Foundation Funding Alternatives for ‘Sanctuary Schools’

In my 20 years as an educator, I found there is a fine line between being brave and acting foolish. Many places around the United States are claiming to be “Sanctuary Cities,” which means they support immigrant-friendly practices (not a legal definition). Meanwhile, the federal government through an Enhancing Public Safety Executive Order threatens to hold back federal funds from these Sanctuary Cities, including school districts such as Los Angeles Unified, who last year received $585 million in federal funds. Can you imagine losing over a half billion dollars to provide a free and appropriate public education to all young people in a large school district?

The past few months remind me of a 1976 science fiction movie called Logan’s Run where people live in a so-called perfect society. At the age of 30, society members are executed in a public, carnival type event; however, a few runners escape to sanctuary. Logan is a government agent who is ordered to hunt these runners and destroy their Sanctuary. But Logan had moral courage, and kept the whereabouts of the Sanctuary a secret from the government. Be brave like Logan, and hunt for alternative grants in your Sanctuary City before your federal funds are held hostage.

To help navigate you through the art of being brave, consider these alternative grants in case your school district’s federal funds are being held hostage.

After School Programs

The current presidential administration has proposed cutting $1.2 billion from after school programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. Afterschool programs motivate children to stay in school, provide tutoring/homework help, keep students off the streets and encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) career areas among other evidence-based benefits. Some major, alternative corporate and foundation grant resources funding afterschool activities are:

You can request grant guidelines from the Anschutz Foundation, 1727 Tremont Place, Denver, CO 80202.

Literacy, Math and Other Content Areas

Although there are indications that Title I funds may increase, school districts and teachers always need more funding for curriculum, supplies and other content area program requirements. Some grant resources for content areas are:

Students with Special Needs

Since No Child Left Behind has ended and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is on the chopping block, the current administration is not focused on helping students with disabilities and supporting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Federal IDEA funds may need to be supplemented with other private funds. Some available grants in this area are provided to school districts by:

Nutrition, Health & Wellness

Since ESSA is being dismantled, a focus on healthy eating and wellness for students seems to be falling by the wayside. Many students only receive decent meals at school through healthy breakfast, lunch and summer programs. It is difficult to learn on an empty stomach. Here are some resources to help school districts find funding in this area:

If you want to search more grants Foundation Directory Online is free to access at many public libraries.

About the Author

Judy Riffle, Ed.D, is a former teacher, university mentor, and K-12 central office administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education and educational leadership. She was a school district Director of Federal and State Programs in Arizona, including additional hats as a grant writer/manager, English Language Learner Director, Homeless Student Liaison, technology committee facilitator, fundraiser and teacher professional development coordinator. Dr. Riffle began writing state, federal, corporate and foundation grants in 2008 for a school district, and branched out to independent grant consulting in 2011. Since 2012, she has served on six federal grant review panels. Encompassing over 20 years of experience in the field of education, she also serves on the Grant Professionals Association Grant News Publications Subcommittee, Grant Professionals Foundation Marketing Committee, the GPF Silent Auction Committee, and several nonprofit Governing Boards.