By Jesse Graytock, Grants Manager
Did you know that education support professionals, or ESPs, make up 40% of all public school employees? In other words, they play a key role in students’ success. That’s why, in the coming days, we’ll be featuring blogs related to all things ESPs.
On a pristine 68 degree Sunday morning in San Francisco early last month, when there was any number of reasons to be outside enjoying the glories of the day, a group of committed professionals, ESPs, decided that cramming into a tiny Marriott conference room and learning about grant resources was the top priority.
As the understanding of the role ESPs play in public education increases, so does their importance to the NEA Foundation. And as ESPs continue to search for new ways to include professional development in their career arcs, many are finding it increasingly necessary to secure outside funding to do so.
Which brings us back to the Marriott conference room. During the lively grant writing workshop during the NEA’s annual ESP Conference, we discussed the entirety of the grant preparation process – research, partners, writing, review, stewardship – and looked at not only the grants offered by the NEA Foundation, but dozens of opportunities available from other organizations. To top it all off, participants took a tour of the new online courses available from the NEA Foundation, discovering a whole new set of invaluable resources for attendees to add to their professional development quivers.
As the session wound down and folks scurried to catch flights home, I could tell that this group was ready to take action. “When I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the week, this was the course I knew I had to check out,” said Lonnell Davis, a bus driver in Austin Independent School District. “I always thought writing grants was difficult, but I know I can do it now.” He added, “I emailed you during your presentation to let you know I’ll be applying. It’ll be the first thing you see when you check your inbox.”
After reflecting on this great group of educators during my flight home, I returned to the office in DC to return to my normal routine. As I opened Outlook, I took a peek at the first email in my inbox to have arrived since I left for San Francisco. Lo and behold, it was from Lonnell Davis and was dated March 9. It read, “I am in your grant class this morning. Please send me the grant packet.” Mr. Davis, like the rest of his colleagues in the room, was serious about acquiring funds for professional development. And he was ready to get down to business.
Check back here in the coming days to find ideas for what kind of school projects or professional development opportunities can be funded through our grants for ESPs.