Security is a top priority for school systems.  Nonetheless, it is a reality that funding which provides a safe, secure learning environment often must compete with
Beverly Vigue
Beverly Vigue

traditional financing that pays for books and buildings. Fortunately, federal, state, private foundation and corporate grants are available to pay for security programs — if you know where to find them.

   For K-12 schools, the most popular grant programs are:

•  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

•  Impact Aid

•  Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS)

•  Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFS) Grants

•  Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): Secure Our Schools Grants

•  Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S)

Two types of grants are available to most schools: competitive and formula. For competitive grants, the district with the best application wins. Timelines are very long but often worth the wait. With the formula grant, everybody wins. Perhaps the state allocation is based on the county’s percentage of total state enrollment accompanied by a boilerplate-type of application for the project. If the school completes the application, the district gets its share. If the school does not, the district gets nothing.

Here is an overview of the most common grants:

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – Formula Grant

These grants guarantee special education and related services for students who meet the criteria for eligibility in a number of distinct categories of disability.

Impact Aid – Formula Grant

The Impact Aid grants provide financial assistance to local school districts where enrollments or the availability of revenue are adversely affected by federal

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) – Competitive Grant

REMS grants support local school district efforts to improve and strengthen local emergency management plans. 

Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFS) Grants – Formula Grant

These grants support programs to prevent violence in and around schools to foster a safe and drug-free learning environment for academic achievement.

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure Our School Grants – Competitive Grant

These grants were created to improve security at schools and on school grounds. Funds can be used for locks, metal detectors, lighting and other crime prevention tools.

Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S) – Competitive Grant

FP&S grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards.  


What Schools Can Buy

To determine what types of products can be purchased through the various grants, there is a plan that establishes four levels of security:

•  Level One: Functional and compliant mechanical access control

•  Level Two: Stand-alone electronic access control and key management

•  Level Three: Networked access control, accountability and credential management

•  Level Four: Campus integration

With IDEA grants, a district can purchase equipment in Levels One, Two and Three.  With SD&S, REMS, COPS, FPS and Impact Aid, districts can select any type of security equipment or systems they need. 



Typical Grant Timelines                      

• January:Forecast of Federal grant timeline —COPS

• February:Planning begins for SDFS, IDEA, and Impact Aid.  Projected due date for REMS

• March:Continued planning for SDFS, IDEA, and Impact Aid

• April:Continued planning for SDFS, IDEA, and Impact Aid

• May:Anticipated COPS

• June:Anticipated school district applications due to state departments of education (SDEs)

• July: SEAs receive allocations —SFDS, IDEA, and Impact Aid Programs

• October:Distribution of funds to local school systems —SFDS, IDEA, Impact Aid and anticipated FP&S


Important to Know:

Grants.govis a U.S. government site that includes more than 1,000 grant programs, allowing schools and security industry personnel to search for security grants and apply for them online.