It seems lately that school taxes, budget cuts, and balancing the two are what everyone's talking about.
There's just not enough money to go around, and no matter how you slice it someone is on the losing end. We'll need to find creative ways to help close the gaps, especially for those "non-essential" type activities. So when Best Buy's local Community Specialist Yazmin Malpica reached out to me about Best Buy's Children's Foundation community grants, I was glad to share the news.
Best Buy Community Grants are geared toward giving teens opportunities through technology. This year, the foundation will award $2.8 million to nonprofits and tax exempt public agencies, in grants averaging between $4,000 and $6,000 each, with a maximum of $10,000. Afterschool programs with a target age group between 13 and 18 are now eligible to apply also. Last year, our own East Stroudsburg based Youth Infusion was awarded a grant to further the great work they are doing through the Cavalier Justice Academy and Youth Infusion School Based Service Learning Initiative. If you're not familiar with this program dedicated to developing socially responsible, civic-minded teens, check them out at www.youthinfusion.org. The application window runs from June 1 to July 1, so time is of the essence. Eligibility requirements include:
The Best Buy Children's Foundation focuses on "programs and curricula that encourage teens to learn, experiment, collaborate and play with the latest technologies so that teens will become excited about learning and fluent with new technologies, developing skills and experiences to help them succeed in their careers, contribute to their communities and lead outstanding lives."
You can visit Best Buy's
website to complete a grant eligibility quiz and apply. You can call Yazmin Malpica directly at 484-832-2391 or the Stroudsburg Best Buy at 570-476-1421 for details. High school students (9th through 12th grade) should keep an eye out for the Best Buy scholarship program too at www.at15.com.
Best Buy is not the only corporation supporting the community.
Target is another example of a company that gives back: to the tune of 5 percent of its income to be specific. Target's focus is on art, field trips and early childhood reading programs, and Target offers grants to local K-12 schools and nonprofit organizations. This is an ideal opportunity to supplement programs that may be losing funding.
Each local store awards three Target Field Trip Grants annually, up to $700 each. That's one school out of 25 nationwide, not bad odds. Grants give students the opportunity to visit museums, theaters and aquariums. The application period for Field Trip Grants runs from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.
Target's Early Childhood Reading Grants are $2,000 each, and the grant period runs from March 1 to April 30. The program is open to schools, libraries and nonprofits providing programs such as book clubs and reading events. The Arts, Culture, and Design grants, also $2,000 each with the same March 1 to April 30 submission period, support music, art, dance, drama and visual arts activities in schools. Target also sponsors free or reduced admission cultural events open to all students and their families. Somewhat locally, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia holds Target Community Nights on the third Wednesday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m., with free admission and monthly themes. You can find more information on all three grants and community nights at www.target.com/grants. Another easy way to donate to your school through Target: If you hold a REDcard you may designate a school to receive 1 percent of your purchases at Target.
Lowe's is another supporter of schools through its Toolbox for Education program. Its focus naturally is on things such as facility enhancement and landscaping with an educational theme, and encourages projects with community spirit. Public schools and 501(c)3 parent organizations are eligible to apply for grants between $2,000 and $5,000. Some of their past winning projects include a pavilion, sustainable gardening and composting. Find project ideas and apply for a grant on their site at www.toolboxforeducation.com. The grant application period opens in mid-July and runs through Oct. 12.
Not to be overlooked, participating in the Box Tops for Education is an easy way to raise money for your school. By a quick look on the Box Tops site you can see that locally some schools earned $1,000 and others even $2,000 or more last year. The program has expanded beyond traditional box tops; you can also earn points for your school by shopping online through the site, and even by clicking through surveys and watching videos. Contact your local PTO or sign up online at www.boxtops4education.com. You don't have to be the parent of a young student. Erin Baehr is a certified financial planner and owner of Baehr Family Financial, a fee-only financial planning firm in Stroudsburg (www.YourMoneyEveryday.com). Baehr can be reached at Facebook.com/YourMoneyEveryday.