** Please note, important changes and updates are bolded throughout – including specific updates to the Beyond the Box grant.**

Download this information as a PDF.


  • Applicants must be employees of District 87 and/or Unit 5. Both certified and support staff are eligible to receive grant awards.
  • Grants will be awarded without regard to an applicant’s school district, race, age, creed, gender or national origin.
  • In the event the recipient relocates to another position, school, or out-of-district, the grant may be withdrawn. However, if it can be demonstrated that the project will be carried out as envisioned within District 87 and/or Unit 5, the grant may be retained with BTBEF approval.
  • Prior grant recipients are eligible to apply.


One grant in the amount between $7500 and $10,000 will be awarded in this category for an exceptional proposal. The $7500 – $10,000 award is given by a private foundation to Beyond the Books Educational Foundation and BTBEF selects the winner.

BEYOND THE BOX — One grant between $7,500-$10,000
STANDARD — Limited to requests for $401 to $5000.
MINI — Limited to $400 or less

About Beyond the Box — One grant will be given for an exceptional proposal. The $7500 – $10,000 award is given by a private foundation to Beyond the Books Educational Foundation and BTBEF selects the winner.

You may submit applications with the same proposal in both the Standard and Beyond the Box categories. If you choose to do so, you must use the same title for both applications and within the Beyond the Box application, clearly explain how the extra money would be used. Only one of the two applications may receive an award.


  • Applications MUST be submitted via SM Apply. Alternate submissions (via USPS, email, etc) will NOT be accepted. Log in or register here to apply:
  • SM Apply will open for submissions at 8:00 AM on Monday, November 23rd, 2020, and will close at 5:00 PM on Monday, March 1st, 2021.
  • To get started on your application before logging onto SM Apply, please use the “Grant Application Planning Guide”.
  • Be aware there are different word limits for each required response. These are noted in both the application and the planning guide.
  • Applicants must provide the email address of their principal on the application so that the principal will have access to read and approve the application.
  • When the application is complete, the applicant will click the ‘mark as complete’ button. This will forward the application to the principal.
  • Once the principal approves the application, it will automatically be submitted to BTBEF.
  • The deadline for principal approval/submission is Monday, March 1, at 5:00 PM. Be sure to ‘mark as complete’ early enough for your principal to be able to meet this deadline.
  • SM Apply does NOT accept edits or uploads to applications once they are forwarded to the principal for approval.
  • Once the application has been automatically submitted, the applicant will receive a confirmation email.


  • All applications (Beyond the Box, Standard, and Mini) will be scored using the rubrics.
  • Proposals will be evaluated on:
    • Innovation and creativity
    • Clarity of goals and objectives
    • Impact on student achievement
    • Collaboration with others
    • Effectiveness of teaching strategies
    • Sustainability or justification for a one-time event
    • Evaluation of outcomes
    • Realistic and complete budget that aligns with program goals
  • BTBEF is committed to a blind review. Applications that include any name(s) of district(s), school(s), staff member(s) or other identifying information (such as mascot, school colors, etc.) will be ‘returned without review’. Careful proofreading will help avoid an application being ‘returned without review’. Applications are not reviewed until the deadline has closed so there is no opportunity to rewrite the proposal and remove any identifying information that violates the blind review policy.


  • The Budget must provide an itemized list, including cost per item, in whole dollars.
  • The Budget must strongly align with proposal goals.
  • Salaries of district employees and substitute staff are not funded; outside personnel (such as honorariums) may be considered.
  • Professional development will not be funded. For example, registration fees for workshops and/or conferences, travel, lodging, food, and like expenses of district employees will not be funded.
  • Food should not be a major element of the grant. Include food only if it is essential to the success of the project and explain why.
  • Technology that is requested should be used in innovative ways, and/or have significant impact on student achievement. Technology should be a tool to support, or an integral part of, a well-defined project.
  • Funding for consumable supplies/materials or one-time experiences must be justified.


  • The grant must be used solely for the purpose described in the application.
  • Foundation approval must be obtained before any changes may be made in the scope of the project, or in the recipient.
  • Grant winners are to request funds from the business office of their district and the district will administer the disbursement of grant dollars. The Foundation will forward all awarded funds to each district after June 1, 2021.
  • Funds must be used during the summer of 2021 or the 2021-2022 school year; otherwise, funds may be forfeited.
  • The Beyond the Box Grant recipient must, by September 15, 2022, submit a complete report of the grant work and outcomes to BTBEF as provided in the award information. This report will be forwarded to the private foundation that sponsors the award.
  • Recipients of a Standard Grant or Mini Grant will be asked to complete a survey at the end of the 2021-2022 year in order to provide BTBEF with details of the project and process.
  • BTBEF appreciates public acknowledgment of the benefits to student learning that is provided through the financial support of the Foundation.
  • Printed materials resulting from work carried out under the grant should specifically acknowledge support of the Foundation.


Read these Helpful Hints before you get started on your grant application!


Use this helpful Grant Application Planning Guide as you prepare your grant application.


All applications (Beyond the Box, Standard, and Mini) will be scored using the rubrics found below, or on the pages for each grant level.

Rubric for Beyond the Box Grant


Rubric for Standard Grant


Rubric for Mini Grant

Check out the 2021-2022 grant winners.