Obtaining funding for new initiatives, even one as important as RULER, can be daunting. The good news is that education funders (private foundations, community foundations, public charities, and individuals) report being increasingly committed to investing in SEL approaches and programming. The challenge is knowing where to look and how to apply for those funds. To help, we’ve put together some recommendations on various funding sources and how to secure their support.

Start Local 

Most opportunities for funding are local. For local funders, an initiative that supports positive school climate and promotes child wellbeing, like RULER, may be an attractive proposition. 

When exploring local opportunities, we recommend the following:    

  • Search online for preK-12 education funders in your state or region¬†
  • Look for local or regional funder councils
  • Explore community foundations. These sometimes house separate funds, which may have guidelines expansive enough to include SEL.¬†
  • Consider local businesses. They may have general giving programs or might be willing to give specifically to school and youth programs¬†

Once you have your list, review any online information including members of the organization, the issues they focus on, and any reports. After you have a list of names and contact information, reach out and start a conversation about RULER and your school. 

Private & Public Charities 

The best place to start looking into private external sources and public charities is with subscription databases like Candid. Nearby universities or other affiliated organizations can help you gain access if accessing these databases is cost prohibitive. 

When searching databases: 

  • Use different subject and geographic search filters to narrow down the list of possible grantmakers
  • Review their history of grants (pulled from their tax filings)¬†
  • Check out their websites for more recent information
  • Find out who their board members and program officers are
  • Identify similar or nearby education organizations and run a search for grants supporting them
  • Look for school- or district-affiliated education foundations that can channel support


Crowdfunding is an innovative way to secure the funding needed to bring RULER to your school. DonorsChoose is a great option for teachers to secure funding needed to get started with RULER. To learn more about DonorsChoose click here and to start a funding campaign click here.

National Funding Opportunities 

National funding opportunities are not as prevalent as local one, but there are options. Notably, the NoVo Foundation has been issuing annual RFPs for a number of years for teachers/classrooms ($5,000) and schools/districts (up to $25,000) to support the acquisition of, and innovation in SEL training (https://novofoundation.org/advancing-social-and-emotional-learning/). 

Government Funding Opportunities

Most public K-12 education dollars come from state and local governments. Ultimately, most of this money covers basic expenses associated with meeting standards and requirements (e.g., for professional development, technology, transportation, and the provision of services for students in need). Unfortunately, there may be no explicit category into which RULER or SEL funding neatly fits. 

Yet federal government block grants, state funding, and the occasional competitive RFPs supporting mental health partnerships or public health initiatives or anti-bullying initiatives may offer enough latitude to include RULER (see: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/tips-resources-funding-sel-program-olga-acosta-price for suggestions). Visit the Department of Education grants database to learn more and to keep abreast of opportunities, eligibility requirements, and deadlines. Note, for competitive RFPs in particular, you may need to include in your proposal a description of program evaluation and evidence of strong partnerships with education research organizations. 

Reach Out to RULER

For more information please email James Hagen or call 203-432-6802. We want to help!