We are nearly finished with our mini-renovation! Phew. It's been a long road-- it started 5 years ago when a newer colleague came to me and said she really saw my library and wanted to help turn it into a 21st Century space. This led to afterschool meetings with a few other teachers on campus to come up with an outline of what we wanted to accomplish.
First, we simply brainstormed. We just put a bunch of dreams on paper. First, new computers (both Mac and PC) to level the playing field for our kids who are affected by the digital divide by creating tutorials and help them earn their own devices, next we would expand our hours (necessitating additional staffing), free wifi for students to access within a 3-mile radius, and new modern soft seating. We priced it out and figured that $75,000 would help us get there.
Next, I set to work gathering the info needed to write the grant application. I wrote our first draft, shared it with the team. My colleague, Natasha, had several contacts that could help us get this grant request in front of some decision makers of a foundation. After numerous attempts and a re-write, the grant request was approved for 50% with the provision that we find matching funds.
That led to call a with a District administrator, I merely wanted to inquire as to whether we could get the District to match the grant. I figured that there was nothing to lose-- the answer would be no if I didn't ask. To my surprise, the answer was yes.
The District's "Yes" meant great changes to our vision and plan. Whereas Natasha and I were focused on bridging the divide, the administration had other ideas. Instead of the wifi, all new computers, and additional hours and staffing, we would receive a few cross-platform devices, numerous TV screens, a Google Jamboard (which is an awesome device), soft seating, and new tables and chairs. Additionally, we would remove our large circulation desk, and more than a few sections of shelving (along with the books housed there).
So, to make a long story short, we compromised (not really an option not to) and will have to write another grant to get the rest of what we envisioned. But, this next time we will enroll the administration in our vision (it will help that we won't likely experience a change in administration in the very near future). Second, I will better communicate my intentions and plans before I put all the work into it. Plus, I have a plan in case a grant is not immediately successful; it will be a lot of work. But, it will be worth it to see kids with the tools they need to further their skills and provide more career and college options.