Realizing that our customer's budgets may be limited, we make every effort to stay aware of grants and technology funding assistance programs. We use this information to educate and assist our clients in obtaining the financial assistance they need to purchase the systems they desire.
The E-Rate program is a federally run program that provides eligible K-12 public schools and libraries discounts, ranging from 20% to 90%, on approved telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections costs. The program, which is administered by the Schools & Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company.
E-rate discounts are based on the poverty level and the urban/rural status of the applicant. Although the E-rate application process can be difficult and schools must make strategic decisions about the level of discounts for which they will apply, every school should consider applying for E-rate discounts.
Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)
The Qualified Zone Academy Bond program (http://www.qzabs.com) - Began in 1998 as a funding mechanism for renovation or repair projects for schools (primarily facility & infrastructure improvements but includes equipment). The program is financed by providing interest free loans to schools by giving tax credits to financial institutions purchasing the bonds (this could save the school up to 50% of the project cost). $400 million is allocated to the states annually (Georgia usually receives around $11.5 million per year) in bonding authority. To be eligible, schools must have at least a 35% Free and Reduced Lunch Rate and 10% of the total bond value must be paid for through a partnership with a private business (either via equipment, cash donation, technical assistance for teacher training, or internships). Georgia begun using this program in 2002, allocating close to $44 million to 19 different school systems (by using all of the prior four years’ allocation in one year).
RUS Grant: Distance Learning & Telemedicine Program
Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants are specifically designed to provide access to education, training and health care resources for people in rural America. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program (administered by the DLT Branch of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS)) funds the use of advanced telecommunications technologies to help communities meet those needs. The grants, which are awarded through competitive process, may be used to fund telecommunications, computer networks and related advanced technologies.
For more information on RUS Grants, go to: http://www.usda.gov/rus/telecom/dlt/dlt.htm
As for where to find more information on different types of grants, the best place to start is by reviewing the No Child Left Behind Act (revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). All federal education grants are housed under this act: http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml
eSchool News is also a good publication for updates on grants and grant deadlines: http://www.eschoolnews.com/erc/funding