It’s that time of year again! As parents count down the days to the new school year, teachers are busy shopping for everything students will need in the classroom, such as school supplies, new books — and maybe even a hermit crab or hamster.
Class pets can stimulate learning, teach responsibility and even support students’ emotional and mental growth. And now, teachers can apply for a grant through a program called Pets in the Classroom that helps cover the costs of purchasing and caring for a small animal for the classroom. In other words, teachers who receive the grant will essentially get a classroom pet for free.
What Is Pets In The Classroom?
In 2011, The Pet Care Trust created the Pets in the Classroom grant program to provide financial support to teachers who want to care for small animals as teaching tools but need funding to make it possible.
Teachers of pre-K through ninth-grade classes can apply for grants to help them either pay for or maintain the care of a pet. The grants allow students to interact with small animals in their daily lives.
Grant applications are now open for the 2022-2023 school year!
The budgerigar is sitting on the girl’s hand
Benefits Of A Classroom Pet
Having a cute and cuddly, slithery and slimy or other type of animal classmate might persuade kids to be more excited about getting up for school. But more than that, hands-on interaction with small animals has several advantages.
A class pet can teach responsibility, improve social skills, introduce new approaches to learning and build self-esteem. Students can develop empathy, mental and emotional development and nurturing skills.
Pets In The Classroom Grant Details And Requirements
Pets in the Classroom offers three types of grants:
- Store grants, which you can use at one of the participating retailers,
- Rebate grants, which reimburse a teacher for up to $75 for small animals such as a hamster, guinea pig or parakeet (the small animal rebate grant is not applicable for reimbursing the purchase of rabbits, however, due to the RHDV2 virus), or $125 for fish, reptiles or amphibians, and
- Sustaining grants of $50 for maintenance of current classroom pets.
There are two requirements you must meet to qualify for a grant:
- You are a teacher of any grade from pre-K through ninth grade at a public or private school in the United States or Canada.
- You have not previously applied for a Pets in the Classroom grant (though if you have received a grant from Pets in the Classroom in the past, you can still apply for a sustaining grant, which provides $50 a year for the maintenance of a current pet or new animal).
Note that day care centers and homeschools do not qualify for the program at this time.
If you meet the requirements and are applying for a first-time grant, the next step is to select the type of animal you want to introduce to your classroom. The program provides several resources that can help you decide. Then, you will choose either a store partner in your area or a rebate grant and submit your application. You may only submit one application per school year.
Keep in mind that there will probably still be some out-of-pocket costs, even if you are approved.
Applications will be accepted for the 2022-2023 school year through June 1, 2023. To find out more or to apply, visit PetsintheClassroom.org.