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find sustainable funding sources— use this approach:

  • Work as part of an Out-of-School Time coalition.
  • Identify and secure “champion funding partners” — They can serve as key members of the coalition.
  • Create and sign MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) — It should specify fundraising roles and responsibilities that partners will assume.
  • Identify a staff person to monitor & track collective fundraising efforts — This individual should be the point-person for these tasks and can be either a volunteer or an employee of one of the coalition’s partner organizations .
  • Map current sources of funding for Out-of-School Time — You can use this map to identify gaps in support and to inform funding and sustainability strategies at many levels (federal, state, local, private, etc.).
  • Jointly develop business plans — They should include shared resources across partners, creative funding and sustainability strategies, and defined multiple-year funding goals.
  • Collect aggregate outcomes data and individual testimonies — Gather this from program participants to create common messages for policymakers and public and private funders that tell the story of impact. (Read more about using data to support & strengthen OST here.)
  • Submit joint funding proposals — They can support multiple programs when possible.
  • Learn from the early childhood movement and jointly fund return on investment studies — This can demonstrate the cost savings to communities as a result of funding high-quality out-of-school initiatives.
  • Get educated about the cost of quality programs and hold programs accountable for results — It is much easier to make the case for continued investment in out-of-school time when you can demonstrate success on outcomes that communities care about. To see an Out-of-School time cost study funded by the Wallace Foundation, click here).
  • Create realistic expectations — In economically hard times, coalitions will have to focus on maintaining current funding levels rather than advocating for significant increases.
  • Buffer the impact of cuts and leverage trained volunteers — Use them to support program elements that can no longer be supported with paid staff, tap local businesses to donate supplies and leverage in-kind support (e.g. facilities use, staff time).
  • Require sustainability plans This should be required section in the grant proposals of the programs you fund.
  • Consider using sliding fee scales and/or soliciting donations from families — This can keep programs going and increase ownership and buy-in.
  • Provide or facilitate access to sustainability training opportunities — Local program directors could benefit from this type of training.


To learn more tips on finding sustainable funding, head to the Learning Modules.


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