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4 Tips for Afterschool Program Cultivation

Whether your 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) program is funded for the foreseeable future or not, it can still be a challenge to expand on current program offerings or keep lights on due to budgetary limitations.

With some creativity and even some fundraising efforts, however, it's possible to not only expand current offerings but also plan for future program offerings.

Here are some ways Cayen Systems AfterSchool21 Data Management Software customers are successful in cultivating their 21CCLC program while staying within reasonable budgetary boundaries.

Form lasting partnerships within the community.

Many afterschool programs are able to supplement 21CCLC grants by forming and maintaining partnerships with local businesses, parents and sometimes prominent local families. With businesses especially, these partnerships are mutually beneficial because contributions can be tied to advertising opportunities, as with any type of sponsorship. Reaching out to these types of potential donors can add tremendous value to your program.

Don't duplicate the school day.

While educators might be faced with time constraints, unsure of how to find additional time to create new types of activities, it's important to provide help and support for students beyond their normal school day. This means afterschool activities should not be treated as an opportunity for students to have a "do-over" of their school day, but rather a chance to expand on the things they already learned and have a deeper interest in.

For example, students who are interested in biology might benefit from an opportunity to spend more time performing a multitude of experiments in the science lab. This is particularly helpful in schools with larger classes, where such an opportunity is not always present. Not only does this help students explore their passions, it can also help them be more prepared for higher education by creating a stronger knowledge base.

Offer support to staff members.

Many teachers work long days and might not have time to plan additional activities for afterschool programs. Yet additional support such as planning hours can go a long way to creating and adding value to afterschool programs. Additionally, simple things such as providing supplies for activities—pencils, notebooks, computers and lab materials—can also add value. While most programs already have computers, funds could be used to buy additional software and perform routine maintenance, extending computer lives and functionality. Of course, there are many other ways to utilize these funds depending on the needs of each program.

Prove the value.

Perhaps one of the most important pieces of ensuring 21CCLC grants are funded in perpetuity is proving the value of the program. If program managers can prove their afterschool programs help students have more fulfilling educational experiences overall or help improve grades through extended learning opportunities, they will be more likely to be awarded more grant money in the future.

Finding new ways to manage data for afterschool programs can help create more consistency with record-keeping while cutting down on time spent manually managing this data. Afterschool program software is one way to help staff members maintain impeccable records, which goes a long way toward proving the value of an afterschool program.

Programs all over the nation have an incredible opportunity to improve the lives of students in their respective communities, whether through extended learning opportunities or a higher level of adult supervision. This vitally important initiative has already helped countless students and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Contributed by Cayen Systems AfterSchool21 Data Management Software. For more information on how afterschool program software can help cultivate the best possible programs, contact Cayen Systems AfterSchool21 at 425.977.2120 or request a demo. Cayen Systems was built as a custom app for an afterschool program and has an 18-year history of providing outstanding web-based data management, including customization, live-support and alignment with 21APR.