Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

What does the application process entail?

The application process consists of two stages: the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) and the Full Application. To begin the application process, applicants will first have to create an account using the team contact’s information and then log in using that username and password.

At the LOI stage applicants are asked to:

  • create a project name that includes the team contact’s school site and project title
  • provide a brief description of the proposed project
  • answer a series of eligibility questions

Applicants that submit LOIs will be notified via email whether or not they are approved to move to the full application stage. If an applicant is approved, a link to the application will be available when the applicant logs in to the grant application system.

At the Full Application stage applicants will be asked to:

  • Complete a narrative section which will ask for detailed information about the proposed project, project goals and plans for sharing learnings with colleagues
  • Complete a proposed timeline
  • Submit a proposed two-year budget
  • Provide additional team contact information
  • Provide team member information
  • Provide team contact’s school information
  • Provide principal contact information
  • Provide full information and contact for the organization to which the grant will be awarded. That organization may be a school, district, school foundation, district education foundation or other nonprofit entity. The applicant must inform the organization that it is applying for a grant and check if the organization has any requirements or fees for accepting a grant.
  • Upload a scanned document of letter(s) of support from the principal at each participating school
  • Provide signatures from all team members agreeing to the project as described in the application

What is meant by Team Contact, Contact School and Contact Principal?

Team Contact:  Each applicant team must consist of three to six members (see Eligibility). One of those team members will need to assume the role of Team Contact. The Team Contact is the LIGHT Awards Program main point of contact and is responsible for stewarding the application and the project. The Team Contact coordinates with the grant recipient entity and is responsible for communication with the LIGHT Awards staff.

Contact School: Some applicants will consist of team members all from the same school. In that case, their school is the Contact School. Some applicants will consist of team members from multiple schools. In that case, the Contact School should be the school of the Team Contact.

Contact Principal: Some applicants will consist of team members all from the same school. In that case, their school principal is the Contact Principal. Some applicants will consist of team members from multiple schools. In that case, the Contact Principal should be the principal of the Team Contact. In the case of multiple schools, a letter of support will be required from the principal at each teacher’s school.

What is a grant recipient organization and what do I need to know about mine?

Grant funds are not awarded directly to individuals; they must be received and managed by a nonprofit organization. Your grant recipient organization is the nonprofit organization to which your grant funds will be awarded. The most common LIGHT Awards grant recipients are school districts, schools, school district education foundations, and school foundations, but your LIGHT Awards grant can go through whichever nonprofit organization you identify. If you are not sure through which organization your team can receive a grant, ask your principal for guidance.

Before submitting your application, you will need to contact the grant recipient, inform them that you are submitting a grant application and find out whether the organization charges any fees to manage a grant. You will need to include those fees in your proposed budget. You will also need to include in your application the best contact for grant processing at the recipient organization.

Also, each recipient organization has different processes for accessing awarded funds. If you receive a LIGHT Award, you will need to work with the organization to learn its process for accessing your funds and documenting your expenditures. It’s recommended that you clarify this process even before applying, in order to make sure the proposed grant recipient organization is the best fit for your team.

Please note that many school districts require you to complete an Intent to Apply to submit a grant. If your district is your grant recipient organization, please make sure to check on this.

Which projects are ineligible for funding?

Projects ineligible for funding include one-time events, masters programs, board certifications and travel outside of the U.S. The LIGHT Awards does not award grants to solely purchase technology equipment and classroom supplies. Funds for equipment and classroom supplies can be requested as a component of a project but must be justified based on their integration with the proposed project and must not exceed $5,000 for a $20,000 proposal or $8,000 for a $30,000 proposal.

Can teachers be paid to work on a LIGHT Awards project?

The LIGHT Awards does not compensate teacher time.  It does allow stipends to be included in project budgets, in recognition of the hard work of team members.  Please see Award Details for more details.  

What considerations should I make because of COVID-19?

The LIGHT Awards remains committed to recognizing and awarding outstanding educators, even as the nature of professional learning and in-person education has changed because of COVID-19. When planning your LIGHT Awards project, please consider the requirements of your school and your district when making arrangements. If your district or school does not allow or expect to allow in-person professional learning in the near future, please plan accordingly. Even though circumstances are likely to change over the course of the grant period, the LIGHT Awards suggests having a virtual back-up plan for any in-person activity you propose in your Letter of Intent and/or Application.

Technical Questions

Where is the application?

When open, a link to the grant application system will be found in our top navigation menu. Please see “Important Dates” at the bottom of this page.

To access the application, you will first create an account, and then log in using the username and password you created. In the first application step, you will be asked to provide some general information about your project idea and to answer questions about your team’s eligibility for a LIGHT Award. If you are selected to move to the next stage, you will be notified by email and become able to access the full application when you log in.

Do I need to do the application all in one sitting?

You do not have to complete the application in one sitting.

After you create your account, you can log in and download a list of the questions in .pdf format, so that you and your team can do the necessary research and prepare your answers. The download link is at the top of the application form.

Once you start filling out the application, you can save your partial work and log out at any time. The application is only submitted when you feel it is complete and you click the “submit” button. You can also download a .pdf of the draft application with your completed answers using the “print packet” link at the top of the application.

Note: Although the system automatically saves your work approximately every 20 minutes, we recommend manually saving your work whenever you feel you have completed a significant portion of the application. You can do so by scrolling down to the bottom of the application page and clicking the “save as draft” button.

What if more than one person is working on the application?

Team collaboration may be easily accomplished. The team contact can download and share the application questions (.pdf) with team members, and they can prepare and review each others’ responses offline. When answers are ready, the team contact can enter them into the application.

We encourage the team contact to ensure that only one person at a time is using the team’s account. Though the application system will allow simultaneous logins, simultaneous users can easily overwrite or delete each others’ entries.

How do I know my application was received? Can I check the status?

You should receive a confirmation email from us when we receive your application. You can also log in to your account to see your application status on the main page after you log in.

Are there are hardware/software requirements for completing the application?

You can complete most of the application using almost any device with a web browser. To submit your proposed timeline and budget, you will need Microsoft Excel or another program that can read/write an .xlsx file. You will also need to scan and upload your principal’s signed letter of support (2 Mb max size.)

If you are using an iPad to complete your application, we recommend using the Chrome browser (free download from iTunes) because there are situations in which in the Safari browser malfunctions while accessing the grant application.

How can I contact you if I have questions or problems?

You can use our Contact form to ask questions, or email us at

Important Dates

October 4, 2021 LOI Opens for 2022 Grant Cycle
November 14, 2021 at 5:00 pm LOI Closes for 2022 Grant Cycle
mid-December 2021 Applications Invited from Select LOIs

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