Grants, Funds and Fellowships for Teachers – How and Where?
The idea of allowing the exchange between international students and teachers worldwide started to be democratized in the 60’s with the Erasmus initiative in 1969 by the scientist and educator Sofia Corradi, also called “Mamma Erasmus”. Erasmus is one of the most famous leading programs which financed and allowed more than 9 million people to study, to teach and to experience foreign education systems since its creation. The Erasmus model has many advantages, for instance offering support for job shadowing and courses, such as LIFE2022.
As you can read in this post, Finnish education system has been showing excellent results for 20 years and gathered a worldwide common interest in its functioning. This growing interest in Finland’s educational system is leading many students, but also education professionals, to experience and understand this unique education system. But where to find these alternative sources of funding as a Teacher? And how to be eligible for grants? In this article, my goal is to provide you with general facts and examples of alternative options which can guarantee short and long-term commitment grants and funding materials for certified education professionals who would love to visit the Finnish education system.
Alternative grants options for Teachers willing to visit Finland’s Education System.
Most of the grants are made to fund a specific project and require some level of compliance and reporting. Education professionals usually seek for grants when they want to expand their overall knowledge and instruction. If you are a Teacher, your educational project can either be a short-term 1 to 2 weeks trip to attend specific conferences for quick professional development, or it can also be a long-term 6 to 9 months trip for an intensive professional development program. Moreover, visiting schools of an already famous and reputed educational system such as Finnish one and especially teacher-shadowing projects count as viable projects supported by grants. Obviously, your educational projects will vary according to your needs and goals as an individual Teacher and need to be explained and submitted to the organization you’re applying to for the grant.
When it comes to Finland, the governmental grants allowed by the Finnish government to researchers or education professionals are usually paid and administrated by the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution Mela and by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) but they are usually only allowed for long-term academical and research projects. However, there is an even wider range of other sources available for any funding educational initiatives thanks to foundations, organizations or even charities. Below, you will find a list of a few worldwide sources of funding which accept grants applications from any nationalities, and which support educational trips to Finnish schools at all levels of education, from visiting kindergartens or universities, to attending a conference or a study tour. Each funding service has its own requirements and specifications which I will shortly summarize below:
– Fund For Teachers. Perhaps the largest provider of educator-enrichment funding, this organization supports the educators worldwide to develop their projects and skills since 2001. Fund For Teachers gathered more than $32 million in nearly 8500 teachers, transforming monetary grants into personal growth and practices development for both educators and students, which makes this organization very reliable and even recommended by Edutopia. An excellent implementation on their website is the database which allows anyone to see what educational trip Fund For Teachers organized in the past, and the possibility to see all the details (date, location, summary, images, etc.) with a dedicated report page for it. You can see an example by clicking here of a Pre-K-5th Grade American teacher who went to Finland to observe and analyze Finnish educational practices at the University of Helsinki. Furthermore, this organization seems to be reactive on their social medias, so do not hesitate to contact them if you have any specific questions about their grant’s programs.
– Aurora Database. This database allows you to search for Finnish funding opportunities in sciences, education or arts, either for project funding or personal grants. There are a list of ~400 organizations and new funding opportunities that are updated each week. For this service, any kind of announces can be posted, concerning either students or education professionals. This service is maintained by the University of Turku (link) and most of the funding for Aurora comes from the SRNK, the Ministry of Education and Culture, Universities Finland UNIFI, The Rector´s Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences Arene and the Association of Finnish Foundations. Aurora database services are now fully available in English and Finnish and soon in Swedish as well.
– FullBright Finland Foundation. In this example, it does only concern you if you are an American education professional, but Fullbright is an international organization which gives funds opportunities for many other countries. This Foundation’s purpose is to promote a wider exchange of knowledge and talents through educational contacts between Finland and the United States. Their services and programs have a quite wide range going from the grant itself to training sessions before and after arrival to Finland, but also access to seminars, events and networking opportunities, for duration from 2 weeks to 12 months. I chose to focus here on one case only, which is a short-term commitment of ~2 weeks program which concerns K-12 school and district administrators from the U.S. This program offers a 10-day immersive and international experience to gain the best understanding of their roles as leaders in creating international students. It includes seminars, events, briefings and school visits where all the costs related to travel, lodging and cultural activities are covered by the Fullbright Leaders for Global Schools program. You will find all the date details and selection criteria on this page.
– The NEA Foundation. This foundation was created in 1969 and is offering ever since funding and other resources to public school educators and to the schools themselves. The NEA Foundation receives contributions from corporations, foundations, and individuals, including educators and contributed up to $2,2 million for grant funding. The NEA Foundation is a reliable provider of grants thanks to its ranking in the top 2 percent of all rated charities since 2010. Their grant program is available on this page and is available only for members of the National Education Association who are educators in public schools or public institutions of higher education. Click here (https://ims.nea.org/JoinNea/) to apply as a member of the NEA Foundation. After applying for a grant and explaining your project to the administration, it is possible to get monetary support which can be used for travel, room, meals, registration fees, materials, etc. for individuals. At this date (10th April 2020), the second deadline for applications is 31st August 2020.
There are common characteristics which are shared between charities and foundations that can provide grants/funds for your educational trip project. This funding source should always be able to finance overseas educational trips or projects: many organizations support educational projects in their own country to develop local areas so make sure that their grants programs include at least one support for overseas trips. Also, the supporting organization usually asks for a report and follow up of your trip when it got financed, unless you are already a trusted member of the organization (such as the NEA Foundation). When you are looking for specific foundations and charities to your country, which only accept applications from this country’s residents, governmental webpages usually provide you with a list of national organizations which can help you to find a reliable source which can help funding your project. As an example, if you are looking for Australian-based funding sources, the Grants governmental page provides you with a list of local associations, charities, organizations, etc.
Examples of local funding/grants providing organizations in a few English-speaking country which could support an educational trip project to Finland:
- Australia: Churchill Trust, Fullbright Australia, Marten Bequest
- New Zealand: NZEALS, Fullbright New Zealand , Auckland’s Primary Principal’s Association
- Hong Kong: Government’s SIE Fund, The D.H. Chen Foundation, the Jockey Club Charities Trust, Quality Education Fund
- Canada: CSSHE, Max Bell Foundation
- USA: Rotary, Samuel Huntington, Benjamin A. Gilman Fellowship, Fullbright
This blog also offers great recourses for Travel Grants and Fellowships for Educators.
Finally, all we can wish you is that your educational project gets accepted and funded by an organization willing to help you. Finnish education system is worth visiting especially as a Teacher, to expand your overall knowledge and educational methods: there will be always an excellent reason to visit Finland!