Toolkit: Funding for STEM Programs in New England
Festo Pneumatics and Hydraulics Training Systems at Blackstone Valley Tech High School
Festo Pneumatics and Hydraulics Training Systems at Blackstone Valley Tech High School
Training instructors at Quabbin Regional High School on their EMCO CM55
Training instructors at Quabbin Regional High School on their EMCO CM55
Stratasys J55 3D Printer at Eli Whitney Technical High School
Stratasys J55 3D Printer at Eli Whitney Technical High School

5 Ways to Fund Your CTE and Tech Ed Programs

For CTE and Tech Ed labs, there are always new technologies and skills for students to learn to be prepared for employment in high-demand careers. For example, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies by manufacturing and life sciences companies in New England has been increasing over the past five years, which means educators need to train their students with new skills related to automation, mechatronics, and robotics to be ready for growing industry needs. Keeping CTE and Tech Ed labs up-to-date requires continual investments and, in many cases, creativity in how to fund equipment, professional development, and lab renovations. 

We've put together five ways AET Labs customers have funded solutions for their STEM labs, along with some tools to help you move forward with obtaining funds for your lab.  

Tip #1: Apply for Grants and Federal Funding

Grants are the most common and fruitful way to fund various solutions for STEM labs. While the Perkins grant is well-known to be a valuable source of funding for professional development and equipment for CTE programs, there are also other grant and federal funding opportunities specific to CTE and Tech Ed programs in New England.  

ARP-ESSER funds are available for obligation through September 30, 2024 and can be applied towards professional development, technology and equipment, and construction renovations. 

Many technical schools in Massachusetts have benefited from new equipment funded by the Skills Capital Grant Program and the Mass Life Sciences STEM Equipment and Professional Development Grant Program

The Innovation Pathways Planning Grant has provided comprehensive high schools in Massachusetts with funds to bring engineering and advanced manufacturing experiences to their Tech Ed programs, covering curriculum, instructor training, and equipment.  

In Rhode Island, The Champlin Foundation supports schools in funding equipment for classroom innovations. 

The Harold Alfond Foundation is a longtime supporter of community colleges in Maine through sizable grants. 

For a more comprehensive list of grant opportunities relevant to CTE and Tech Ed programs in New England, bookmark our grant webpage, which we update throughout the year. 

Receiving a grant relies on a strategic approach. You are convincing organizations why your school needs this money and how you will help the organization's mission. It's critical to think big about your impact and tell a story.  

  • How will the grant help your students in their futures?  
  • What are ways you can expand the reach of the funding to more students?  
  • How will it contribute to the local economy?  

Here are some tools to help you plan your grant application: 

  • Watch a webinar with tips for the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant application. Watch Here

Tip #2: Foster Industry Partnerships 

Strong partnerships with local companies and industry organizations influence funding opportunities for CTE and Tech Ed programs. Engage leaders at local companies by: 

  • Inviting them to be part of your advisory boards 
  • Form internship or co-op agreements 
  • Hold events where local employers, students, and industry partners can connect 

Industry partnerships lead to grant awards, company donations, and sponsorships for equipment, plus press opportunities that will make your school more visible to local constituents and can lead to further opportunities for your school. 

Look through these lists of companies in New England to see which organizations you may be able to partner with:

Tip 3: Ask for Funding

Don't be limited by the budget for your program. If there is equipment, technology, or professional development that will help you and your students, ask for funding! We have seen numerous examples of school and district administration finding ways to fund requests from teachers and directors—this is your chance to get what you want for your program.  

The key here is to be thoughtful and convincing about your request. Put together a narrative for why you need what you're asking for and how it will help your students and the school.  Don’t hold back your request due to budget concerns. If you can show the need, administration can find funds. When you’re requesting new equipment purchases, consider the quality of the equipment and not just the price. Look for equipment that will last ten years, so the investment will be worth it. Also, consider how the equipment can benefit more than one program within your school so more students will have opportunities to use it. 

As you put your request together, engage your advisory board or trusted educational consultants who can provide feedback and give you insight into what other schools are doing and purchasing, which will help build your case. 

We put together a template for preparing your request to administration:

Tip #4: Trade-In Old Equipment

As equipment gets older, you will be unable to get proper service, and it will be time to upgrade your equipment. Look out for end-of-life notifications from the company you purchased the equipment from, and then inquire about trade-in opportunities. For example, you may be able to get newer Stratasys 3D printers or Epilog laser cutter at a 15-20% discount by trading in your outdated equipment.  

Tip #5: Seek Demo or Consignment Equipment 

Equipment used for demos and training is sometimes available for schools to purchase at a discount. Reach out to equipment manufacturers or resellers and ask if they have any used equipment you can buy. 

We don't want to see educators discouraged that they can't afford equipment or professional development that they know will benefit their CTE and Tech Ed labs. If you would like help navigating how to fund solutions for your school, reach out to AET Labs. We can help you find the right funding source and inform you of what has worked for other local schools. Contact us to get started!