You’ve received your first after school program grant! Now what?
The grantor was very generous and has promised to help you keep going throughout the next school year. Awesome! Yes, celebrate, but your work is not done. Many school grant writers never ask the question of what should I do to keep my grant going past the school year, until it’s too late. The school year goes by, the program is a great success, how can we keep this going?
This is not an article for a once in a lifetime program.
This is for the after school program you want to keep, because it’s aligned so beautifully with your school day curriculum and mission statement (you have a mission statement for your school, right?). How will you secure funding to keep it going past the witching hour?
The answer is to make it part of your school day plan. Each time you write for funding for a program in your school, you need to weave your after school needs into the budget. The success of this strategy depends on the transparency of the weave. You need to be sure grantors understand that your after school program is a key and crucial part of your overall curriculum plan. After awhile, this becomes second nature but now is the time to grasp the importance of this concept.
In your first grant narrative, you have all the information you need to apply for more.
By all means, prepare an update for the current grantor. During the school year you should develop a newsletter or website (or both) for the after school activities you promote. (If you do not have the time to start a website or newsletter, we would love to feature your stories on our blog that you can share to your grantor and community. Let us know it the comments below if this is something you would like to do.). Start a mailing and email list for its dissemination. You are polishing your brand, your school identity, and you want everyone to know what it is and how it’s working for your students. Be sure to include information that explains how it’s aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSSI). If your state is not an adopter of those standards, outline the standards embraced by your state. This underscores the careful planning you’ve done to assure its success in improving academic achievement in your school. If you’re thinking, “well this program isn’t for that purpose, we just want the kids to have fun”, be prepared for it to be a one-time thing. Grantors are universally aware of standards and want to know their investment is going to support students in their community to become useful members of their workforce.
You can use a variety of funding sources to support your program.
Include some language in your Title I application for the program; perhaps you need software for the library. Title I can subsidize this need if you’re careful to apply it to the needs of the children identified as eligible for Title I support. Eventually it becomes second nature. You might think about professional development to bring teachers up to speed on using the new software, include that in your Teacher Quality grant. The federal grants should all work together.
Most towns have a business partnership program of some kind. You can find out who they are through your Chamber of Commerce. In fact, you’ll want to know the members of your town’s chapter. Your local chapter will have meet and greet events throughout the school year, make sure you put on your pearls and pumps (or tie and dress shoes) and attend one or two. Each of these members may have a way to support your programs; they can’t help you if they don’t know who you are and what you’re doing. Use their business directory to add to your email list. Organize a few meet and greets of your own. You want to boost your school’s exposure in the community.
If all of this sounds like wayyyy more than you signed on for, it probably is. It’s summertime, time to regroup and gather strength for the job ahead. You may want to organize a committee to help. I have some built-in issues with committees, but you may have the right personality to maintain one without being swallowed by it. The key to success of a committee is to make every member useful in a way that matches her talents, and be sure recognition for good works is part of the committee culture.
I have some resources to help you get started on the road to sustaining your after school programs.
- School Funding Center (free database)
- After School Alliance
- Statewide After School Networks
- Sustaining Youth Participation
- The Wallace Foundation
- After School Supply Headquarters
- Tips on Starting a Committee
S&S Worldwide can help too.
Let me know how you’re doing with your after school projects, we’d love to feature them on this blog, and if you need help with getting the most out of supplies from your grant. We can help set you up with an experience S&S associate that works with our after school customers.
About the Author: Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.