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New funding opp: Discretionary grants up to $20,000

By Marco Ornelas

Looking for a way to inspire the youth in your afterschool program? Want to start a project but don’t have the necessary funds to start?

The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation offers grants of different amounts for projects big and small! Through a fairly simple application process, you can receive anywhere between $1,000 and $20,000 to start projects like bike share programs, art enrichment activities, or STEM exposure projects. The possibilities are endless!

Grant Name: The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation

Description: $1,000 to $20,000



Funding opportunity: Up to $1,000 for environmental service-learning

By Charlotte Steinecke

The future of the planet belongs to our kids, and afterschool programs offer one of the best opportunities for students and youth to engage in environmental stewardship projects that connect classroom experiences of environmental science with the real world. If your afterschool program has a focus on environmental service-learning and neighborhood improvement, you can help build those connections with the Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! grants.

Grant recipients will receive up to $1,000 to use for recycling programs, water and energy conservation initiatives, school gardens and outdoor classrooms, natural habitat restoration, and much more. Find inspiration for your project in the GreenWorks! guide, where you can read about successful action plans and find the best strategies to build a great proposal.

The deadline to apply is September 30 and funding will be distributed in December 2017.



An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

By Maria Leyva

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs.

As fundraisers, we know that projecting the best information about our organizations is a key way to win new supporters and keep existing ones. The right messaging strategy can bolster support from donors and funders, and establish and increase your organization’s credibility. A close partnership with your organization’s communications team can make that happen.

Here’s a few ways collaboration with communications professionals can bring keep your fundraising strategy sharp or bring it to the next level.

Consistency is key

When writing a grant application, an annual letter of appeal to donors, or an email to a prospective new donor, it’s crucial to produce fundraising messaging that is consistent and aligned with the overall language and messaging of your organization. Delivering clear, consistent, and accurate messaging builds interest and trust in your organization while keeping current donors connected and loyal to your mission.

Because effective fundraising materials aim to inform prospective or current donors about the work of your organization, make an effort to coordinate with your communications, media, or quality control team to review your content. These staff are skilled in message framing, proofing, and polishing, and can review the accuracy of the information you’re presenting. Additionally, they can ensure your fundraising materials use the organization’s color palette, images, and logo. Details like visual branding and effective copy are foundational to conveying the best possible impression of your organization to prospective funders and external audiences.



8 firsthand tips to win the sustainability battle

By Jen Rinehart

Sustainability: it’s an ongoing struggle in the nonprofit world. Afterschool and summer learning programs are no strangers to writing sustainability plans and working tirelessly toward this goal. For many, sustainability is elusive. For all, it’s hard work.

In November, I had the opportunity to hear from three 21st CCLC-funded afterschool providers in Colorado who have achieved success in sustaining at least portions of their afterschool and summer programs. 

One of those project directors, Maria Ortiz, served as an Afterschool Ambassador in 2013 and manages a program in Poudre School District. Located in Fort Collins, Colo., the district is home to one of the first 21st CCLC-funded afterschool programs that I ever visited as a program officer at the U.S. Department of Education. 

I remember being impressed during that first visit back around 2001, and hearing Maria speak again recently only strengthened my initial impression. Maria has been part of the afterschool program in Fort Collins from the beginning and has done a tremendous job finding and cultivating local champions and applying for new grants to keep the program going for more than 15 years! 

Tips for sustainability success

Maria and her two counterparts, Clarice Fortunato of Englewood School District and Jovita Schiffer of Boulder Valley School District, offered many valuable insights, including these eight key sustainability tips:



An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Year-end appeals

By Michael Burke

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by Mike Burke, Director of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs. Check out the first, second, third and fourth installments.

Photo via Flickr.

As the calendar year draws to a close, many of you are busy with year-end fundraising campaigns. Because many people wait until December to make their tax-deductible donations, the year-end appeal is a great opportunity to engage your donors with highlights of the past year, as well as an opportunity to look forward to the coming year. If your afterschool program reached significant milestones, or has exciting plans to expand or begin a new initiative in the coming year, the year-end appeal is the perfect time to ask your donors to continue and/or increase their support.

In the digital age, there are many different approaches to how you can go about conducting your year-end appeal. Don’t discount the traditional direct-mail letter—it’s still an incredibly effective method for raising valuable funds. Some programs may opt instead to engage donors through email or social media.

Whether you are engaging your donors through direct-mail, via email, or using a combination of both, there are several key things to remember as you wrap up your year-end campaign.

Compare your year-end appeal to other campaigns

You’re probably receiving a lot of appeals from other organizations in both your mailbox and your email inbox. Take some time to examine their requests for support and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you like in their request for support?
  • Is there anything in their messaging that rubs you the wrong way?
  • Do you feel connected to their mission? If so, what makes their messaging effective? If not, what are they lacking?
  • What makes their appeal stand out from so many others?
  • The bottom line: Would you give to them?

Then, take what you’ve learned and use it to refine your own outreach.

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learn more about: Marketing Sustainability


An insider's guide to funding afterschool: The business of corporate fundraising

By Ed Spitzberg

Thanks for tuning in to our blog series, “An insider’s guide to funding afterschool.”  This series has been popular, and I want to make sure we’re answering questions you have. To that end, if you have questions you want answered, send ‘em my way at I’ll pick some of them to answer in a blog later this year.

So now that you’ve connected your donors to your mission, leveraged your resources, and done your prospect research, it’s time to break down the types of funders potentially available to you and start looking at how best to convert them to donors.

In general, there are two categories of donors: individual donors (private individuals, whether giving $5 online or $5 million to endow a new building) and institutional donors (government, foundation and corporate donors). Today, we’re going to delve into the latter, specificaly corporate fundraising.

Corporations, like other types of donors, give out of philanthropic desire to improve their community, their region and the world. But unlike other types of donors, corporations also have an additional motivation: serving their business interests. Therefore, as a fundraiser, it’s vital to always think like a business and understand their business interests when talking to corporations.*

While there are many different ways that corporations support afterschool programs (and more ways than I can cover in one blog entry, as corporate social responsibility is a complex and evolving area), we’ll focus on two main ways corporations can become partners.

Corporate marketing vs. corporate foundations

Most corporations have part of their budget set aside for marketing, and that marketing can take the shape of advancing your organization if you are giving the corporation a way to reach a larger or newer (or larger and newer) audience. To tap into this corporate marketing budget, you must not only develop relationships with the marketing staff, but you also must develop a specific idea and have a very good understanding of what you have to offer as a nonprofit:  access to your students, access to your families, access into the community, alignment with your wonderful work and brand… You need to understand all that—with numbers—so that you can make sure they understand it, too. So whether you want to partner with the local dry cleaner or a national grocery store chain, know your offerings, your reach and your impact.

Corporate foundations, on the other hand, while also focusing on the parent company’s business needs, often take a more high-level view of their mission. While often less concerned with eyeballs (though not necessarily unconcerned), they may care more about addressing broader societal challenges that also impact their work and future—e.g. filling their employment pipeline with a skilled workforce, or encouraging healthy eating for a manufacturer of healthy snacks. As with other private foundations, know their guidelines in advance to make sure your organization or your project fits. Also make sure to understand the business needs that are driving their priorities, so that you can communicate how your project strategically and effectively fits their goals.



An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Tips for prospect research success

By Michael Burke

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a new blog series from the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs. Check out the first and second installments.

As Grants Manager at the Afterschool Alliance, my role is to research, explore and help cultivate funding opportunities, and prepare and submit grant proposals to a wide array of potential funders.

One of the challenges your development team likely faces is: “How do we most efficiently maximize our fundraising efforts with limited time and human resources?” One key step is setting time aside to conduct thorough prospect research.

Why Research?

Because of the sometimes complicated nature of putting together a quality and persuasive grant proposal, it is important to target potential funders with the greatest chance of success. Taking the necessary time to find out whether the donor is a good fit will result in a higher chance of success once you have submitted your proposal.

Instead of spending time crafting grants cold, it is far more effective to spend that time researching those donors that:

  • Fund, or have a history of funding, afterschool programs
  • Provide funding for programs in your geographic area
  • Have a philanthropic focus on areas such as STEM or health & wellness that align very well with your program focus

After you’ve narrowed your prospect list by the criteria above, don’t forget to:

  • Look for personal connections: Spend some time researching whether your organization has a connection to a potential donor (e.g. perhaps a member of your Board of Directors was once an employee of a prospective corporate donor).
  • Revisit old research: If you have lost a funder who has refocused their philanthropic efforts or put a prospect aside because it doesn’t seem to fit, do not just assume that the donor is gone forever – spend some time researching whether the donor has pivoted back to an area that aligns with your program.

Fundraising Resources

You can find valuable research resources at:

The following digests can also keep you up to date with what is happening in the world of philanthropy, and can highlight donors that might be very strong potential funders for you:

Prospect research takes time, just as preparing a grant proposal takes time. Setting time aside, however, on the front end to identify the strongest possible targets will maximize your human resources so that your development team has the best chance of success in acquiring the necessary funding for your afterschool or summer leaning program. 

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learn more about: Sustainability Community Partners


Weekly Media Roundup: May 25, 2016

By Luci Manning

To Bridge the Gap (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas)

Joyce Willis, educational programs manager for the Clinton Foundation, makes the case for summer learning programs in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “Summer learning loss, also known as the ‘summer slide,’ affects nearly every student in the country…. This education loss is even more severe for students from low-income families who fall nearly three months behind in the summer…. That’s why it’s important for communities to come together and create opportunities for our students—all our students—to have access to quality educational and literacy programs.”

Organizers: Program for Inner-City Kids is Difference Between Life and Death (WHO, Iowa)

A ten-week summer program is attempting to transform Des Moines’ poorest neighborhoods into safe places for kids. “Doing More in the Core” is providing grants to non-profits and community organizations that offer activities for young people from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the summer, a time when police say youths are most likely to get into trouble. “Everybody’s home situation isn’t the best,” Oakridge Neighborhood site coordinator Stephen Williams told WHO. “Giving them an opportunity or a place to go or services that they can benefit from or learn from may help save a life.”

“There’s a Lot of Devastation,” After-School Programs Brace for Budget Cuts (KFOR, Oklahoma)

Oklahoma City Public Schools’ looming budget cuts will start affecting students this week as summer programs try to handle the cutbacks. Struggling students will lose out on tutoring, fun activities and meals thanks to the $30 million in planned reductions. “So, the kids will be home alone, a lot of them or out getting in trouble,” Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Jane Sutter told KFOR. “It’s a very economically challenged area of our community. There are not a lot of options for those kids. So, not only will they not get a nutritious meal probably during the day, they won’t have positive activities to help them grow and learn…  It is really time for our state leadership, our community leadership, everybody to make kids come first.”

Shaking up Fitness (Austin American-Statesman, Texas)

Middle school students throughout Austin are learning that biking and running are more than just ways to stay fit – they’re a way to build confidence, make friends and, most importantly, have fun. Boneshaker Project runs youth exercise programs at recreation centers and schools throughout the city, fulfilling its mission to foster a lifestyle of activity and movement. The nonprofit targets middle school kids, according to founder Todd Reed, because it’s an underserved age group when it comes to these sorts of programs. “We all realize there are more resources available to elementary kids than middle school kids,” he told the Austin American-Statesman. “There’s a gap there, at a time when kids are very impressionable.”