We here at the Afterschool Alliance are once again excited by the opportunity to administer the New York Life Foundation’s incredible Aim High Grant Program. For those of you who may not be aware, 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.
Last May, the foundation gave out grants to 18 out-of-school programs serving middle-school age youth, with their total investment totaling $750,000. Because they were so impressed with the incredible number of high-quality applicants to last year’s Aim High grants, the foundation has generously decided to almost double the total amount that they will be giving out this year to $1.35 million spread across 26 grants. The Aim High Grant Program is targeted towards afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs that serve disadvantaged middle school-aged youth, with a particular focus on supporting youth as they make the difficult transition from middle school to high school. The grant program also includes ten 1-year, $15,000 grants that are specifically focused on helping programs to better support youth with disabilities or other special needs.
Over the years, the Afterschool Alliance team has 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.
The grant application period doesn’t close until Friday, January 26, 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. Key indicators for success in high school
While there are no particular data points that is required from applicants in order to be eligible for the Aim High Grant Program, applicants that are able to supply some or all of the following data on youth will likely prove to be particularly competitive:
- In-school academic performance
- School attendance rates
- Rates of on-time promotion to 9th grade
- Development of social and emotional skills
2. 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 you don’t end up repeating information in different sections.
3. 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. Don’t assume that reviewers know anything in particular about your program, your curriculum, or your community.
4. Read, re-read, have someone else read, then read again.
It’s always helpful to have a second set of eyes to ensure that your answers fit together cohesively and to fully answer questions about the program. Spelling and grammar errors are not the only reason that proofreading can be helpful!