There is tremendous power in the 10.2 million children attending afterschool programs, but programs face tight budgets and limited capacity—two challenges that could be addressed through business and afterschool partnerships.
Are you interested in partnering with the business community?
1. Make a list of supplies you've purchased for your program out of your own pocket. Now, take that supply list and think of businesses that could help meet your needs. It's not about asking for help: It's about giving businesses an opportunity to contribute to a shared mission. Could a local hotel or bank donate pens, notepads or other basic supplies? Your partnership could start as a supply donation and grow into a signature event sponsorship.
2. Break silos with understanding. You may tell yourself, "I don't know how to talk to companies." Remember: Businesses are made up of individuals—fathers, mothers, caregivers. When reaching out, share your passion and give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Sincerity is powerful.
3. Provide opportunities for businesses to collaborate with you on multiple levels. Some businesses may be interested in corporate-level support; others may seek volunteer or social responsibility opportunities. Provide a menu of options; don't be afraid to start small.
4. Give local business leaders an opportunity to experience your program's mission in action. Invite company representatives to attend family nights and other special events. If we want local businesses to have a seat at the table, we must help them understand our work.
5. Never forget: Healthy children grow up to be consumers with increased earning and buying power. Advancing healthy out-of-school time has far-reaching effects, from a prosperous workforce to a strong military.
6. Create opportunities for youth to drive business strategy. Children are naturally curious and enthusiastic. Imagine if your afterschool cooking class inspired local restaurants with their healthy creations. Could local mechanics and bike shops be paired with your STEM program? Inviting guest speakers from local businesses is great. Intentionally linking business leaders with your students is even better!
To create healthier communities, we must give businesses the opportunity to co-own our stake in helping children thrive. How are you collaborating with the business community? Tweet me your ideas—let's keep the conversation going.
Contributed by Daniel W. Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Alliance is lauded among NAA's Most Influential in Health and Wellness 2017. Daniel.Hatcher@healthiergeneration.org | @hatchdw
This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of AfterSchool Today, the official publication of the National AfterSchool Association.