Securing funding to keep an after-school program alive and thriving is challenging. Long-term thinking is essential for securing funding and sustaining after-school programs. By focusing on what is ahead—and putting a plan in place to manage grant funding—after-school program directors can give their programs a strong foundation for the future. This article explores the importance of long-term thinking when it comes to creating grants management plans for after-school programs.
Being Proactive Regarding Educational Grant Funding
It is important for after-school program directors to remember that grant funding is temporary—and to plan accordingly. Typically, 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) grants have a three- to five-year life span. Although after-school program directors can reapply, the process takes time, and funding is neither guaranteed nor immediate.
A strategic grants management plan will help ensure the best possible use of grant funding to set the after-school program up for success. This is also a good opportunity to explore diversifying funding sources and other strategic initiatives to set the program up for long-term sustainability.
Missed Deadlines Lead to Missed Opportunities
Grant applications have strict timelines in place—which is why after-school program directors need to be proactive to avoid missing out on opportunities. When grant-makers send out a Request ForProposal (RFP) with submission requirements, important deadlines, and budget specifications, submitting a grant proposal before the deadline is imperative to secure funding. Program directors can create internal timelines and discuss what might be needed from colleagues early on to ensure deadlines are met. Because after-school program teams are tasked with compiling, submitting and collecting a lot of data, being cognizant of application deadlines far in advance allows a program development team the time needed to seek out and secure future funding opportunities.
Collecting Data to Demonstrate Success
A big part of reapplying for grant funding is demonstrating program successes in a series of annual reports. This means compiling program data—and a lot of it. Grant applications and Annual Performance Reports (21APR)—which are required to maintain 21CCLC funding—must include important performance metrics, such as year-over-year attendance rates and the total number of enrolled students.
Information such as attendance rate, impact on participant academics, and other performance data can be challenging and time-consuming to compile. Be proactive by tracking program data year-over-year to ensure information is readily available for the next grant application. A data management solution like AfterSchool21 can help track foundational metrics and provide simple roll-up reports to help program directors submit grant applications on time.
AfterSchool21 is the leading cloud based management solution trusted by 9 states and thousands of programs to simplify data tracking and analysis, and is the first solution to provide a direct link to 21APR for data verification and submission. With features such as longitudinal data analysis and attendance tracking, the benefits of utilizing a data management solution for after-school programs are clear. After-school program directors use AS21 and AS201 to collect the data they need to sustain their programs, which ultimately helps them eliminate the burden of complex reporting and record keeping.
With the right solution and a long-term strategy in place, after-school program administrators can build sustainable after-school programs that are set up for future success. Schedule a demo to learn how AfterSchool21 has been helping programs report outcomes for diverse funding sources for over 20 years.