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Your arts program could win $10,000 and an invitation to the White House

By Rachel Clark

Des Moines Public Schools students showed off their artistic talents at their 2016 Lights On Afterschool celebration.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities is currently seeking applicants for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. According to the Committee, the award is “the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.”

12 outstanding programs from a wide range of communities across the country will be recognized with a $10,000 grant, an invitation to accept the award at the White House, and a full year of capacity-building and communications support to ensure their programming will benefit youth for years to come.

Who’s eligible?

The short answer: many afterschool programs!

The eligibility criteria specify that applicants must operate as ongoing, regularly-scheduled programs for children and youth outside of the school day, using one or more disciplines of the arts or humanities as the core content of their programs, and must concentrate on underserved children and youth. The programming must involve children and youth as active participants, rather than only as an audience for arts or humanities experiences, and must integrate arts and humanities education with youth development goals.

Additionally, programs must have been operational since January 2013 for a minimum of five years, including 2017, and must be a 501(c)(3) organization, state or local government entity, or federally recognized tribal community or tribe.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Arts


3 tips on nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award

By Nikki Yamashiro

After two years of reading nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award, the staff at the Afterschool Alliance has learned a lot about the work accomplished by the afterschool field. We’ve seen students becoming reporters and editors in a Dane County, Wisconsin, afterschool program that focuses on publishing student-run newspapers for the area. We’ve discovered an afterschool program in Atlanta, Georgia, that works with the area’s immigrant and refugee population, providing one-on-one support and a literacy curriculum designed for English language learners to ensure that students are academically prepared to enter high school.

We’ve also learned the qualities shared by strong nomination forms, and the mistakes commonly made by nominators. For these reasons, as well as to help answer frequently asked questions about the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award (still accepting nominations!), we hosted a webinar on Nov. 10. In the webinar, we shared insights on the award process, answered audience questions, and offered tips to filling out the nomination form. 

The call for nominations doesn’t close until Dec. 16, so you still have time to nominate a program!  Here are three tips to consider from the webinar before getting started:

1. Be an advocate for your program.

How can you differentiate your program from the other programs that are being nominated? Think about how your program is helping meet the needs of your students, parents and/or community. Is there something about the community the program serves that should be highlighted? Is there strong data that demonstrates the positive impact of the program? There are a number of open-ended questions in the nomination form; use each question as an opportunity to highlight for reviewers the role that the program is playing to help its students. Be an advocate for your program and make the strongest case possible to help reviewers recognize its value.

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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Literacy


This grant could support your program's socially conscious art project

By Elizabeth Tish

The Puffin Foundation West seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and voices often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. To achieve that goal, the organization offers grants for arts projects that discuss a wide range of social and civil justice issues. 

A grant from Puffin Foundation West could provide valuable support to an afterschool program seeking to inform the local community about an important issue through the arts. Issues that could be addressed include food insecurity, peace, prisons, discrimination, race, culture, sexual orientation, trafficking, global warming, environmental protection, nuclear proliferation, poverty, gender issues, racial profiling, immigration, bullying, violence in schools, homelessness, gun control, animal rights, and more.

2016 Puffin grantees included the following:

  • ArtSparks is a nonprofit that sends professional teams of dance instructors and musicians to work with 900 third grade students in the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton City, Ohio school districts.
  • The Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition’s (MCC) Changing Minds Campaign raises positive visibility of the accomplishments of people who have mental illness. Each year, the MCC holds a celebration at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to recognize companies for taking action to diversify their workforce by hiring people who have mental illness.
  • Columbus Dance Theatre offers full or partial scholarship classes to young men and boys in central Ohio, in an effort to encourage the development of men in dance. Classes consist of ballet, fitness training, modern dance, jazz, partnering, and repertoire.
  • Play Us Forward seeks to overcome the socioeconomic barriers in learning how to play the violin by providing instruction and instruments at no cost to the student or student’s family.

You can find the full list of grantees on the Puffin Foundation West website. You must be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States to be eligible for the award, and must be applying for a project in the United States.



The Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award is back!

By Nikki Yamashiro

We are so excited to announce the return of the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award!  With the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is once again looking for stellar afterschool programs that provide students with integral literacy learning opportunities to develop their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. This year, the focus of the award is on English language learners and the ways afterschool programs ensure that these students have the reading and writing abilities they need to thrive.

Nominations for the $10,000 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award are now open.  Here are three tips to help you get started:

  1. Download a PDF version of the nomination form to review the questions ahead of time and see what information you need gather on the program you are nominating.

  2. Send us any questions you have about the award and/or nomination form that we can answer during our upcoming webinar on Nov. 10, "What Reviewers Want: Insights on Nominations for the Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award."

  3. Tune in for the webinar on Nov. 10, where we’ll cover the qualities of a promising nomination form and common critiques of past nomination submissions from people who have been involved in the review process.

Nominations are due by December 16, 2016

Be sure to share this opportunity with your friends and colleagues! We’re looking forward to reading about the great work supporting English language learner students that is taking place in afterschool programs across the country.



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.



Funding opportunity: Bring Soccer for Success to your afterschool program

By Tiereny Lloyd

photo courtesy of the U.S. Soccer Foundation

In partnership with Trinity Health, the U.S. Soccer Foundation recently announced a funding opportunity to expand their free out of school program, Soccer for Success. The Foundation seeks community partners to implement this program for 12 weeks during the spring of 2017, and who will return to operate the program for 24 weeks during the 2017-2018 academic year (fall 2017 through spring 2018).

What is Soccer for Success?

Soccer for Success is an evidence-based program created by the U.S. Soccer Foundation that uses soccer as a tool to address children’s health issues and juvenile delinquency, while promoting healthy lifestyles in urban and underserved communities. The program’s innovative curriculum is aimed at maximizing physical activity among participants each session, while also providing nutrition education and information on healthy lifestyles through unique soccer activities. Since the program’s inception, the Soccer for Success program has become a national movement, serving over 71,000 children in more than 130 cities.

How can I obtain funding?

The request for proposals (RFP) and application can be found on the U.S. Soccer Foundation website. The RFP provides details regarding funding, timelines and qualifications. Grant applications are due no later than Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST. Grant awards will be announced by November 17, 2016. Please note that your program must be located in a specific community. Find out if your program location qualifies.

Grants from U.S. Soccer Foundation provide support for Soccer for Success programs in many ways. Awardees will be provided with jerseys, soccer balls, socks, shin guards and field equipment, based on the number of participants enrolled in Soccer for Success. In unique circumstances, cash grants can also be provided to organizations that need support to pay coaches, program management staff, and/or family and community engagement and miscellaneous program costs. Funding priority will be given to organizations that do not require this support.

Need more information?

The U.S. Soccer Foundation will hold a call for interested applicants on September 29, 2016. Information about this call can also be found on the U.S. Soccer Foundation website.



Your community could win $25K through the Culture of Health Prize

By Robert Abare

Every year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) honors U.S. communities that are making strides and setting an example in the effort to lead more people to healthy lifestyles through the Culture of Health Prize. In 2017, up to 10 winners will receive a $25,000 prize, along with the opportunity to share their strategies and accomplishments with the nation through RWJF.

The Culture of Health prize recognizes and celebrates communities where businesses, nonprofits or civic organizations—including afterschool programs—law enforcement and schools have joined forces to improve the community's health and overall wellbeing. The deadline to apply for the 2017 Culture of Health Prize is November 2, 2016.

What are the judges looking for?

There are many ways a community can build a Culture of Health, including:  encouraging healthy behaviors, establishing clinical care, researching social and economic factors, and improving the physical environment. Judges will look to see that applicant communities are taking action across these areas. Judges will also look to see how a community responds to the unique needs of its citizens, and are particularly interested in seeing effective changes in education, employment/income, family and social support, and community safety.

Who is eligible to apply?

As the Culture of Health Prize is intended to honor U.S. communities at large, submissions representing the work of a single organization will not be considered. However, afterschool programs are doing their part to improve the health of kids, families and communities across the country. Your program could play a key role in the application process, and could stand to benefit if your community wins the Culture of Health Prize.

Applications to the Culture of Health Prize may represent any of the following:

  • City, town, village, borough, and other local incorporated places.
  • County or parish.
  • Federally-recognized tribe.
  • Native Hawaiian organization serving and representing the interests of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii.
  • Region (such as contiguous towns, cities, or counties). 
  • Neighborhoods, states and unincorporated local communities are not eligible to apply. 


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