Guidelines for Success
NEF is eager to support your ideas and help you successfully obtain funding. Adherence to the guidelines below will increase the likelihood that your grant application will be approved.
What Does NEF Fund?
NEF-funded programs should enhance, but not duplicate, the standard public school curriculum. We look for creative ideas that fall outside the ordinary school budget and augment the curriculum or further the district goals in a meaningful way.
- Projects that focus on traditional academic subjects, visual and performing arts, engineering and technology, social/emotional learning, equity issues, and more.
- Programs for enrichment, interdisciplinary study, emerging technologies, and the promotion of multicultural and community learning experiences.
- Programs that enhance the existing curriculum through visits from outside speakers, performers, or artists.
- Projects that demonstrate partnerships between and among teachers, schools, and disciplines.
- Replication of a successful program at a different school.
- Books or equipment as a new addition to the curriculum or an innovative enhancement to existing programming.
- Professional development (PD) for new programs or innovative teaching methods, including cost of tuition, registration, travel (economy), room and board (NPS rates), and the purchase of materials and supplies. Applicants must be NPS employees. Priority will be given to first-time PD applicants.
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- Books, technology, or equipment that replaces outdated materials for existing programs.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.
- Previously approved projects at the same school.
- Ongoing funding for existing programs.
- Any expenses incurred before grants funds are available.
Characteristics of Successful Grant Applications
When reviewing grant applications, NEF grant committees look for the following:
- A clearly explained, meaningful connection to the curriculum and/or the district priorities.
- A clearly explained, well-developed plan of action, including a detailed budget.
- A clear description of the support for this grant by key stakeholders.
- The extent to which each proposal is innovative, enriching, collaborative, impactful, and/or sustainable, as appropriate for the specific request. See Grant Evaluation Criteria for examples of how NEF uses these terms.
- For Express grants, an explanation of how the project is a good fit for your school and how feedback from the original grant will impact your project.
- For professional development (PD) related grants, a plan for how the lessons learned will be used and shared in order to have the greatest potential impact on students and/or staff. NEF recognizes that a group attending the same PD could have a greater impact. If a group seeks to attend the same PD opportunity, they should apply together on one application.
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.
Garner Support for Your Grant Proposal
All applicants should contact the principal at each targeted school 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(s) 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.
All applicants requesting funds for professional development must discuss their proposal and secure a letter of support from their Curriculum Coordinator, Department Head or direct supervisor before applying for funding. Applicants should also notify Terry Duggan, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning, of their plans. Before the grant committee can review the proposal, the application will be sent to Terry for approval.
Vendor, Procurement, and Budget 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 itemized expenses should meet the procurement requirements of the Needham Public Schools for the current academic year (e.g. all grant materials and equipment will need to be purchased through approved NPS vendors). Questions about these procedures should be directed to the Business Office at 781-455-0400.
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 efforts.
Grant Review Process
NEF grant committees are groups of approximately 12 people, including NEF board members, Needham teachers, and one or two community members.
The committees meet two times to discuss the grant applications. Between meetings, they may seek additional information from applicants for both large and small grants. The grant committee members discuss and deliberate the merits of each application with regard to the NEF mission and grant evaluation criteria before making funding recommendations to the full NEF Board of Directors. The committees may choose to offer partial funding for a grant at their discretion.
Grant Award Process
Following the grant announcements, the NEF works with the NPS Business Office to set up accounts for grant funds. You will be contacted by Pam Piersiak of the NPS Business Office to set up a meeting. You are required to attend this meeting to obtain your account number and review the purchase order process. It takes several weeks for this process to be completed, so grant recipients should not expect to have access to grant funds until approximately 6-7 weeks after the application deadline.
You will receive a grant award email from NEF describing the two follow-up forms required as part of your grant award. The Grant Implementation Form must be submitted within 30 days of the grant award date. The Grant Reflection Form must be submitted within 30 days of the completion of your grant project.
NEF requires grant recipients to publicize their grants in their school community. Please promote your project or event in a notice to parents, your Twitter feed, a school bulletin, the school website, and/or the local newspaper or cable station, crediting NEF’s sponsorship.
You have one year to complete your grant project. Should you need access to the grant funds beyond one year, please contact Sarah Winig to request a Grant Amendment/Extension Form. Extensions must be authorized by the NEF and the NPS Business Office will be notified.
Grant recipients are required to use their funds in the manner that was outlined in the grant application. If you wish to change how your grant funds will be spent, please contact Sarah Winig to request a Grant Amendment/Extension Form. Note: Grant funds can be reallocated for another purpose, but additional grant funds cannot be awarded. Amendments must be authorized by the NEF and the NPS Business Office will be notified.