Funding

Take an online tutorial on finding funders, figure out how to find new funding sources close to home, see tips on writing proposals, and read funding publications that will guide you through the process.

Afterschool Funding Database

First things first: Have you visited the Afterschool Funding Database? Funding for programs can come from a wide variety of sources – federal, state, and local governments, foundations large and small, and other donor groups. Tracking down those funding streams and determining eligibility takes a lot of time and resources, which we know are in short supply.

The improved Funding Database allows you to search for funding by state, grade level, and program area, as well as filter by funding type (private or government). Application deadlines, eligibility requirements, and a brief description of the opportunities are available at-a-glance, and one click will get you to the details of the funding announcement.

Afterschool Funding Tools

Take our online tutorial to help you identify new potential funding sources, make the connections you need and plan for long-term sustainability.

View general, Federal and State funding publications.

Major Sources of Afterschool Funding:

View the Funding Opportunities for Comprehensive OST (afterschool and summer) Programs spreadsheet to find other funding opportunities.

Afterschool Funding Worksheet

Check out the afterschool funding worksheet to identify afterschool stakeholders in your community and potential new funding sources to support our afterschool program.

The finished worksheet will provide you with a sense of where your program ranks with the various afterschool stakeholders and who among your inner circle of supporters may be connected to potential funding sources.

Using the results, create action plans to further your relationship with selected stakeholders. Begin with the top 3-5 targeted stakeholders and funding sources and then move onto a longer-term strategy that continues to add more stakeholders to your outreach and sustainability plans.

A next step example: If you have ranked the Mayor as "1. Know who this person is but have not contacted," your next action step may be to contact the Mayor's Office to arrange a meeting with staff and plan for a future site visit. For assistance on contacting elected officials and engaging community leaders, visit Building Relationships with Policy Makers.

It is also important to develop a schedule that includes time to work on the sustainability plan each week. Also, set up a time for your sustainability committee to meet again. Each program will be different, but you might consider holding a conference call to update the team after three months and schedule another in-person meeting in six months to update the worksheet and identify even more stakeholders.

Afterschool awards
Recognizing excellence in the afterschool field

Afterschool programs nationwide work tirelessly to advance literacy, STEM learning, and other critical subject areas. The Afterschool Alliance and our generous funders are committed to recognizing these efforts—learn more about our award opportunities and get inspired by past winners.

Check it out

Partnerships and sponsorships

Building partnerships and collaborating with a variety of community organizations can yield funding, logistical support, and more for your afterschool program. The information below will help you create a shared vision among potential partners and supporters

Partnerships and In-Kind Donations: Encouraging the support and involvement of community allies can generate meaningful program content, in-kind donations and even funding. 

Foundations/Trusts/Private Partnerships: Many foundations and philanthropic organizations provide grants to afterschool programs.

Creating a Vision for Afterschool Partnerships: Creating and sharing a common vision is critical for the success of afterschool programs. This tool is intended to help the growing number of new afterschool partnerships create a shared vision for their work.

GSA/Army Partner for Child Care: As a part of the Soldier/GSA Child Care Subsidy Initiative, the U.S. Army and GSA have agreed to partner to make child care more affordable to Active Duty Army Personnel. Visit this site for more information on how this initiative can be helpful in your community.

Charting The Landscape, Mapping New Paths: Museums, Libraries, and K-12 Learning: In 2004, the Institute of Museum and Library Services convened a conference and workshop examining the intersections of museums, libraries, and K-12 education. The resulting report captures the key issues that emerged at the workshop, highlights seminal project and partnership examples, and provides common language around a vision for how museum/school/library collaborations can contribute to a learning society.

Every Hour Counts Measurement Framework for Systems Building: This national coalition of citywide entities working towards building access and quality to out of school time opportunities has put together a measurement framework looking at systems, program and individual student measures. EHC followed up their measurement framework with a 2019 report on using data found here.

Wallace Foundation 2018: Governance Structures for City Afterschool Systems: Three Models

Expert advice

Afterschool Alliance Funding Forums

View past forums and online chats with funding experts to answer your questions. Forums also feature guest columns and interviews with your peers and outside specialists.

  • Attracting Business Sponsors for Lights On Afterschool and beyond
    From the Introduction: This funding chat builds off the previous chat with Thomas Buckley of AT&T (see Funding Forum 3) and responds to questions about attracting business sponsors for Lights On and beyond. Lights On Afterschool is October 12th and, in past years, a number of afterschool programs reported success in recruiting business sponsors of their program using Lights On Afterschool as the initial hook. Includes responses to the most frequently asked questions regarding recruiting business sponsors for Lights On Afterschool.
  • Engaging Business in Afterschool Programs
    From the Introduction: The Afterschool Alliance spoke with Thomas Buckley, External Affairs Manager at AT&T Connecticut. Tom is responsible for community, legislative and municipal relations for the northwest part of Connecticut. He has been involved with Connecticut schools since 1987 and is a member of the Connecticut After School Advisory Board.
  • Funding Snacks for Afterschool Programs
    From the Introduction: This month, we focus on snacks for afterschool programs. Providing food is an ongoing program cost that can really add up, but there are solutions. Child nutrition programs reimburse afterschool programs for snacks and, in some cases, meals. There are different options available to programs in low-income and other areas. To learn more about how to do this, we turned to Crystal FitzSimons, Senior Policy Analyst at the Food Research and Action Center.
  • Responses to Funding Questions from the Field
    From the Introduction: Welcome to the first edition of the Afterschool Alliance online Funding Forum. In this online chat, the Afterschool Alliance taps outside experts to respond to your questions on funding sources and sustainability strategies for afterschool programs. Topics range from funding for arts to the right mix of funding sources to typical program cost.

Case Studies

Maximizing connections to build participation and community support

ScienceQuest, Columbia, SC

In this case, sustainability wasn't about funding, but about interest.

The Challenge: Build Student Interest and Community Support to Ensure Sustainability

The Process

The key to this program's ability to gain and maintain popularity and support lies within the program director's policy of openness and her willingness to use the participants' enthusiasm. The ScienceQuest curriculum is driven by student interests, making the students natural spokespeople. Students are encouraged to share their excitement about the program with their peers in a variety of ways. They have ScienceQuest T-shirts to wear on ScienceQuest days. Students demonstrate their experiments not only for their science classes during the school day, but also for the local middle school's television show, The Principal's Corner. Parents receive a newsletter and are always invited to watch experiments, giving them the uncommon opportunity to observe their children in a learning environment. The program director invites teachers at the school to observe the program in order to gain their support, and asks the teachers to recommend participants. Furthermore, the program activities are public, so kids hanging around after school can watch the experiments being conducted by ScienceQuest participants, and get recruited to join the program.

In order to attract adult volunteers, Fast Forward developed a partnership with the University of South Carolina (USC). This partnership grew from a USC science professor's experience as a coach during the program's first year. The professor recruited more volunteers from the university and secured a way for the college students to earn credit for their time.

Finally, the program director actively seeks media coverage and makes regular presentations to the school board, guaranteeing that the wider community is aware of ScienceQuest and its positive effects on young people.

The Outcome

By enlisting the support of participants, teachers, parents and the community, Fast Forward has created support systems that will help ScienceQuest withstand a variety of changes, from program staff to the economy. However, the program's real ace in the hole is a deep connection with the surrounding community and schools. Within just two years, the program grew to more than 30 kids, with a waiting list to participate and a steady pool of volunteers. Former participants want to attend again, siblings and classmates want to join, and higher income parents are asking if they can pay for their children to attend.

Applying Fast Forward's Success to Your Program

Partnering with a larger, established institution - such as a university - can open the door to a variety of resources, including a large, steady group of volunteers; access to facilities; grant writing assistance; and enthusiastic spokespeople who can talk up the program to peers and increase community support.

To connect with a university or college, you can start by contacting the institution's community relations or public information office. They should be able to point you to resources in the institution that can help you find volunteers and other supports. It may take several calls before you find the right connection. To find other sources of volunteers in your community, contact a local Volunteer Bureau or Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Your United Way office may help find those community resources.

To find insights into using the media to promote your program, see our Media Tools.

About ScienceQuest and Fast Forward

The vision of the Fast Forward Community Technology Center in Columbia, South Carolina, is to build a learning and caring community through the creative use of technology. It seeks to provide technology education and access to those who have been underserved through traditional programs. Youth are chosen based on their need for the program either academically or socially, and on recommendations from teachers.

In 2002 Fast Forward CTC launched ScienceQuest, a curriculum for teaching hands-on, investigative science to middle schoolers in afterschool settings. Using a tool called the I-search, they collectively formulated questions, conducted experiments and published their activities on a Web site.

Sources: Snow, Kate, "Sustainability: ScienceQuest in Columbia, SC," Community Technology Review Winter 2004-2005 issue, http://www.comtechreview.org/winter-2004-2005/

ScienceQuest - School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment | University of South Carolina

http://www.geol.sc.edu/cbnelson/ScienceWeb/

Accessing child care dollars for afterschool

The After School Enrichment Program, McKinley Elementary School, San Francisco, CA

When the program first opened, all of the families of its 20 participants were able to pay a monthly tuition, but program directors realized that many low-income children at the school were being left out. They set out on a mission to find a way to serve these children.

The Challenge: How Can We Serve Low-Income Children in Our Community?

ASEP learned that if the program became a state-licensed child-care center, they could access federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) dollars, an important long-term source of funding for many afterschool programs.

The Process

ASEP contacted the Community Care Licensing Department, a part of the Department of Social Services in California, to determine how to become a licensed child care provider. They learned that all programs funded by CCDF providers must meet and keep staff/child ratios, health, and safety requirements set by the state. In addition, some states require certification or registration of providers. After inspections by the Department of Community Care Licensing, they were granted the license. The approval process took 6 months. Once the license was secured, funding from CCDF was tapped to subsidize low-income students who met income eligibility requirements.

A key step for ASEP was receiving free legal assistance to file the necessary paperwork to become a licensed child care facility. A lawyer friend of the program director recommended contacting the Bay Area Bar Association, which referred them to a lawyer willing to provide pro bono services.

The Outcome

ASEP is now a licensed, nonprofit child-care center for school-age children. Based in a school, ASEP serves 120 of the 230 school students. Most importantly, ASEP is free to 85 percent of the children attending the program, with partial scholarships awarded to the remaining 15 percent.

Applying ASEP's Success at Your Program

  1. Determine if there are additional low-income children your program could be serving.
  2. Find out what the requirements are for your program to be licensed by the state as a child care facility. Contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (R & R). Resource and referral agencies are your local experts on child care and provide parents with many services, including referrals to local child care providers. These local agencies also help build the supply of child care. The R & R's provide an entry point to the child care field, helping providers meet licensing requirements. Resource and referral agencies also support providers by offering low-cost or free training in diverse topics such as health and safety, child development, and sound business practices. Agencies work with local and state governments and the private sector to leverage resources for building and maintaining the supply of quality child care. To find the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in your community, visit http://www.childcareaware.org.
  3. Call your local Bar Association or Legal Aid Society to determine if your program can receive pro bono legal assistance to help file your paperwork. Use your local phone book to find free legal services in your community. Look under "legal services" in the "community services" section for listings of legal service programs in your area. Some law schools also offer pro bono or reduced cost services to non-profits.

About this funding source:

The CCDF (also called the Child Care and Development Block Grant - CCDBG) is one of the largest funders of afterschool care for school-age children of low-income families. It provides $4.8 billion in funding to help more than 700,000 school-age children with assistance for before- and after-school care, as well as summer programs. The state-level Quality Set-Aside feature of CCDBG offers funds ($18 million in fiscal year 2004) for practitioner training, technical assistance and grants for start-up or expansion. Learn more via our funding database.

Additional details on using child care funds to support your afterschool program can be found in the Finance Project's Using CCDF to Finance Out-of-School Time and Community School Initiatives.

About ASEP:

The After School Enrichment Program's mission is to provide a safe, nurturing and enriching environment for school-age children in the hours afterschool. The program offers daily homework help and small-group tutoring, as well as instruction in the natural sciences, reading, writing, arts, drama, cooking, and physical education. ASEP also arranges one educational field trip each week.

As both a licensed childcare center and a program that is run in partnership with the district, ASEP is able to obtain funding from a variety of sources: the city, the school district, childcare subsidies, tuition payments, Team Up for Youth, foundations and individual giving. ASEP also accesses in-kind support and free or low-cost labor. The program has four youth workers from the Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Project, three Americorps workers from the Bay Area Youth Agency Consortium, two classrooms from the district and monthly science classes from the Academy of Sciences.

Funding during a crisis

Federal funding for COVID relief provides significant opportunities for afterschool and summer programs. On this page, we'll discuss strategies to work with your funders and nagivate fiscal crises. If you're seeking relief funding sources and grants, visit the Funding Database and select "Recovery/COVID" under Program Areas.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides billions of dollars to local school districts and state education agencies to support students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being, including providing students with comprehensive afterschool and summer programs. Learn more about these funds and how they are flowing into your state. Check out examples of states using COVID relief funds to partner with afterschool and summer learning programs, and then use our toolkit to reach out to your school districts and local education leaders.

In addition, a number of bills passed before ARP provide potential funding sources. Learn more about these sources and how programs have tapped them in our Policy & Regulations section.

Request Flexibility from Existing Funders

Many foundations have signed onto pledges to loosen restrictions on existing grants, make new grants as unrestricted as possible, reduce reporting requirements, and otherwise work to support COVID-19 response efforts in local communities. The Council of Foundations maintains a growing list of funders that have signed this pledge: https://www.cof.org/news/call-action-philanthropys-commitment-during-covid-19. If you haven't already, reach out to your funders to see if there are ways they can better support your organization. Some questions to consider asking:

  • Is it possible to convert program funds to unrestricted funds to allow for general operations?
  • How can I use existing funds to continue to pay my staff?
  • Can we transition funds to help pay for infrastructure to facilitate virtual learning?
  • Can we postpone deliverable or reporting requirements during this time?

Fiscal Management/Crisis Tools

During times of crisis, the fiscal outlook of an organization can change abruptly. 

To assist organizations in planning for their financial sustainability, the Overdeck Family Foundation, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and Grafe Consulting, produced a financial planning tool to assist nonprofit leaders with scenario planning during these uncertain times. The workbook, an Excel template, allows afterschool organizations to forecast revenue, expenses, and cash, and to create multiple scenarios to evaluate financial sustainability in a fast-changing environment. Here's a brief guide on how to use the template.

The Wallace Foundation has partnered with Fiscal Management Associates, a national capacity-building firm that advises nonprofits on strategic financial management, to help nonprofits assess their fiscal situation and make adjustments.

Stories from the Field

The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County in Wisconsin, in partnership with the United Way and community leaders, raised more than $100,000 via an online donation drive in less than 10 hours to support families affected by COVID-19 in their community. Donations will go toward medical supplies, meals for children who would otherwise get them at school, to local shelters, college students in need of temporary housing and meals, and to senior citizens who may need meals, transportation and medical assistance.

In a video from the beginning of the pandemic, Horton's Kids leadership team discuss the financial challenges they are facing during COVID-19 closures and how they are pivoting to bring in new public and private funding and using new flexible guidelines to continue to serve their community impactfully.