IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Pilot Program to Boost STEM Grants for Cash-Strapped Schools

Delivery Associates, an international consulting firm, launched the Community Funding Accelerator pilot program to match K-12 districts with federal grants and guide them through the application process.

An application form that says "grant application" at the top lying on top of other forms on a table with a red pen on it.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated inequalities in education, the federal government has been trying to meet the problem with new funding and grant programs — some of which have gone unnoticed or unused. Noting a reservoir of untapped federal funds, a multinational public-sector consulting firm is piloting a program to connect underserved U.S. school districts with federal grant money for STEM and vocational programs.

According to a news release today, the new Community Funding Accelerator (CFA) program from the U.K.-based Delivery Associates includes an online tool to find competitive federal grants and assess whether an applicant is eligible for them. If and when funding opportunities are identified, Delivery Associates provides additional help in the application process. Besides school districts, applicants may also include coalitions of local governments, public-sector agencies and employers that would benefit from school programs funded by future grants.

To date, CFA has worked with nine coalitions of schools and partner agencies applying for up to $10 million that would support 1.9 million U.S. students. Delivery Associates projects that its CFA program will help 25 organizations apply for $178 million by the end of the program's first year.

The pilot program was launched in March, and the first application submitted — for $1.49 million to fund nursing career exploration and apprenticeships for high school students in rural Missouri — was just approved Friday, said Amy Zhou, Delivery Associates associate director.

“They received the full amount that was applied for,” she said.

Other applications include a computer-programming certification initiative for African American students in Florida, a machine learning boot camp to benefit low-income students in New Mexico, and summer STEM camps for female students of color in Colorado, Zhou said.

Zhou said cash-strapped school districts in inner-city and rural communities are often unaware of federal funding opportunities, and otherwise would not have the time, staffing or know-how to commit to lengthy grant-writing processes.

“A lot of organizations we’ve worked with have never applied for a grant before,” she said.

Zhou said CFA provides webinars for every grant an applicant inquires about, so school district decision-makers and representatives from partnering entities should know within 45 minutes if they meet eligibility requirements for that funding opportunity. The more grants they can apply for, the better their chances of getting money.

CFA is not meant to replace traditional grant-writing professionals who work with schools or other entities. Rather, Zhou said, it’s a “value-added” service that promotes partnerships and collaborations in underserved communities that traditionally would lose out on federal grant money to wealthier applicants.

“This makes them more competitive,” she said, adding that CFA’s main goal is to achieve equitable distribution of federal funding.

According to its website, Delivery Associates’ work includes distributing emergency cash to needy families in Pakistan, creating a small business loan program in Togo, improving COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery in U.S. cities, and helping regional governments in Australia fight poverty in the communities they serve.
Aaron Gifford has several years of professional writing experience, primarily with daily newspapers and specialty publications in upstate New York. He attended the University at Buffalo and is based in Cazenovia, NY.