If you’re like most people, you want the schools in your community to do the best job possible of preparing students for modern life and the careers they’ll pursue post-education.
Education experts (and most voters) now agree that part of that mix must include tech education – now understood as playing a critical role in shaping the workforce of the future.
So everyone wants tech ed for all learners, and that’s great.
Unfortunately, that leaves one slight problem: How do we pay for it?
THE BIG MY$TERY
Many financially strapped schools would love to be able to feature thriving tech-ed departments, but there’s simply no money in the budget to make it happen. It’s quite a conundrum.
And that’s where you come in. Because whether you’re a student, a parent or a teacher, that’s your school…and you can make a substantial difference to its overall effectiveness, through your support of tech education.
Here are a few fundraising ideas that are worth considering – and which can be adapted to any school of any size:
Ideas for Parents who Want to Help
- Spread the Word Before you can really attack this problem, you need to raise awareness that a problem exists – namely, a gap in the education that the school can provide.
Take to blog sites and post messages about the situation. Do your part to make it part of the public conversation. Use traditional methods, too: Write letters to the editor, etc.And talk to other parents you know about this. Do they feel as you do?
Parents with political connections should use them, to see if the debate can be brought to an increasingly wider audience.
If you’re a techie and you’ve never seen a Maker Faire in action, you just haven’t lived…
- Plan a Homemade Mini Maker Faire Maker Faires are huge now and great places for communities to come together and celebrate all things tech.
Maker Faires are part tradeshow, part carnivals…and heavily steeped in all things tech. They’re fantastic places to see how people take tech and infuse it with their own creativity, like in the wicked cool yet highly personal robotics that are always on display at Maker Faires.Not to mention the advanced robotics typically being presented at the show!
Why not consider throwing a mini Maker Faire at your kid’s school? With a little showmanship, you can really turn it into an electronic circus and sell tickets like you would for any other fundraising carnival.
And if you publicize the event effectively – especially through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram – you might be able to make a neighborhood event get local media coverage, which will boost attendence.
Ideas for Students who Want to Help
- Start Building! Remember that cool mini Maker Faire we just mentioned? Well, guess who’s going to build it and run its various exhibits, contests and attractions? That’s right…you are!
You and your fellow students need to show that you want tech education at your school by volunteering to take part in a tech fundraising event, like the type we’ve described.The cause of tech education will matter more to grown-ups if it matters more to kids. And it will matter more to you if you’ve had a hand in making it all possible.
Also consider talking to your parents about tech education and what it could mean for your future.
One of our favorite events: the Bay Area Maker Faire, which drew more than 140,000 visitors last year. This year’s show is scheduled for May 20-22 at the San Mateo Event Center.
- Don’t Wait to Organize Even schools that lack dedicated budgets for tech education are often still very inclined to support this STEM cause as best they can.
If you try to organize a tech-builders club at your school, there’s a good chance that the school can help you get the ball rolling.Sometimes strong interest in tech clubs will impress local school boards and prompt them to agree to unlock hidden areas of support funding.
Ideas for Educators who Want to Help
- Keep a Constant Search for Funding Opportunities Every middle or high school should maintain a standing committee of educators and tech educators who are tasked with constantly monitoring all available media channels in order to discover potential tech-funding opportunities.
These opportunities might include scholarship programs, corporate endowments and other potential funding sources for schools.
The same committee should have a team of professionals who are on call to respond to sudden funding opportunities and can quickly create effective applications for those programs.
- Look for Allies Everywhere In addition to making your case to local school administrations, also consider stepping outside of usual channels to find useful allies.
Civic groups that may not be able to offer tremendous financial support can often “match-make” your cause with other groups they may know and interact with. You never know where you may find support.
If necessary, try taking your cause to the local media and seeing what public awareness it can raise.
We’ve only mentioned one type of event idea so far, and we think the mini Maker Faire could be a pretty cool one. But there are so many others:
- Consider holding a synchronized holiday light and sound show, like we’ve seen during recent holiday seasons. With insanely sophisticated LED lighting and booming audio systems and surround speaker systems, you could turn your school into a flashing, blaring holiday tech theme park. (Don’t forget to sell tickets and make sure you contact the local media.)
Imagine your school putting on some of kind of light/sound show like this!
- Or try this on: A school-wide electronic scavenger hunt featuring a grand (tech) prize and tickets to enter the contest. Put your school’s best young tech minds on designing the perfect tech contest that’s likely to raise the most money for the school tech department. (Hint: Get a really cool grand prize.)
The possibilities are endless. Go wild!
SUPPORT TECH ED: ATTEND DMA
There’s another way to support tech education, and that’s through supplemental forms of tech education – like the kind kids and teens get at Digital Media Academy each summer.
We offer a limited number of amazing scholarship possibilities for qualified families, through the DMA Financial Aid program. Check it out!
Summer 2016 is coming fast, bringing with it DMA’s biggest and best summer yet. Come discover tech with us!