Monday, August 23, 2010

Member Survey for the Coalition for Science After School

The Coalition is always looking for new and better ways to serve our members. If you're a member of the Coalition, please take a moment to fill out our member survey so that we can better present the case for STEM education in out of school time. You can take the survey online here. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete.

If you're not a member, it only takes a minute to sign up. Membership is free, and is a great opportunity for networking, learning about new afterschool science resources, and making your voice heard in the national conversation on STEM in Afterschool! Join at the Coalition's website.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Afterschool Programs for Underserved Youth

Equity and access issues are big concerns for afterschool programs across the country. In a recent survey by Bayer, a "lack of quality science and math education programs in poorer school districts" was cited as the top reason for minority underrepresentation in STEM careers. This puts extra impetus on afterschool providers to make space in their programs for underrepresented youth.

Afterschool stakeholders from across the country will be coming together to share their ideas about equity and access issues at our upcoming Conference in September. In the meantime, check out these great programs from our Directory:

Flandreau Indian School Success Academy at South Dakota State University: this program helps students pursue careers, including in STEM, identified by tribal leaders as being of particular need in their communities.

Junior Paleontologists at Project Exploration: Our good friends (and conference co-hosts) at Project Exploration take minority students on real paleontological excavations in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Camp GOAL at the Intrepid Museum Foundation Inc.: a four-week summer science program for underrepresented middle-school girls in NYC.

Multiethnic Introduction to Engineering (MITE) at Purdue University: qualified students interested about engineering learn about how to pursue an engineering at the Purdue campus.

Latinos in Forestry at Oregon State University: a pre-college recruitment program for students interested in natural resource management.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Funding Your Afterschool Science Program Part II: Monitoring and Applying for Grants

This is a special two part blog post on finding grants for your afterschool science program. Check out last week's post for where to find grants for afterschool programs. 

One of the most challenging aspects of managing an afterschool program is securing adequate funding. Even if the program charges a participation or admission fee, it is rarely enough to cover the total costs of operation. Keeping track of grant opportunities ensures that programs will have adequate time to prepare successful grant applications.

Some organizations use professional grant management software that not only alerts users to upcoming grant deadlines, but also more easily keeps track of how grants are being spent. One of the best known is Grantstracker. Another excellent resource is The Foundation Center Online, which allows users to search for ideal funders and easily keep track of upcoming deadlines.

Free resources are also available. The US Government's Grants page is a massive, if somewhat bulky, grants resource for a huge variety of education programs. GrantsAlert is less extensive but easier to use. 

An easy way to keep track of grant application deadlines is to create a Google account devoted to grants only. Google Alerts allows you to get daily or weekly updates on keywords relevant to your interests (such as "robotics afterschool program grants" , "Education grants Omaha NE" , or "STEM grants K-5"). A Google Calendar allows you to categorize the grants that you are interested in, and will send you alerts for when grant applications are coming up. Even if you find out about a grant deadline that has passed, keep track of its due date so you can check back next year.

Our upcoming Conference will have many more opportunities for learning about funding trends. Sign up today!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Funding Your Afterschool Science Program Part I: Finding Grants for Afterschool Science

This is a special two part blog post on finding grants for your afterschool science program. Check back next week for a post on how to keep track of grant opportunities.

Though the economy is still recovering from the recent recession, funding is still available for education programs across the country. Government resources as well as corporate and private foundations continue to provide grants for a variety of educational purposes, including for administering and attending afterschool science programs.

The Coalition's website lists funders who have demonstrated a commitment to funding science, technology, engineering, and math education in informal and afterschool settings. The list includes government-funded entities like the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Private foundations listed include the Motorola Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and Time Warner Cable (through their Connect a Million Minds Initiative).

Professional associations often offer grants or prizes to their members or participants. The NSTA (National Science Teacher's Association) and AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) offer prizes for accomplishments in the field of informal education (as well as other areas).

If you're looking for even more granting opportunities—such as small grants to fund just portions of your program—consider joining or using one of the many grant databases that exist online. Here are some that are easy to use and extensive:

The Foundation Center lists thousands of grants that can be used for special projects, general operating funds, professional development, and more.

Grantwrangler is a searchable grant database devoted to education, and even has a specific STEM database.

The National Education Association (NEA) has a very extensive grant database. While many of the grants are for classrooms, there are many that can be applied to professional educational development as well as out-of-class time programs.

And don't forget that “funding trends” is one of the strands in our upcoming conference. Attending the conference will let you know about the latest developments in out-of-school time funding.