AFT Innovation Fund: What Kids and Communities Need

The AFT Innovation Fund is pleased to announce that we have expanded and updated this school year’s mini-grants in alignment with the AFT’s What Kids and Communities Need campaign. These grants are about getting “back to the basics” by directly investing in the kinds of classroom initiatives, educator supports and school-based enrichment programs that help kids and communities succeed in the long term. We invite local and state K-12, PSRP and higher education members, with support from their affiliate president, to submit applications that focus on educator retention, career and technical education, community schools initiatives and literacy proposals.

Grant awards will range from $20,000 to $50,000 (with consideration given to affiliate size).

Below, we offer some guidance on the ways we can support these priorities:

Proposals can include projects focused on:

Educator Retention: Many educators are leaving the profession long before they had planned because the conditions under which they work do not contribute to their success. These vacancies lead to shortages, and the unresolved conditions in our schools further stress our education systems. They make it harder for those who remain to serve students and their communities and imperil the future of public education. The good news is we know what to do; there are many ideas for strengthening the teaching professions and the conditions in schools that support them, and teachers have already sounded off on where to start in a recent AFT publication: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? This includes many specific actions under broad categories such as:

  1. Restructuring schools to create positive working and learning conditions for all,
  2. Giving educators the time, tools, trust and training to succeed, and
  3. Providing sustainable and commensurate compensation and benefits and strengthening collective bargaining processes and agreements.

Career and Technical Education (CTE): CTE means many things, but more than anything else, it represents a direct investment in student futures. Career exploration and planning, hands-on experiential learning in technology-rich settings, and learning to work in teams on complex long-term projects are all outcomes of strong CTE programs. Enthusiasm for revamped, modernized CTE continues for students interested in fields such as information technology, engineering, digital media, healthcare, food preparation, entrepreneurship, public service and even manufacturing. And there is mounting evidence that rigorous career and technical education can be a valuable gateway to postsecondary credentials and experience that leads directly to good careers. There is much work to be done and educators should have a voice in advocating for and creating things like:

  1. Creating new and expanded links to high schools and local community colleges;
  2. Ensuring strong engagement of employees;
  3. Emphasizing credentials and credits that can increase student momentum to either community college or employment in a good job; and
  4. Committing to equitable access and progress in CTE for students from traditionally underserved populations.

Community Schools:

  • Creating school-based enrichment programs;
  • Developing strategies for students with special needs; and
  • Creating a safe and welcoming environment for students and educators.


  • Developing strategies and programs to boost literacy instruction and professional development

Applications are due no later than Sunday, November 13, 2022 by 11:59 p.m. EDT. Click here to access the application.


  • 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.
  • 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 who approved the submitted application. This entity must be the fiscal agent.


  • If your application is selected for a grant, the union affiliate must submit a W9, as they will be the fiscal agent of the grant.


  • We encourage applicants to include partners in their efforts (e.g. not-for-profits, health-care providers and related organizations, institutes of higher education, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, wellness organizations, etc.)
  • Applications should include ways your project can be disseminated and shared so that others can learn from your work. Any products produced by this grant may be branded and shared widely with AFT members and the general public.

Grant Schedule

Grant Period

Accepting Applications

Application Deadline


January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023

October 2, 2022

November 13, 2022

Week of December 12, 2022