December 8, 2015
Guest blogger: Patrick Duhon, consultant and former director of the Providence After School Alliance
This is the first of two articles on planning for summer programming. January’s entry will look at program themes, staff preparation, and program outcomes and measurement.
While some school districts wait until spring to start summer planning, 21st CCLC and other out-of-school time providers need to plan early. Start between now and the new year, and you’ll be ready to deliver a robust program next summer.
Why so early? Your first step is getting the major players and pieces, including funding, in place. Here are the basics that deserve your immediate attention.
First, do advance planning with school and district leaders:
Reach out to new partners in your district and demonstrate how your summer learning goals align with important academic outcomes and social and emotional learning.
Provide as much data as possible — pre/post test results, youth development outcomes, grades, test scores, independent reports or evaluations — anything that underscores the quality of your program.
Estimate your program capacity and the costs for scaling up your program; show your partners the largest number of students you could serve and the full costs for you to deliver that program. Determine the cost for the most robust program possible — but also know what you could be cut and still offer a high-quality program.
Once you’ve aligned your champions and determined the costs, identify the funding sources, know when you can tap them and secure the funding:
It’s important to note that summer programs usually run over two fiscal years. That’s true for Title I funding, a major potential source from schools, as the fiscal year is July 1-June 30. Show the district and partner principals the wisdom of funding some upfront costs, such as planning, training and supplies, before June 30. This will put a smaller portion of summer program costs in the next fiscal year. Ask soon, because schools usually submit Title I reallocation plans to states by January.
Considering both fiscal years might help you with other funding sources, too. Be mindful of this when budgeting and fundraising.
Research on high-yield out-of-school time programs — in the summer and year round — shows significant youth outcomes. Combine information on research with data from your program to connect to funding from other potential sources, including these:
Career and technical education funds: Work with your district to incorporate career awareness and exploration into your summer activities, and make a case for getting support from federal Perkins grant and local workforce development funds. Districts often struggle to provide these mandatory activities for elementary and middle school students, so may appreciate having your summer program connect youth with a variety of professional fields.
Other federal title funding for special populations: Your program can provide opportunities for English language learners and students with IEPs and special needs to thrive through hands-on, experiential learning. Districts often want more opportunities to offer these students.
Private sources: Align your summer program with STEM learning or another focus area of private and family foundations. Be creative by asking funders for “matching grants,” and use these to get district funds. Foundations win with new investments, and districts win by showing school boards they leveraged private funding.