Taking a Systemic Approach to Funding & Sustainability

United Ways, working as part of out-of-school time coalitions, can:

  • Identify and secure “champion funding partners” as members of the coalition.
  • Create and sign MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) that specifies fundraising roles and responsibilities that partners will assume.
  • Identify a staff person from one of the coalition’s partner organizations or volunteers who will assume primary responsibility for monitoring and tracking collective fundraising efforts.
  • Map current sources of funding for out-of-school time (federal, state, local, private, etc.); use this map to identify gaps in support and inform funding and sustainability strategies.
  • Jointly develop business plans that include: shared resources across partners; creative funding and sustainability strategies; and defined multiple-year funding goals.
  • Collect aggregate outcomes data and individual testimonies from program participants to create common messages for policymakers and public and private funders that tell the story of impact. (Also see “Using Data to Support and Strengthen Out-of-School Time”).
  • opportunities arise, submit joint funding proposals that can support multiple programs.
  • Learn from the early childhood movement and jointly fund return on investment studies to 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 the line on 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 economic hard times, coalitions will have to focus on maintaining current funding levels rather than advocating for significant increases.
  • Buffer the impact of cuts by leveraging trained volunteers 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 that programs you fund develop sustainability plans as part of their grant proposals.
  • Consider using sliding fee scales and/or soliciting donations from families to keep programs going and increase ownership and buy-in.
  • Provide or facilitate access to sustainability training opportunities for local program directors.