Sample Needs Statement

Use the first paragraph of the sample needs statement to introduce the organization and the community it serves.

City Public Schools (CPS) is a public school system serving nearly 6,000 children and young adults in kindergarten through twelfth grades, alternative education, preschool, and adult-education programs. The district is composed of portions of the cities of City A and City B and of Township A. CPS includes eight elementary, two middle, one alternative, one alternative charter, and two high school buildings.

The predominant service area is the city of City A, which was built as a suburb of City just after World War II and was composed primarily of “tract” housing modeled after Levittown, New York, developments. Although City A now has more diverse housing options, some industry, and much retail, according to experts on land-use trends, it is becoming increasingly poorer as upwardly mobile families move to more distant suburbs. Whereas in 1970, city residents earned exactly the average regional median income, by 1990, they earned only 87 percent of the regional median income. This decline is indicated in the City Public Schools as the number of children participating in the federal free/reduced lunch program has increased from approximately 10 percent in 1970 to 26 percent in the 1996–97 school year and to more than 29 percent in 1998–99.

Nevertheless, the City community has a history of supporting educational institutions and initiatives. Although many communities of comparable size have only one high school, City voters have continually approved school-support millages and bond issues that enable support of two high schools of 700–900 students, which Carnegie Institute researchers have found to be the most appropriate size for learning. One elementary school has garnered national attention for its experimentation with a longer school year and nearly 100-percent parental involvement. Parent participation at CPS elementary school conferences regularly exceeds 95 percent.

The community has also supported increased technology resources and learning opportunities for its children. In 1992 and 1997, the CPS community passed two bond issues for a combined total of $57 million ($14 and $43 million respectively). These bonds were used to provide computer connectivity (LAN/ WAN network) in and across all CPS educational and support buildings, to purchase computer hardware, and to remodel, repair, and add to existing school buildings. Today, each school building has a twenty-five-station networked computer lab in its media center. One elementary school has an additional three to five computers in each classroom. The two middle schools have a second lab in addition to the one in the media center, and the two high schools have two labs in addition to the computers in their media centers.

Community support has enabled CPS to score “high-tech” on the STaR chart in the areas of connectivity and hardware. Computer-to-student ratios in buildings ranges from twelve-to-one in Elementary 1 to four-to-one in Elementary 2. The eight CPS elementary schools serve nearly 2,600 students (K–5) with approximately 370 computers. The combined ratio of computers to students in the elementary schools is seven-to-one.

To date, the hardware and connectivity have improved only the technological “look” of CPS schools, but they have failed to improve learning as measured on standardized tests. In fact, in all but a very few instances, test scores among CPS elementary students, despite additional tutorial resources and testing strategies, fell dramatically between the 1996–97 and 1997–98 school years.

The following chart indicates the percentage of CPS elementary students scoring satisfactorily on various sections of the 1997–98 State Educational Assessment Program (SEAP) and the percentile change between those scores and 1996–97 school-year scores. As is evident, all building scores declined in math. All but one declined in reading (and in the case of the one building that increased, scores are still less than 60-percent satisfactory). Only three buildings improved writing scores, though all buildings continue to exceed 60-percent satisfactory. Only two buildings improved in science and, in both cases, fewer than half of students scored satisfactorily despite increased annual scores.

To mitigate the effects of rising poverty levels and improve SEAP scores, CPS must put the hardware and LAN/WAN network to use as the learning tools they are meant to be. All CPS school buildings score “low-tech” in the areas of content/software, professional development, and instructional integration and use. CPS's first technology plan (1997) held outcome objectives for students to become computer proficient, but it did not emphasize the use of technology in content areas as tools to enhance learning. Since that plan was written and filed, CPS has had several changes in administration, including a new technology director and a new assistant superintendent.

The assistant superintendent comes from direct experience in the schools, specifically as principal of a model elementary school, and understands the importance of integrating technology resources to improve academic outcomes. Both new administrators are in the process of revising the long-range technology plan and are committed to acquiring software, providing “just-in-time” training for teaching staff, and integrating the use of technology resources into all areas of instruction.

Note how the grant writer weaves in information about land use and makes it relevant to a grant proposing to address a need for technology resources among school children. Additionally, a STaR chart was used by the state to help schools measure the number of computers they had, the age of the computers, the uses of the technology, and the comfort level of teachers with the equipment. The numbers were then compiled into a final measure of low-tech, medium-tech, and high-tech to demonstrate need in the various categories.

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