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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


Meet Elizabeth Tish, our new Special Assistant to the Executive Director

By Elizabeth Tish

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Tish and I’m the new Special Assistant to the Executive Director here at the Afterschool Alliance. My first experience with afterschool occurred in high school, when I participated in a summer learning program focused on college access and success. The program taught me how to succeed as a first generation college student—lessons I’m thankful for to this day. I’m excited to be here at the Afterschool Alliance, where I can work toward the goal of more students having a transformational experience in an afterschool program like I did!

I graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with my BA in Public Policy this past December, and have completed two internships here in Washington, D.C. focusing on access to higher education and college affordability. While completing my degree, I had the opportunity to return to my summer program and complete research on what it means to enter college as an underserved student, as well as share my experiences in college with high school students who would soon start that process themselves.  

As Special Assistant, I will provide administrative and program support to the Executive Director, as well as work on special projects. I’m looking forward to learning more about the management of a national nonprofit like the Afterschool Alliance. I also hope to study and share the ways that afterschool programs can offer career and college readiness programming for their participants, especially programs that serve communities with many potential first generation college students like mine.  

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance


Weekly Media Roundup: July 20, 2016

By Luci Manning

City Councilors Serve Up Free Meals for Students during Summer Break (Tulsa World, Oklahoma)

Employees at the Cornerstone Community Center got help providing summer meals to students last week from two Tulsa city councilors. The center’s Summer Café program offers breakfast and lunch weekdays throughout the summer to ensure students are getting healthy, filling meals when school is out. “The program itself (Summer Café) is hugely important,” Councilor Anna America told Tulsa World. “We’ve got thousands and thousands of kids who don’t have basic needs met. For many of these kids, during the school year they’ll get breakfast and lunch from the school. Over the summer, it’s a huge problem.”

Boom Comics Gives out Free Comics, Lunch to Support National Summer Learning Day, Other Initiatives (Topeka Capital-Journal, Kansas)

Various Topeka community organizations last week came together to put on a special “Meet and Eat” event to celebrate Summer Learning Day and promote literacy and healthy eating habits for students. The event was held at Boom Comics, which handed out free comics to participating children. Harvesters and the Kansas Department of Education’s summer food service program collaborated to provide a free meal for students while other groups gave out free books and put together games. “It’s not just a positive for the communities that are involved here – the small business owner, the nonprofits – but the kids win. And that’s what we’re about,” Harvesters government programs manager Angela Jeppesen told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “We want these kids to win. We want them to be positively supported by the community.”

The Rec Still Welcoming Youth after 75 Years (Dayton Daily News, Ohio)

Teens have been using the Troy Recreation Hall (better known as the Rec) to play basketball, work on homework and catch up with their friends for 75 years. “The Rec has survived over the years because it has had tremendous community support as well as its ability to meet the ever changing needs of the youth of Troy,” Rec board president Andrew Wannemacher told Dayton Daily News. The Rec offers free afterschool activities for middle school and high school students, including basketball, dodgeball, billiards, ping-pong and video games, and also provides computers and a homework room for students to get some extra work done.

STEM Classes Sprout in Summer (New York Daily News, New York)

A new program launching in New York City will give 4,000 students from underserved areas the opportunity to explore STEM fields this summer. Last week, City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña unveiled the STEM Summer in the City classes, which will teach topics like computer coding, video game design and robotics to students in grades two through ten. According to the Daily News, Fariña sees STEM and summer learning as “critical pieces of putting our students on the path to college and careers,” especially for at-risk children who may not otherwise have such opportunities. 

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learn more about: Nutrition Science Summer Learning


Changing the game for girls in STEM

By Erin Murphy

A new white paper from the nationally-recognized STEM education provider Techbridge calls for a more sophisticated approach to engaging girls in STEM. Across the U.S., girls are growing up in cities and regions bustling with innovation, yet many do not consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) due to lack of encouragement and opportunity. Meanwhile, STEM jobs are growing at an unprecedented rate, and companies are scrambling to build diversity in their workforce. Closing the opportunity gap for girls, especially for girls of color, will open up a tremendous untapped pool of talent.

Disappointingly, many previous and ongoing efforts to engage girls and minorities in STEM have had a hard time moving the needle. This paper draws upon Techbridge’s 16 years of experience in successfully improving outcomes for girls in STEM, as well as interviews from STEM education leaders in order to spotlight the most effective ways to foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce. The paper reveals two broad strategies to engineer a revolution in STEM diversity:

  • Design with diverse girls and communities in mind. Make sure to understand who will be in your program and customize programming and curriculum. Girls from different communities will have different wants and needs. Program designers should listen to the voices from the communities they serve.
  • Strengthen the girl-centric ecosystem. There are many factors that will influence the likelihood of girls to pursue STEM, so building strong community partnerships is key. Embrace an ecosystem approach and build partnerships between programs and families. Additionally, build relationships between programs and STEM industries to train female role models who can work with girls.


Confirmed: funding for afterschool maintained in House education spending bill

By Erik Peterson

Participants from the Alternatives Inc. afterschool program visit the Capitol during this year's Afterschool for All Challenge.

As previewed on the Afterschool Snack last week, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill on July 13th and 14th, maintaining funding for federal afterschool and summer learning programs. In total, the draft bill includes $161.6 billion in discretionary funding, which is $569 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.8 billion President Obama's budget request.

According to a statement by the Appropriations Committee, “funding within the bill is targeted to proven programs with the most national benefit.” The bill cuts discretionary funding for the Department of Education by $1.3 billion compared to fiscal year 2016 levels, but keeps 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) level with last year’s funding at $1.16 billion.

The new Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grant program in Title IV Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is funded at $1 billion, $700 million above the Senate LHHS bill and $500 million above the President’s budget request, for grants that provide flexible funds to states and school districts to expand access to a well-rounded education (including afterschool STEM initiatives), improve school conditions, and improve the use of technology. The bill also includes $10 million for Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grants whereas the Senate version of the bill had provided no funding for FSCS.

The legislation includes funding for programs within the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

With regard to 21st CCLC, the funding level set in the House bill will allow 21st CCLC to continue providing quality afterschool and summer learning programs for almost two million children through local school-community partnerships. The bill also funds the Child Care Development Block Grant at $2.8 billion, a significant funding stream for school-age child care.

On the Senate side, the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee and full Committee marked up its FY17 spending bill earlier this summer, cutting $117 million from 21st CCLC

Add your voice to the debate on afterschool funding

Given the activity in the House and Senate around important policy and funding decisions, now is an opportune time to reach out to members of Congress to remind them of the value of afterschool and summer learning programs in inspiring learning, keeping young people safe, and helping working families.



Guest Blog: 10 ways to engage youth in the election

By Robert Abare

Written by Rachel Roberson, who leads the Letters to the Next President project for KQED

With the 2016 election prominent in the minds of voting-age Americans, one might wonder how young people can participate in the conversation about our country’s political future. Even if they are not old enough to cast their votes in November, youth have an undeniable stake in the outcome of this year’s presidential election. So how do we engage them in a meaningful way?

Letters to the Next President is a project that invites young people ages 13 to 18 to make their voices heard by writing letters or creating multimedia projects about election issues that matter to them. The initiative, organized by the National Writing Project, KQED Public Media and a coalition of partners including the Afterschool Alliance, has assembled a robust collection of resources for educators to help youth create letters.

Here are ten resources to help you engage youth this election year:

  1. Election Central 2016 from PBS LearningMedia
    At Election Central 2016, teachers will find tools, resources and creative solutions to educate students on the various facets of the political process. With content about the process and history of elections, these tools help turn news coverage into learning opportunities.
  2. Election Collection from NYTimes Learning Network
    Election news will dominate the headlines all summer long. Here are a few ways students can keep up with the candidates, campaigns, conventions and controversies — and make their own opinions heard.
  3. Letters to the Next President 2.0 Kick-off Webinar
    In this hangout educators described the power of participating in the previous iteration of L2P and highlighted the growing set of opportunities and resources available to educators supporting youth engagement for the 2016 Presidential Election.
  4. A Teacher’s Perspective from Edutopia
    Ellen Shelton, Site Director at the University of Mississippi Writing Project and former high school teacher in Tupelo, Mississippi, explains why she believes supporting this kind of political discussion in the classroom can have a deep impact on students now and in the future.
  5. Teaching the Art of Civil Dialogue
    Educator Chris Sloan reflects on using resources from Do Now, a weekly activity for students to engage and respond to current issues using social media tools.
  6. Developing and Discussing Political Views In the Classroom
    Educator Janelle Bence discusses some of her strategies for supporting students in discussing a wide range of political opinions in the classroom.
  7. Election Activities Outside the Classroom
    This blog post provides educators with a guide for developing L2P 2.0 letter-writing into a focused, whole-class civic action effort.
  8. NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program
    The goal of this mini-unit is to support students as they explore the purpose and format of Letters to the Next President 2.0, choose an issue worth writing about, gather information from multiple sources, develop a claim and write a complete argument draft.
  9. Argumentative Writing from Teaching Channel
    This video contains an in-depth conversation on lesson planning for reading and writing, identifying main ideas and developing arguments.
  10. Dear Next President from PBS NewsHour Extra
    Encourage youth to talk about election issues that matter to them by producing a video letter to our next president.  Find key steps to creating a video for Letters to the Next President along with examples and tutorials to help young media makers get started.

To explore this initiative in more detail, we encourage you to check out the youth letters from the first iteration of Letters to the Next President in 2008. You can also find more resources at, and sign up to receive monthly bulletins about new ways to participate.



Afterschool leaders selected as 2016 White-Riley-Peterson Fellows

By Elizabeth Tish

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley

Earlier this month, sixteen advocates for afterschool and expanded learning leaders from across the country were chosen as the 2016-2017 cohort of White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows.

Throughout the White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship, a partnership between the Riley Institute at Furman University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, fellows will study policy-making for afterschool and expanded learning through real world case studies. During the 10-month program, fellows will also design and implement a state-level policy project with the support of their Statewide Afterschool Network and the Afterschool Alliance.

The White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship is named for William S. White, President and CEO of the C.S. Mott Foundation; Richard W. Riley, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education under President Clinton; and Dr. Terry Peterson, National Board Chair with the Afterschool Alliance, Director, Afterschool and Community Learning Network, and senior fellow at the Riley Institute.

The 2016-2017 White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows are:

  • Billie Jo Bakeberg, Steering Committee Chair, South Dakota Afterschool Network (Spearfish, S.D.)
  • Suzanne Birdsall, State Director, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), Department of Education (Silver Lake, N.H.)
  • David Carroll, Chief Program Officer, Neighborhood Houses (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • Lisa Caruthers, Director, Center for Afterschool, Summer and Expanded Learning, Harris County Department of Education (Houston, Texas)
  • Leslie Garvin, Executive Director, North Carolina Campus Compact (Elon, N.C.)
  • Nichelle Harris, Network Lead, Ohio Afterschool Network (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Jessica Hay, Program Director, California Afterschool Network (Sacramento, Calif.)
  • Stephanie Lennon, Policy & Advocacy Coordinator, School’s Out Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Amber May, Organizer – Program Director, Mississippi Statewide Afterschool Partnership Network — Operation Shoestring, Inc. (Jackson, Miss.)
  • Shallie Pitman, Youth Development Associate, ACT Now (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Kelly Riding, Network Lead, Utah Afterschool Network (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • Laura Saccente, Director, Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) (Camp Hill, Penn.)
  • Megan Stanek, Network Director, Oklahoma Partnership for Expanded Learning (OPEL) (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
  • Patrick Stanton, Creative Research Director, Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (Boston, Mass.)
  • Kelly Malone Sturgis, Executive Director, New York State Network for Youth Success (Albany, N.Y.)
  • Courtney Sullivan, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence (Tempe, Ariz.)

You can find more information about all 75 fellows who have participated in the program since its creation in 2012 through the Riley Institute.



Victories for STEM education in recent legislative activity

By Anita Krishnamurthi

As the legislative season winds down, several wins for afterschool STEM education have emerged. Most recently, on July 13-14 the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill. The bill maintains funding for 21st CCLC at the current level of $1.16 billion, which is very good news! As you might recall, the Senate version of the bill cut afterschool by $117 million, in line with President Obama's budget request.

Informal STEM education has bright outlook in new bills

STEM is increasingly an integral part of afterschool programs, so the House's proposed funding level for 21st CCLC will ensure that millions of children will continue to have access to STEM learning opportunities. The House education spending bill also provides $1 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, the new block grant in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Although this is lower than the authorized level of $1.65 billion, the House appropriation puts the funding at $700 million over the Senate LHHS bill and $500 million above the President’s budget request. STEM education advocates are breathing a collective sigh of relief, as this grant was designed to be a formula grant for districts to use toward a wide range of activities, including STEM programing (with very supportive language about partnerships with afterschool programs), arts education and counseling services. House appropriators have indicated their strong support for the initiative with this funding level, but the final outcome is far from guaranteed as the Senate and House numbers will have to be reconciled eventually.

On July 7, 2016, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a full committee markup of H.R. 5587, The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Actwhich you may know better as the Perkins CTE bill. The update includes changes that recognize the role of afterschool and summer programs in preparing young people for the workforce, and explicitly includes community-based organizations as eligible entities for funding. The bill has provisions for states to award grants that provide “support for programs and activities that increase access, student engagement, and success in STEM fields (including computer science), especially for underrepresented groups.” This provision could be very beneficial for afterschool STEM programs, especially when combined with the new expanded eligibility for starting these activities in the 5th grade (compared to the previous limit of 7th grade). 

Finally, the Senate Commerce Committee marked up S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which encompasses plan to reauthorize the America COMPETES Actin late June. This bill authorizes the various federal science mission agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, NSF, Dept. of Energy etc., including their significant investments in STEM education. There are several key elements of the bill that are supportive of informal/afterschool STEM programming: