – If your desired goods or services are not available from an approved vendor, make sure you have found the needed quality of supplies and services at a reasonable price and use that pricing information in the grant budget. If applicable, save any internet searches showing there are no other vendors who offer your goods or services.
    • Procurement Process Timing – If you are not using an NPS-approved vendor, the Business Office will conduct the procurement process once the grant is awarded. During this process, they will determine if your vendor is a sole source, or if multiple vendors exist, they may request three quotes to determine the best price for the desired qualifications. Until this process is complete, a vendor is not guaranteed. If your grant application is for a service (e.g. author visit, musical group, speaker), we recommend including language in your application that details the specific provider’s qualifications and why they are best suited for your grant. Please also understand that the procurement process takes time and you should allow for that in your grant timeline.
    • Contractor vs Temporary Employee Status for Guests – When bringing in a guest, the Business Office will determine whether the guest is considered a contractor or a temporary employee. Someone who typically works in education will likely be considered a temporary employee. Someone who typically works in another field, like an author or artist, will likely be considered a contractor. Contractors must provide proof of insurance (general liability and motor vehicle, though these may be waived for remote appearances) and complete a W-9. Temporary employees need to complete a W-4 and taxes will be withdrawn from their pay. The Business Office will handle this process if the grant is awarded, though it is important that the guest be made aware of the process and understand that NPS will perform its due diligence to ensure quality guests for Needham’s students.
    • Get Help – If you have any questions about this process, please contact Sarah Winig, NEF Administrative Director at For help in finding items from NPS-approved vendors, contact your school or department bookkeeper.

    Collaborative Funding
    If you are receiving additional financial support for your project from other groups, such as the PTCs 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 if using NPS-approved vendors or longer if a procurement process is needed.
    • 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.

    Ready to Apply?