Learning & Leadership Grants

The NEA Foundation provides grants to support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes: Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes or action research; or grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment.

The grant amount is $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study. All $5,000 group grant applicants must include partner information. Deadlines for applications are due February 1, June 1, and October 15.


With the exception of study groups, applicants may not use grant funds to pay themselves stipends. Funds may not be used for lobbying or religious purposes. Identical applications will not be considered.


Grant funds may not be used to:

  • pursue degrees;
  • pay indirect costs, grant administration fees, or salaries; or
  • support travel costs or conference fees for more than one person.


All professional development must improve practice, curriculum, and student achievement. "One-shot" professional growth experiences, such as attending a national conference or engaging a professional speaker, are discouraged. Decisions regarding the content of the professional growth activities must be based upon an assessment of student work undertaken with colleagues, and must be integrated into the institutional planning process. Grant funds may be used for fees, travel expenses, books, or other materials that enable applicants to learn subject matter, instructional approaches, and skills. Recipients are required to exercise professional leadership by sharing their new learning with their colleagues.


Deadlines and Notification Dates

Applications may be submitted at any time. Applicants are encouraged to plan ahead. Applications are reviewed three times per year, every year.

    • Application Received By: February 1 Notification by: April 15

    • Application Received By: June 1 Notification by: September 15

    • Application Received By: October 15 Notification by: January 15


Please give careful attention to the timeline of your grant. Applications that include activities scheduled prior to the date of notification will not be considered. All lead grant applicants will be notified in writing. Please do not contact the Foundation regarding the status of your application prior to the notification date.



Grants will fund activities for twelve months from the date of the award.



  • Public school educators in grades PreK–12;
  • Public school education support professionals, or;
  • Faculty and staff at public higher education institutions.
  • Education support professionals*
  • Preference will be given to members of the National Education Association.


*Education support professionals can be classified as: para-educators, school bus drivers, maintenance and custodial staff, food services staff, school nurses and student services workers, clerical and office assistants, school security officers, and technicians.


*Administrators may not apply for Learning & Leadership grants, nor may they act as the partner applicant. Employees, members of the board of directors, and immediate family members of the staff and board of the NEA Foundation are not eligible to receive grants. Employees of the National Education Association are not eligible to receive grants.

Please check your application for compliance with these guidelines. Complete all required information. Assign a fiscal agent if desired. Failure to complete any of these items will disqualify your application.


All proposals must be submitted through the NEA Foundation’s online grant system.


The lead applicant will be the NEA Foundation’s contact person for award notification, reporting, publicity, and other grant-related activities. Administrators may not serve as either the lead or partner applicant. Applications missing lead applicant data will not be considered.

All $5,000 group grant proposals must include partner information. The partner should be prepared to assume leadership of the project should the lead applicant be unable to complete the work. Administrators may not serve as either the lead or partner applicant. Applications for group grants without partner data will not be considered. Applications submitted for individual grants do not need partner data.

The information for the fiscal agent should be entered in this section. Some of the information may already be entered based on the information used during the registration process. If no fiscal agent is being utilized the information contained below should be that of the lead applicant. Grant funds will be made payable to the lead applicant and reported to the Internal Revenue Service. The grant funds may be considered taxable income, so the lead applicant may wish to consult with his or her tax advisor before submitting the application. View our About Fiscal Agents page for more information.


Provide a summary of 100 words or less describing your proposed work. Please write in a manner in which you would be comfortable allowing the NEA Foundation to use on its website to describe your project. (For examples of how to write an abstract/summary, please view our Featured Grantees page for descriptions of our recently funded grants.)

Describe the professional development plan. What are your goals in this learning? What learning resources do you plan to use? How does the proposed professional development advance your professional goals? How does it advance your workplace goals?

How will this project continue beyond the grand period? How will you continue sharing the knowledge gained in this project? Describe sharing in relation to your colleagues, students, and administrators.

What is the need for this professional development? How did you and your colleagues assess the need? Please define need in terms of both student need and professional need by the applicant(s).

How, when, and where will the learning be accomplished? (Please be aware of the date of grant announcement. Any project taking place prior to the announcement will automatically be removed from consideration. Grant announcement dates can be found here.)

Please consult our Writing Tutorial page.


Provide a line item budget for the proposed work. Your request must total either $2,000 for an individual project or $5,000 for a group project. Identify any additional support (cash or in-kind) that will be provided by other sources, including those provided by your school/district/college/university. Your budget must be in the form of a Word, Excel, or PDF document. The NEA Foundation suggests that your budget be as cost-efficient as possible. Please ensure that all items are directly related to your proposed work, as your budget will be assessed by how realistic, clear, and frugal it is.


Selection Criteria

The NEA Foundation may allocate a number of grants based in part on geographic considerations.

    • Proposed learning is high quality


    • Proposed learning is directly related to a clear and compelling student need.

    • Proposed collegial sharing is interactive and sustained over time.


    • Proposed learning is likely to improve student achievement.

    • Budget is appropriate to the proposed learning and sharing.




Any practicing U.S. teacher, counselor, or education support professional* employed by a public school, including public higher education institutions, is eligible to apply for a grant from the Foundation. Educators in the Department of Defense school system are also eligible to apply. Full time administrators, such as principals, assistant principals, and school district staff, are not eligible.

*Education support professionals can be classified as: para-educators, school bus drivers, maintenance and custodial staff, food services staff, school nurses and student services workers, clerical and office assistants, school security officers, and technicians.

Although you may serve public school students through a community-based after school program, parochial school, or in some other setting, you are only eligible to apply if you are employed (and paid) by the local public school district. If your school is listed as part of the system on the district's web site you are probably eligible to apply.

No. Grant funds may not be used to reimburse expenses. Applications that include activities or expenses scheduled prior to the notification date will not be considered. Applicants are encouraged to plan ahead.

No. Group Learning & Leadership Grants are to fund collegial study and funds may not be used to support travel costs or conference fees for more than one person. One member of the study group may travel to the conference and share his or her knowledge with the rest of the group upon return.

Applications are reviewed three times a year, so you may submit an application at any time. However, if you want your application to be reviewed for a specific notification date, then you must submit your application by the posted deadline. For example, if you wish to be notified about funding by April 15th, then your application should be received by the close of business on February 1st. If your application is received on February 2nd or later, it will be held for the next round with notification by September 15th.

All lead grant applicants are notified via email. If you have not heard from the Foundation by the notification date, please contact us at foundation_info@nea.org.

No. Stipends, salaries, and grant administration fees are prohibited in the Student Achievement Grant guidelines. Applications that include these expenses will not be considered for funding. Stipends are only allowed as part of a group Learning & Leadership Grant.

While Student Achievement Grant funds may be used for resource materials, supplies, equipment, or technology, the proposed work must address students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. The grant should focus on deepening student knowledge and habits of inquiry and not on acquiring materials. To inquire about posting a project strictly for materials, please visit our DonorsChoose.org page.

Yes. The budget submitted with your application must account for the full grant amount. We do not award partial grants. You must also plan to spend all of the funds within 12 months of the notification date.

Yes. As long as you have submitted all of the required reports for your previous grant, you may apply for the foundation’s grant programs as many times as you wish. However, you must submit a unique proposal; identical applications will not be considered for funding.

No. If you do not designate a fiscal agent the grant will be made to the lead applicant and the IRS may consider the grant personal income and therefore taxable. Fiscal agents are usually non-profits, schools, districts, or local unions that can accept the funds without tax liability. Before you designate a fiscal agent, make sure you know the organization’s procedures for dispersing funds. You will have to abide by these procedures and should be sure you are comfortable working with that system. Find more information on fiscal agents.

The application process is highly competitive and like many other foundations we receive more worthy applications than we can fund. The foundation typically awards 150 to 170 Student Achievement Grants and Learning & Leadership Grants a year.


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