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Positioning Youth Programs to Align with Funding and Partner Needs


Key aspects to consider when positioning your program to align with funding and partner needs. 

Today, we find ourselves in an unprecedented moment where a substantial funding stream has been established by the federal government to support programs that address the academic and social emotional needs of our young people resulting from the pandemic.

Educational leaders are increasingly focused on strategies to access and utilize funding to accelerate learning for those that need it most. High quality, comprehensive after school programs are uniquely positioned to help meet the needs of this moment as they can pick up where the traditional school day leaves off.

Historically, funding restrictions and competition have resulted in too few students gaining access to after school and summer programs. According to a study by RAND, high-income households spend seven-times more on out-of-school time (OST) programs, and students from these families are more likely to achieve large gains on test scores and to be better prepared for college and career. These programs foster budding artists, coach young athletes, provide academic interventions and, in many cases, offer safe childcare alternatives.

Today’s landscape provides us with a unique opportunity to think boldly to expand access to high quality learning experiences regardless of income, drive critical impact for your community and ultimately, demonstrate money well spent.

Here are a few key aspects to consider when positioning your program to align with funding and partner needs:

  • Lead with Social Emotional Learning (SEL):  Articulate how your approach will address the unique social and emotional needs of students in your community. Draw connections to the impact SEL has on the ability for youth to learn and grow and align your strategies to evidence-based practices and frameworks such as CASEL.
  • Include Flexible Academic Interventions: Regardless of your program’s focus, look for ways to incorporate an academic component – a key to many funding requirements. Access an extended learning ELA & Math curriculum to demonstrate your ability to meet student needs.
  • Make it measurable: Set up your program from the start to be measurable so you have proof of your impact. Presenting strong outcomes can lead to increased participation and enrollment.

Consider how you can lighten the load for your local school to help meet the needs of their students. The academic and social emotional needs for students are greater than ever and extended learning programs are uniquely positioned to address these needs. Leveraging the current opportunity may not only meet the current needs of your community but position you for enduring partnerships – and support – into the future.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams serves as chief of partner success at BellXcel, a nonprofit focused on supporting partners to lead quality expanded learning programs by leveraging technology and evidence-based practices. Mark has dedicated his career to the issue of educational equity and innovation as a teacher and nonprofit leader.

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