The Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) recently secured a Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For Alaskan educators, that means improved professional development, higher compensation, and a better chance of staying in the classroom. We talked with ACSA Grant Director Sam Jordan to discuss this achievement and the strategies behind securing grants like this one.

Petersburg, AK, one of the communities receiving funding from the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program. Photo credit PBSD.
Petersburg, AK, one of the communities receiving funding from the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program. Photo credit PBSD.

How do you see this grant impacting ACSA and the broader educational landscape in Alaska?

This grant is about creating a systemwide culture that trains, retains, and rewards the hard work of great educators. We’re supercharging our professional development on research-based practices for teachers and raising opportunities for additional compensation. By building enriching environments for educators and upping their take-home pay, we hope to impact the recruitment and retention crisis we are experiencing here in rural Alaska that is worse than the rest of the country. The long-term aim is to establish cultures of consistent, high-quality education across our schools, benefiting both educators and students in the long term.

Could you share some strategies your team used for seeking this grant?

Absolutely. We began our preparation early, knowing that a comprehensive proposal would require thorough groundwork. Our focus was on building relationships and partnerships, even before the grant details were released. This early engagement with national and district partners laid a solid foundation for the content in our proposal. In the world of grants, timing and partnerships are crucial. Our director, Lisa S. Parady, is committed to fostering relationships with stakeholders, and it is a value our full team embraces when it comes to grant partnerships. Our proactive approach was beneficial, especially given the tight deadline—just 35 days—of the grant writing period. In the end, it’s about establishing trust and understanding with partners, which then translates into a stronger, more cohesive grant proposal.

What advice would you give to state associations and school leaders looking to secure grants?

My top advice would be to stay informed of grant possibilities and build a prospective network of partnerships. Subscribe to updates from federal grant agencies, such as the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and At the same time, foster relationships with experienced grant writers who understand your educational context. Lastly, conduct a needs survey with your district to ensure your proposal is aligned with ground-level requirements. This approach makes your proposal not just a concept but a real solution.

Any final thoughts or key takeaways?

The journey to securing a grant is as important as the grant itself. It’s about understanding your needs, building the right team, and creating a proposal that truly reflects the aspirations of your educational community. Each grant is an opportunity to make a significant difference, and with the right approach, it’s achievable.

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