There seems to be a great deal of interest in after school program grants, so here’s a sampling of some of the questions teachers may have.
Where do I find after school program grants?
Answer: many resources are available through a web search “after school program grants”.
This subject deserves its own article (I’ll write one soon), but to get you started, begin your search with the (free) School Funding Center Grants Database. Try a free trial, you can search by state and area of interest. The database is updated often with fresh information. If you choose to subscribe (highly recommended) you’ll find varied levels of search capabilities so you can choose just what you need to be able to select high quality grant opportunities. My favorite way to subscribe is to let your Principal know you’re on this quest and subscribe at the district level so you’ll have carte blanche access.
If I’ve never done this before, how do I know the amount I can apply for?
Answer: You don’t, yet.
If the after school program you are funding has been operating for a few years, see if you can analyze past expenditures and then add the supplies and services you need to make it grow. You’ll generally be applying for grants on an annual basis.
Are all grants renewable?
Great question, short answer: No
Longer answer; maybe. When you find a solid lead on a foundation or company that may be interested in supporting your program, you’ll want to start developing a lasting relationship with that source. Check out the company’s grants website to see the programs they have supported in the past. On that site, you’ll find a directory of helpful support personnel. I like to start with a phone call or email (phone is best, captive audience), to a grant specialist. At the very least, they can refer you to a person in the organization who handles school grants. You want to find out if they ever support multi-year programs. Most of the time, they will answer “no” but you’ve planted a seed. Now it’s up to you to dazzle them with the efficacy of your program and its suitability for renewal, so they’ll reconsider in June.
Can one grant cover all our needs?
Answer: probably not, unless it’s a simple short-term program for one summer.
But don’t despair, your school or district budget should cover some of your expenses. This shows a foundation that your district leadership team supports your project. You can start creating a spreadsheet with a column for “district support”, then additional columns for all the funding sources you secure, break it down by budget lines (rows). You’ll be surprised to see that many grants are really just “matching grants”, and this is the ideal arrangement. We have a nice budget-planning template so you can sketch out your budget plans.
When will I know if I got the grant?
Answer: it varies by funding source.
On the foundation (or corporation’s) website, they will provide all the details you need for planning time, turnaround, and management of the funds. The last is critically important; you want them to know you have an ironclad policy in place for handling checks and other financial support. Work with your district Business Manager to know how the policy works. The Foundation will also provide you with a guide that you must read very carefully. It tells you right down to the font how they want the application to look. Don’t deviate from their rules, ever. Many grants are offered through online forms, it simplifies the process, but some foundations still want to see a printed application. Be meticulous in this application package, it really matters.
Remember every after school program starts with a great plan that aligns with data driven needs for improvement of academic achievement. Plan carefully, and stick to the plan and you’ll be on the right track.
A few resources for your review:
The Wallace Foundation
Federal Funding for After School
Let me know how you’re doing with your after school projects, we’d love to feature them in our site.
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.
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