It is a question I hear often from people who reach out to me. They know the value of having an author come in and present to their students. They love the idea of having writing workshops led by a professional writer. They know the students will be motivated and inspired by the experience. But, as it often does, the question comes back to: How am I going to pay for it? No one likes to talk money, so I am gong to do it for you, and share a few ways you can bring an author (or artist, singer, puppeteer, etc.) into your school.
There are five primary ways schools fund my visits. A lot depends on your district and individual situation, but if you've thought you'll never have the cash to bring in an author to enrich your students learning experience, consider these approaches that schools use every year to bring my program to their students:
PTA: The Parent Teacher groups are a vital component of any school. In my children's schools, the PTA bring so much to the students. From holding dances, special events, and end-of-school celebrations to, yes, funding author visits, the PTA works tirelessly to give your children the best experiences possible. Every year I have many PTA's fund my visits. They do this primarily through their fundraising monies. Because schools often book an author visit a full year (or more) in advance, the PTA has it on their calendar, and earmarks a fundraising initiative to support the visit. Here is what one PTA President had to say about my visit which they funded:
"We have had rave reviews from the staff, parents and children as to how much they enjoyed having you at our school! Matt you were a pleasure to work with, so informative, genuine and fantastic."
—Krissie Bonin, PTO President, Ellicott Elementary
School/library budget: Not only do some districts have money in the budget for events like this, I've had many educators tell me they didn't know until they checked. Whether it is funding available directly to the librarian, or more general "arts funding," your school may have funding available to pay for (or partially pay for) an author visit. Do some digging around and you might be surprised what you find.
Independent fundraisers: I recently visited a school in the City of Buffalo where a teacher took the initiative to hold fundraisers on her own because she wanted the students to experience an author visit. I spent two days visiting with students from Pre-k through grade 8, and we had an incredible time. None of it would have been possible if a single teacher hadn't taken the initiative and worked hard to make it happen. We were also able to give away 50 signed books to students who took part in a writing contest during the visit!
Grants/outside funding: If you spend 15 minutes on Google, you'll be amazed at how much free money is out there to fund creative initiatives in public schools. There are foundations, private companies, and public non-profits all willing to fund artistic programs in schools. One such example in my home state of New York is a program called Arts in Education. It is offered through BOCES, and they have funded several of my visits in recent years. These organizations see the value of bringing in people from the community to share "real-world experiences with students. Many state have similar programs, and a little digging on the web can net you the funds you need to bring the arts to your school.
School Board: I saved this one for last, because it is the least common method of funding I've seen, but it does happen. I've seen schools that have wanted to bring in an author-in-residence for a larger portion of the school year. This can be more than just a two-day workshop, but rather a year-long program. I know of multiple districts where the school submitted a proposal for funding in the budget to the school board and received funds. This is a more complex program, and one I am happy to share more details with as schools are interested, but if you are looking for a year-long intensive, multi-media program, this is an exciting option.
In the end, securing funding for an author visit is all about being creative. As an author, I know how hard districts work to get the funding, and I make sure our time together is worth every penny. I promise your students will be energized, engaged, and excited to talk about reading and writing. My visits are part education, part inspiration, and I make sure every student in the room has an experience they won't soon forget!
To learn more about my programs, or if you have specific questions about funding a visit, go to my website, www.mattchandlerwriting.com or call: 716-390-9203.