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Grants to Fund Your After School Program

Written by Andrea Simmons

Demand for after school programs is at an all-time high. Approximately one in four families has a child enrolled in an after school program, and many more are on waiting lists for spots as they become available. More and more kids are coming from families where both parents work or from single-parent families where parents can’t be home in the gap between when school ends and when the workday ends.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, students who participate in after school programs improve student attendance and engagement in learning, and increase test scores and grades. In fact, 1 in 3 improve math and/or English grades, and 7 in 10 improve homework completion and class participation. What’s really interesting is that an increase in the frequency and duration of after school program participation also results in higher performance rates. Outside of academic improvements, kids also benefit from better decision making, improved health, increased parent participation, and better overall behavior by participating in structured after school programs, with two of three improving their behavior in class.

With these results, why are there not more programs available to accommodate the 19 million-plus kids who are not currently placed in after school programs? One reason is funding. Federal investments are the primary source of funding for programs, and these numbers have remained relatively flat in the last five years, growing at less than 2% annually.

However, there are some sources of funding available for your after school programs.

21st Century Community Learning Center Grants
The 21st Century Learning Center Grants are the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to before school, after school, and summer learning programs. Each state education agency receives funds to distribute based on its share of Title 1 funding for low-income students at high-poverty, low performing schools. The federal government also allocates dedicated funds under this program for after school and summer learning programs run through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

These funds can fuel programs that support academic enrichment to help students perform better on state and local standardized tests. They can also support a wide range of complementary programs, such as drug and violence prevention, career and technical programs, art, music and recreation programs. Grants are awarded through the states, so you can reach out to your state contact to apply.


Private Foundation Grants
There are several private foundation grants available to fund after school programs and summer learning programs.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Mott is dedicated to making after school and summer learning programs available for every child and family who needs them. The foundation has supported programs for 80 years and its funding serves 1.6 million children across 50 states. Mott provides funds for national non-profit groups that provide support for state-wide grants and to organizations with expertise in research-based practices in STEM, music, arts, and digital media. Check out the foundation’s website for more information about the grant.

The Greg Jennings Foundation
The Greg Jennings Foundation offers a “Be Great” After School Program Grant as part of its youth initiatives. The foundation is looking to partner with and assist other organizations in educating youth by providing the necessary resources in order for them to reach their academic potential. This grant, of up to $25,000, is open to qualified non-profit organizations located in the Greater Kalamazoo and Minneapolis communities. Visit the foundation’s site for more information and to apply.

Amgen Foundation
The Amgen Foundation provides grants to organizations looking to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators. They invest in the communities where their staff live and work, making grants available in select counties of California and Massachusetts, as well as in Rhode Island and Puerto Rico. If your after school program has a STEM focus, or a strong emphasis on providing science and math learning, then you may be great fit for this program. Grants range from $10,000 to multi-million dollar awards. Learn more about this grant.


If you are looking for ways to augment your after school program and grow the available resources for homework help and academic support, you may want to look at Learning Bird. We work closely with organizers of school, library and community-based after school and summer learning programs and we can help you apply for grant funds to help support your programs. Contact us to learn more about how we can work together.

About the author

Andrea Simmons

Andrea has a lifelong love of learning and has worked in the marketing and communications field for over 20 years, helping organizations share stories and build compelling content. When not writing, Andrea can often be found weeding her garden, baking something decadent, or building new worlds out of Lego.

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