One way to measure the success of a high school is by tracking the number or percentage of students who graduate. Besides standardized test scores, grade point averages and course credit requirements, some high schools also require students to complete special graduation projects. Grant funding, which never requires repayment, is available both to individual students and school districts to help pay for graduation projects.
Grants for high school graduation projects tend to come from two types of grantors: government agencies and private corporations. Private corporations give general-purpose grants to schools and to students directly. They also offer grants for specific purposes such as graduation or class projects. Government agencies, such as the federal Department of Education and state education departments, also offer grants to teachers, schools and students for various purposes, including graduation projects.
Aside from general grants that a student can use for any purpose, graduation project grants can pay for many types of materials or activities. Students may use graduation grants to pay for civic projects that schools require, using the money to purchase materials for presentations. In other cases, students graduating from high school art programs may use grants to fund art supplies and cover the cost of preparing a portfolio of work for submission to the art faculty and college admissions boards.
The U.S. Department of Education is among the major government grantors for high school graduation projects through grant programs such as the School Dropout Prevention Program. This program, which is available to both state education departments and local schools, funds projects and test preparation to help more students stay in school and meet graduation requirements.
Among corporate grants for graduation projects, AT&T Aspire offers money for schools to target dropout prevention and career development projects, particularly for minority students. AT&T's financial commitment to this nationwide grant program has a cap of over $1 million, as of July 2011.
Schools that require high school students to complete projects before graduation can require students to fund their own projects, or supply funding directly from the school budget. When schools require students to fund their own projects, they can also impose budget limits to help keep costs under control for students who don't receive grants. Schools with special budget needs may be able to ask taxpayers to approve budget increases or lobby state governments for additional funding to help students complete required projects to meet graduation guidelines.