- Finding Support for Getting Kids Outside
By Tamra Willis, C&NN Natural Teachers Network
Locating funds and in-kind support for outdoor activities with kids is not that difficult. Educators I know have found all kinds of support right in their own communities. Others have received major funding from state and national foundations or granting programs. Timing is important and so is the way you go about asking.
To begin the process, you should carefully think through your program goals and objectives. What do you hope to accomplish and why? How will the program benefit children? Also, how will you know you have met the goals and objectives? For example, if you want to develop a schoolyard garden at your school, create a plan that includes the basic ideas of the garden project and includes some measurable student learning outcomes or health benefits. Or, if you would like to find funding for an outdoor preschool program, include the physical and social benefits for children in your plan with a list of ways you could measure those benefits. Review the research on the C&NN website to help you with this process.
Here are a few other tips:
1. Start locally. It may be easiest to get support from parent and other local organizations and from local businesses. These groups tend to know the school, the kids, and they also have the most to gain from giving. Asking for donations of items from businesses at the end of a season helps. For example, you may get perennial flowers from a local nursery or box store after they have bloomed. Discount stores such as Walmart may provide backpacks and other outdoor gear after the school sales end. It is especially important to recognize the support from local businesses; tell them you will mention the donation on the school website or newsletter.
2. Ask your school's parent groups for help. The PTA or other parent groups are often looking for specific projects to support. If they know that the project goals include student learning or combating childhood obesity, they are sure to get involved. Consider giving a PowerPoint presentation of the research on outdoor benefits at one of their monthly meetings. The school's parent group is likely to provide both funds and volunteer help for your project. If they do support your program, be sure to keep them informed of your progress; student presentations work the best!
3. Seek help from local civic groups. The Lions Clubs, Ruritans, Kiwanis, and other groups are looking for good causes to support. These clubs may become a yearly source for funds, especially if they are involved in the implementation of the project. If they help in a big way, consider naming the project after the local club- a way to help insure their continued support.
4. Look on-line for grants that somewhat match your goals. These may be connected to businesses, organizations, foundations or state/federal government. Either way, you will need to read the RFP (Request for Proposals) or grant requirements carefully. The RFP will clearly list the goals of the grantor. You must decide if their goals and your program goals are a close enough match to warrant the work required to submit a proposal. Keep in mind that your proposal MUST meet the goals of the grantor. In other words, you may have to alter your goals a bit to match theirs. Follow the guidelines as if you were following a new recipe; use their language for category names and clearly answer each question. Only apply for major grants if you have the organizational support to handle the funds and implementation plan. Large grants require that you keep up with progress reports and financial reports.
A list of possible grants:
National Gardening Association: http://assoc.garden.org/grants/
Lowes Grants: http://www.toolboxforeducation.com/
State Master Gardener or EE Grants- Check your state listings
Toyota Tapestry: http://www.nsta.org/pd/tapestry/
General Mills: http://www.generalmills.com/Responsibility/Community_Engagement/Gra...
More Grant Writing Tips:
For more information visit http://childrenandnature.ning.com/group/naturalteachers/forum/topics/finding-support-for-getting-kids-outside
or check out the list of grants on SEEK at http://www.seek.state.mn.us/sb_type.cfm?type=Grant/Funding
- Posted: 10/20/11
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