Grants for Adult ESL Programs

by Miranda Morley; Updated September 26, 2017
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According to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, more and more adults seeking ESL classes across the U.S. are being put onto wait lists or placed into larger classes. There is definitely a need for ESL programs in the U.S., but costs for these programs are high, especially because they are usually offered for free or at reduced cost. To help cover these programs' costs, the federal government, nonprofit organizations, companies and professional organizations offer many grant opportunities for ESL programs.

Materials Grants

Purchasing materials for a classroom, whether they are workbooks or textbooks, can be expensive, and grants can help programs eliminate some of the costs associated with materials. While local companies or nonprofit organizations may be willing to sponsor the program by making grants for materials, you can also find these grants from national professional organizations such as Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The organization offers the Tina B. Carver Fund, which awards grants of up to $400 for adult ESL program expenses.

Technology Grants

Technology has changed the way people communicate in the United States, and because adult ESL classes teach students to communicate effectively in the U.S. culture, technology often plays a large role in classroom instruction. Teachers who want to use technology to make their adult ESL program more effective for their students can apply for technology grants. Technology companies are a major source for technology grants. For example, Verizon gave $125,000 to support ESL programs with technology-related concerns in 2010. ESL educators and program administrators can also apply to nonprofit organizations with an interest in technology and organizations that grant materials grants with technology requests.

Operations Grants

In addition to purchasing materials and technology, adult ESL programs have a variety of other expenses, including hiring teachers and administrators, paying for facilities and running special programs. While most grantors are more interested in funding specific projects rather than operating expenses, grants for adult education may help you cover some of these costs. For example, the federal Office for Vocational and Adult Education makes grants of almost $2 billion per year to adult education programs. The office provides a number of different grant opportunities. Sponsorship is also an excellent resource for operating expenses. Local corporations may not be willing to give money, but they may be able to make donations of furniture or Internet access, for example.

Professional Development Grants

To stay abreast of the most successful and newest ideas in adult ESL instruction, teachers need to engage in professional development. The professional development opportunities are many, and range from getting a formal master's degree, or bachelor's degree for instructors who have degrees in other areas, to attending conferences or taking online classes. Adult ESL instructors can find grants to take advantage of professional development from the centers or schools where they teach, the schools where they plan to take classes and nonprofit or professional organizations. For example, TESOL offers grants for joining the organization and attending its professional development events.

About the Author

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.

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