CLASS: Community Learning Through America’s SchoolS
Please read the Grants Handbook thoroughly before submitting an application. The handbook provides a wealth of information about project ideas as well as details about application requirements:
Please use the individual application coversheets below. You may write directly in these forms and save a copy to submit with your application narrative:
Each CLASS project involves an NEA Student Program local chapter and a pre-K-12 teacher, education support, higher education, or retired NEA local affiliate.
CLASS projects can make a positive difference for children. Today's students are faced with tremendous obstacles to learning and survival. Violence, drug abuse, homelessness, and child abuse, for example, are overtaking communities. There is a direct correlation between what happens in communities and what happens in schools. NEA Student Program members who volunteer in CLASS projects are able to help children overcome many of the challenges they face and provide them an opportunity to lead productive lives.
The project is catching on all over the nation. Since 1989, college students volunteering in CLASS projects have given thousands of children hope and a promise of a better tomorrow.
Any type of project can qualify as long as it addresses a local need and benefits the community. A CLASS project might be a homework hotline, for example. Another might be a mentoring program for pregnant teens. Still another might provide services for the homeless.
NEA members gain a number of benefits from volunteering in CLASS projects. Student Program members become better prepared for their education careers. Practitioners and future educators have an opportunity to work side by side. And the project can enhance the Association's credibility in the community and on campus.
NEA's more than 2.7 million members know that winning community support for schools and universities is an effort that must begin with the Association. Community support is an essential ingredient in any program to achieve excellence. Look upon CLASS as an opportunity to make a difference in children's lives, provide a needed community service, and strengthen the Association.
Getting Started: Five Steps to A Successful Project
Starting a CLASS project need not be a complicated, difficult, or grand-scale endeavor. Students just like you have developed projects and successfully applied for NEA funding.
Whether you're sponsoring a holiday party for disadvantaged children or operating a daily tutoring service, you are reaching out and making a positive difference in your community. Your local affiliate can establish a terrific, rewarding project if you and your members are willing to put in the time and effort, then follow the project through.
Here are five steps you can take to make your CLASS project a success:
1. Build interest.
One person can't make a CLASS project succeed. Start your efforts by discussing your interest in CLASS with your Local Association's leaders. Place CLASS on the meeting agenda of your Local Association's executive committee. Once you have a local commitment to CLASS, organize a committee of people interested in rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.
2. Do your homework.
At your first committee meeting, discuss possible timelines and objectives of CLASS. Go over the suggested topics for CLASS projects included here and discuss how they and others may relate to your community.
As a student chapter, think about projects that will give your members experiences they don't get in their formal teacher education programs. Ask yourselves which projects can meet an educational need in your community and also provide high, positive visibility for your Local Association. Be sure to involve your chapter advisor in all discussions.
Find out what other NEA affiliates are doing in your area. Pre-K-12 teachers, education support professionals (ESP), and retired members will be especially valuable to your group. They have experience and knowledge—and they know people in the community. In fact, they probably have worked with similar projects through their own schools or associations.
The UniServ office can help your chapter make contact with other members.
Identify local social-service agencies and community groups, contact them, and find out what they do. They may already be doing things that your local would want to be a part of —and in that case, much of the hard work is already taken care of.
3. Make decisions.
Sift through the information you collect and make a decision about the type of CLASS project you'd like to start.
Be realistic and make sure you choose a task you can handle.
Decide who will be responsible for the various aspects of the project.
Decide on some timelines for development and implementation.
4. Plan and organize.
Volunteers are key to a successful project. You may need to designate students for the following positions:
Project coordinator. This person will try to put all of the pieces together and produce a community-
oriented, student-based CLASS project.
Organizer. This volunteer is in charge of gathering, training, and retaining other volunteers for the project. This is a big job!
5. Follow-up and evaluate.
Send "thank you" notes to your volunteers.
Include copies of any newspaper coverage the project received for them to include in their files and portfolios.
Thank all community contributors and media contacts.
Complete evaluations and assess the overall project outcomes. Make notes on possible improvements if you plan to repeat the project.
When is the application deadline?
Applications for first-semester projects are due August 31 and ones for second-semester projects are due November 30.
When will we receive a reply from NEA about our submitted application?
You can expect a reply within six weeks.
What if we have a project and don't need funding from NEA?
If you are planning or already have a community service project that is funded, you can register it as a CLASS project and receive national recognition. Just complete the application and enter a "zero" in the category "What amount are you requesting from the NEA-SP?" You will be listed in our publication of CLASS projects and recognized for your efforts to reach out to your community and overcome some of America's greatest challenges.
What if there's no student chapter where I am?
Contact your State Association office or the national Student Program office at (202) 822-7130 if you are a student and don't have an NEA Student Program chapter on your campus. Request the Handbook for Local Leaders.
Who do I contact if I have questions about starting a CLASS project?
Contact Kimberly Anderson, Organizational Specialist, NEA Student Program.