Kearney Public Schools commits to secure funding year-round

Kearney Public Schools' Grant Writer, Mark Whitacre
Kearney Public Schools' Grant Writer, Mark Whitacre(Kearney Public Schools)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 9:25 AM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - During the summer months, one of the primary focuses for Kearney Public Schools is the pursuit of competitive grants. The Grant Writing department works with stakeholders to create proposals that align with the district’s goals and initiatives. One these proposals are reviewed, the district then becomes eligible for funding.

However, the submission of an application doesn’t guarantee the receipt of the funds. KPS Grant Writer Mark Whitacre writes a number of grants over the summer for the district.

“This summer I will write 30 to 40 grants for Kearney Public Schools,” Whitacre said. “During the school year, the total amount of grants written is between 150 and 200, depending on the intensity of time the grant application requires. We receive about 60% of the grants to which we apply.”

According to Superintendent Jason Mundorf, Whitacre proactively identifies needs within the district and seeks out funding opportunities that align with specific requirements.

“This proactive approach with grant writing ensures that our district can address critical needs and provide enhanced educational experiences to our students,” said Mundorf. “For instance, during this past school year, Mark worked closely with elementary principals to secure funding for STEM carts aimed at promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills. The new STEM carts will be assembled this summer by a small group of teachers and distributed to elementary schools over the summer. This is a $40,000 project that would not have been possible without getting grants.”

Whitacre is involved in opportunities that focus on budgeting, needs analysis and management that are offered by the Grant Professionals Association. He conducts extensive grant searches across areas of interest including improving transition programs, college/career readiness, school security, playground development, literacy programs, STEM initiatives, social-emotional learning, and arts education.

According to Mundorf, the last school year had shown significant numbers.

“During the 2021-2022 school year, the school secured $1.1 million in grant funds, followed by another $1.1 million during the 2022-2023 school year. Currently, the department has $1.8 million in pending grant applications, with decisions expected in June and September/October. Our students and teachers are benefiting greatly from the hard work of our grant writer, Mark Whitacre.”