We here at the Afterschool Alliance are incredibly excited by the opportunity to administer the New York Life Foundation’s new Aim High grant program. This May, 18 awards will be made to out-of-school time programs serving disadvantaged youth. The Aim High program is part of the New York Life Foundation’s ongoing investment in middle school OST programs to help economically disadvantaged eighth-graders reach ninth grade on time.
Over the years, we here at the Afterschool Alliance have learned a lot about what makes for the strongest applications for funding opportunities like this, and what pitfalls it is important for applicants to avoid. Last week, we hosted a webinar to help you learn more about this incredible new grant opportunity and give insights into the application strategies that are most likely to make your application stand out from the crowd. We also created this handy FAQ document for you to help answer any questions you may have about the grants.
The grant application period doesn’t close until Friday, February 17th, so there’s still time to put together a great application! Below you can find some tips on how to put together the best application possible, and some reminders and resources that you may find helpful when preparing your application:
1. All questions have a purpose.
Keep in mind that every open-ended question is really an opportunity for you to explain and illustrate the value of your program. It’s important to pay close attention to the prompts, and make sure to read the full RFP before beginning the questions to gain a better understanding of what reviewers will be looking for. This will also help you make sure you don’t end up repeating information in different sections.
2. Provide lots of details.
Details matter! We rely on your application to give reviewers a complete and concrete picture of your program and how it impacts the lives of the youth you serve. Providing quantitative and qualitative data is especially important. Furthermore, it is important not to assume that reviewers know anything in particular about your program, your curriculum, or your community; make sure to provide all the details that we may need to understand why your program is such a good fit for this grant opportunity.
3. Read, re-read, have someone else read, then read again.
Download the Request for Proposals in order to review the questions and draft your answers first before filling out the application form online. This is particularly important because you can’t save your answers and go back to them at a later time through the online submission form that we use. The second is that it’s always helpful to see if your answers fit together in a cohesive narrative about the nominated program and fully answer questions about the program. The third reason, which may seem minor but is an important one, is to catch spelling and grammatical errors.