A Path to After-school Sustainability

by Terry Peterson

Diversification of funding sources is critical to sustaining the operation of after-school programming.

Many programs become dependent on a single funding source, which complicates their long-term existence.

While it may be harder to develop multiple funding streams, it’s important to do so, says Warren Fauver, director of the Community Learning Centers after-school programs in Wood County, Ohio, “even if some of them are fairly small, to help carry through as other funding subsides.”

Fauver’s program, which has benefited from a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, has had luck funding component parts of its services, such as a pregnancy prevention module.

Ideally, Fauver says, program directors should be seeking long-term support. “Short-term or year-to-year grants, even a lot of them, are not nearly as stabilizing as renewable funding,” he says. “That’s no secret.”

He also has cultivated relationships with a broad range of community organizations for programmatic and fund-raising reasons—an effort that has paid off significantly on both fronts.

Other common sources of revenue for after-school programs include: United Way, local community or education foundations; city or county governments; and sliding participation fees. Additional support can be provided by parent volunteers, a portion of a staff member’s time who is shared by two or three youth-serving organizations (YMCA, Junior Achievement, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H); cultural groups that supply artists and music instructors; high school students performing weekly community service; college work-study students and college volunteers; and a corps of senior citizens who help weekly.