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For schools and other civic institutions, the COVID pandemic totally remapped communication network upgrade paths, and rewrote its schedule as well. Many school districts struggled to adapt quickly to remote learning, and even now—more than a year later—some are still wrestling with the twin issues of boosting capabilities and stretching budgets.
When it comes to the financial side, the U.S. Government has pulled out all the stops, approving billions of dollars in COVID relief funding, specifically earmarked as grants to schools as they upgrade their network infrastructure so they can continue teaching and be prepared for the possibility of extended remote learning next fall. In addition, the pending infrastructure bill will have a significant earmark for community broadband development which includes schools as well. These days, cables, Wi-Fi APs and switches are all just as important as PPE and sanitizing equipment when it comes to grant funding.
While the funds are out there, gaining access can be complicated—and there are very few IT administrators who have the time or experience to fill the role of grant writer as well.
Three hallmarks of an effective grant application
CommScope is extending application assistance to our clients in education right now through our RUCKUS Funding Support Program. Our partner, Grants Office LLC, provides the guidance and support your district needs to formulate a winning strategy and deliver an effective application.
These are the key factors:
- Target grant programs based on the alignment of the proposed project with your mission. A compelling case is most easily made when you can clearly connect the goals of the project with your mission as a school or other community organization. A great example of this is the Utah Education and Telehealth Network, which is using CARES Act funds to build and operate a CBRS private LTE network that empowers 1,500 schools to provide secure data connectivity to students without their needing to go inside. Secure remote learning is the mission; private LTE is the project that accomplishes that mission.
- Follow application instructions precisely, and don’t offer extraneous information. The application process is daunting, and the paperwork is extensive. It’s more difficult than many expect to provide a complete application without diverting into over-explanation or including information that isn’t needed, which can actually hurt your application’s chances. Think of the grant application process like filing your taxes: Provide every detail they ask for, and don’t offer anything they don’t.
- Demonstrate shared values and connect your outcomes to those values. Depending on the type of project and the nature of your school or other community organization, you may have to illustrate how you and the granting authority have a shared goal (such as meeting education benchmarks, preserving teacher jobs, and so forth). If you can spell out exactly how your project promotes priorities they care about, it becomes a much easier decision for them.
CommScope can help you start strong
As you can see, grant application writing is a highly-specialized field for a good reason. It takes a lot of time, effort and expertise to do it effectively. That’s why we’re offering our partners in the education sector access to this specialized insight and assistance through the RUCKUS Funding Support Program.
My colleague Erik Heinrich, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships & Alliances/Director Business Development, RUCKUS (and board member for the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition) is an active advocate for connecting federal grant funding to important network improvements among anchor institutions.
He tells me, “There’s a lot of information available out there, but very little in the way of reliable guidance in the grant application process. In the IT field and communications networks generally, they don’t have the resources or expertise to give their applications much chance, so sadly, many don’t even try. Our job here at CommScope is to facilitate that process, connect the customer with the resources to pursue and secure vital funding, and put it to optimal use. And these days, robust connectivity between school and students is more precious than ever.”
Erik is right on the money. CommScope has been the trusted partner of schools, healthcare and other civic institutions for decades, because we bring more than just the best network infrastructure solutions. We also bring big-picture insights and total commitment to customer success.
Helping at every stage is in our DNA—it’s what we do, every day, in every way—but like all great things, these public funding opportunities won’t last forever. Contact CommScope’s RUCKUS Funding Support Program or visit our resource page today to get started.