What is the Great Ideas Grant Program?

Great educators make great schools. The Helena Education Foundation supports Helena’s educators by providing grants that bring their great ideas to life. Every school has a budget, but our Great Ideas Grants assist educators in achieving educational goals that go beyond that which is already provided. Great Ideas Grants fund innovative classroom and out-of-classroom projects, providing enriching educational opportunities and experiences to all students.

Participate in a brief after-school workshop to learn about the Great Ideas Grants application process, or review the PowerPoint slides here.

“I will never forget this experience, ever!” – A 4th grader at Bryant School who visited Yellowstone Park through a Great Ideas Grant

The Great Ideas Grant Program is a cornerstone of The Helena Education Foundation’s mission to enrich education in the Helena Public Schools. It is designed to put money directly into the hands of classroom teachers, helping educators take ideas for innovative teaching strategies and make them a reality. Specific goals include:

  • supporting and encouraging teachers to infuse new elements of creativity into their classroom;
  • helping teachers extend student learning beyond the limitations of textbooks;
  • encouraging teachers to strengthen ties between the classroom, other teachers, parents, students and the larger community;
  • providing funds for projects to enhance student learning that would otherwise not be possible within the District budget or with any other funding source.

Is Your Grant Request Under $500?

Check out our Spark Grants.

Who May Apply for a Grant?

  • All full or part-time teachers employed by the Helena School District are eligible to apply
  • Multiple educators may collaborate on projects – applications must be signed by all collaborating educators
  • All applications must be signed by the building administrator
  • Other partnering entities may not submit a grant proposal as the primary applicant.

Applying for a Grant

  • Educators may apply for both a Great Ideas Grant and a Spark Grant in the same grant cycle for different projects, but
  • Educators may not apply for both types in the same cycle for the same project.
  • Educators may apply for only 1 Spark Grant per cycle

What can Great Ideas and Spark Grants fund?

  • NEW projects only – not ongoing activities
  • Projects for which funding is not available from the HSD
  • Projects that are in-class or field trips
  • Projects that infuse new elements of creativity
  • Projects that extend learning beyond the limitations of the textbooks

Grant funds may NOT Be Used for any of the following:

  • Monetary awards for students
  • District- provided textbooks and materials, technology, etc.
  • Workshops or professional development fees
  • Stipends for District employees
  • Substitute teachers during the working day unless teachers are with their class involved with the grant project


We’re happy to help. If you have questions about the process attend one of our scheduled workshops, view the PowerPoint guide. If you are unable to attend a workshop, feel free to contact us at any time.

Call 406-443-2545 or contact us by e-mail at [email protected].

Already Received a Grant?

  • Download the HEF Grant Evaluation Form
  • Receipt/Payment Form
  • Please carefully read the instructions below to learn how to access your funds.
  • Purchasing through Helena School District Procedure: You may access funds through expense reimbursement or by purchasing materials through the Helena School District (HSD). To purchase materials through HSD:
    • Obtain a purchase order number from your school’s office staff and order items as approved on your grant budget
    • Scan (or photograph) all invoices, receipts and purchasing requests and email them to Tammy Harbour ([email protected])
    • Tammy will complete the reimbursement form and submit to HEF for approval along with corresponding documentation.
  • If you use your own funds to make a purchase, you may request reimbursement:
    • Turn the original receipt into your school’s office and scan/email copy of receipt to Tammy Harbour.
    • Tammy will complete the HEF Reimbursement Form and submit to HEF along with corresponding documentation (receipts) for approval.
    • Upon approval, Tammy will notify school’s office that the expenditure is approved and a Direct Pay may be submitted to the Business Office for reimbursement.

Completed forms may be e-mailed.

Thank you to our Great Ideas Grant Sponsors for the 2023-24 School Year!

     HHS CLASS OF 1962     In Memory of HEF Founding Board Member Jim Brown     Amy and Michael Strainer     Bill and Judy Walter

Please contact Becca at [email protected] if you are interested in sponsoring a Great Ideas or Spark Grant.