AFT Innovation Fund

Bright Idea

Since 2009, the American Federation of Teachers' Innovation Fund has made more than 100 investments across the country to local union affiliates, with the purpose of identifying, nurturing and promoting union-led innovations in public education to improve teaching and learning and invest in the communities in which our members live and work. 

 Real Solutions for Education Technology Grants

The AFT Innovation Fund is pleased to announce a new round of grantmaking for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. In this year of bursting artificial intelligence, we thought we should focus our grants on creating real solutions for how we use education technology. This past summer, the AFT Innovation Fund conducted a survey of educators about what they think of education technology and how they use it.

The application of ed tech in your classrooms and schools is at a record level. And while educators largely embrace technology, many feel shut out of conversations and processes related to technology adoption and acquisition. In our survey, 84 percent of respondents told us they believe teachers should have more say over how technology is deployed in their classrooms. Teachers report relatively low levels of personal use and adoption of AI technologies in their classrooms and among their students (more in high school). As these technologies take hold and transform teaching and learning, teachers should be part of the decision-making process.

We need to create these models, and what better way than to rely on the collective wisdom of our members? That is why we invite local and state preK-12, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, and higher education members, with support from their affiliate president, to submit applications. They should focus on addressing the opportunities and challenges related to education technology in schools, including procurement, adoption and spread, as well as policies governing use and effective practices for teaching and learning.

Grant awards will range from $10,000 to $25,000 (with consideration given to affiliate size when determining the amount).

Here is some guidance on the ways AFT locals can find real solutions to education technology opportunities and challenges. These examples are meant as idea generators or a starting point. They do not represent the universe of ideas or what may be relevant in your locals. And while we are interested in these solutions because they are rooted in the data we collected, they are not the only ideas we will consider.

  • Educators working through labor-management partnerships should have a voice and influence decisions regarding technology procurement, adoption and spread, as well as policies governing use and effective practices in teaching and learning.
  • Convenings or working groups of teachers who are eager to try out AI and give them the space and support to experiment. Iterate, experiment and share as AI tools continue to evolve.
  • Ways to study, make recommendations, and establish or change policies around AI use and adoption in schools for educators and students, including guardrails to ensure safe and appropriate use, as well as equitable access to new tools.
  • New partnerships with parents and community-based groups to identify the challenges social media create for teaching, learning and youth development; and begin to propose real solutions for limiting the negative effects of social media use among young people.

Applications are due before midnight EDT on Sunday, April 21. Apply here.


  • Notifications will be sent by email in June.


  • The AFT Innovation Fund is working with a limited budget; therefore, not all applications will receive a grant award.
  • Grant monies cannot be used to fund positions or staffing. However, they can be used for stipends.
  • These grants are not intended to supplement or expand device use in schools. We anticipate some costs related to technology use in the grant, but the category should not represent the bulk of the grant request. For example, requests for classroom sets of technology like tablets or laptops are discouraged.
  • To support more affiliates, awarded grants may not match the requested amount. If this is the case, AFT staff will work with the awardee to revise the budget to fit the grant amount.

Fiscal Agent:

  • For the applications that are selected to receive grants, funds will be distributed to the local (or state) union affiliate that approved the submitted application. This entity must be the fiscal agent.


  • If your application is selected for a grant, the union affiliate must submit an IRS W-9 form, because it will be the fiscal agent of the grant.


  • We encourage applicants to include partners in their efforts (e.g., nonprofit organizations, institutes of higher education, local parent-based groups, faith-based organizations, other community-based organizations, etc.)

Applications are due before midnight EDT on Sunday, April 21. Apply here.



The 14 funded projects—which include grants for teachers in Leon and Pinellas counties—aim to recruit and retain educators, bolster career and technical education to prepare students for the future, and aid community schools’ work to build bridges between the needs of communities and the needs of students in schools.

Read the press release

In the 2022-23 grant cycle, these grants will focus on Educator Retention initiatives and Career Technical Education initiatives.

Learn More
Teacher and student

Innovation Fund

Rapid Response Grants: Cycle 1