Invisible Funding

I was stuck on what invisible of education to expose. I decided to check out what our friends at Stories From School Washington had revealed.  I read their blogs and immediately my invisible list began to grow. And grow. And grow. 

I deal with Invisible Funding a lot. Daily we hear about funding or lack thereof, but it especially ramps up around March here in Tucson as the budgets begin to be revealed.  In May, site councils vote on tax credit credit expenditures, and over the summer or just before the start of the school year PTAs meet to allocate what they can support. They all have one thing in common: monies are never the same each year.  Nothing is safe. 

To support a program, field trip or class project, teachers invisibly reach out to other funding sources through grant writing. Although also unstable sources, they are wonderful ways to begin or maintain classroom and school happenings.

Usually only funded for one year, grants require a plan for a project with meaning and here is where our invisible work becomes revealed. This might require a team of teachers and/or parents or just one teacher. It requires the blessing of your administrator and school district with their signatures (which can be difficult in large districts). Most invisible to others, the grant writing process requires time. It requires our time, and nothing is ever guaranteed. 

Within this invisible funding category, there are more invisibles. The list of parents, volunteers, and  community partners who provide in-kind donations of supplies and time are priceless.  Without these, most grant projects do not get funded.  To find these in-kind contributors, it adds more time, outreach and research. Funding sources need to know there is a sustainable community and plan to bring the project to fruition. 

The school community I work with is able to provide the following for students, their families, and teachers through grants written by teachers and volunteers:

  • Field trips the Desert Museum, Tucson Village Farm, UA 
  • Water Harvesting Cistern Installation and Teacher Curriculum Workshop
  • Water Harvesting Student Curriculum and Student Created Book
  • Seeds for school garden spaces
  • Creation of an orchard on campus
  • Garden curriculum and resources for teachers
  • Worm composting curriculum and set-up
  • Composting supplies
  • Teacher trainings

 Imagine what education would look like without this invisible and the time put into it. 


Molly Reed

Molly Reed

Tucson, Arizona

My classroom teaching experience has been in Tucson’s urban public schools with grades first through fifth. Beginning my eleventh year of teaching, I am the Outdoor Learning Coordinator at a Project Based Learning primary school. I am a National Board Certified Teacher (ECGen) with a BA in Elementary Education and MA in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona.

My introduction to teaching occurred during a National Outdoor Leadership School semester which led me to work as an outdoor educator traveling throughout the United States and South America. I am interested in connecting with other educators and those interested in the changes in schools with education policy.

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