Whether it’s just a little more help, or an entire project that needs funding, there are always avenues to help get your project off the ground. Our goal with OutClass™ is to get your project funded and built as quickly as possible. The faster we’re able to install your outdoor classroom, the sooner your students get outside and experience the first-hand benefits of outdoor learning. Today, fundraising is more competitive than ever before and it requires a sophisticated, strategic approach. Having raised millions of dollars for hundreds of projects, we offer this guide as a companion to our fundraising workshop. We hope this helps to make your dream a reality. Remember the old proverb, “the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.
New Funding Opportunities
We’ve got our ear to the ground and constantly have our eyes peeled for new funding opportunities. Often, these are time sensitive, with application deadlines, or specifically geared towards a specific type of installation. We’ll keep our list of current, “live” grant and funding opportunities up-to-date on this page along with details on their coverage and application process.
|Name of Funding Opportunity||Location||Type||For Projects||Deadline||Link to Funding Opportunity|
|No Child Left Inside||Minnesota||Outdoor Education and Recreational Programming||$5000 to $25,000||February, 24, 2022.||No Child Left Inside|
|Resilient Communities Fund||Ontario||Community Improvement||$5000 to $150,000||April 6, 2022, at 5 PM ET||Resilient Communities Fund|
|Canada Healthy Communities Initiative||Canada||Community Improvement||Opens May 14th||Canada Healthy Communities Initiative|
|California Parks Outdoor Equity Grant||California||School & Community||October 8th, 2021||California Parks Outdoor Equity Grant|
|Friends of Acadia Outdoor Classrooms||Maine||Outdoor Classroom||Ongoing||Friends of Acadia Outdoor Classrooms|
|NC Heritage Advisory Council “Go Outside” Grant||North Carolina||Outdoor Classrooms||Ongoing||NC Heritage Advisory Council “Go Outside” Grant|
|Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund||United States||Education Pandemic Relief||Ongoing||Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund|
|Community Impact/Classroom Boost Grant||Providence, RI||Outdoor Classroom||Ongoing||Community Impact/Classroom Boost Grant|
FUNDING FAQ & RESOURCES
Eight Sources for Funding
Your project will increase property value for the owner and for the surrounding homes while reducing teacher absenteeism, bullying, and vandalism as well as enriching the health, intellect, and self-worth of students. This all adds value for them. Will your project fix existing drainage issues, repair surfacing, reduce maintenance costs, or improve curb appeal? Ask about their budget for property improvements. You will need their permission regardless of whether or not they contribute.
Bake Sales, Bottle Drives, Trivia Nights
We know, it’s a lot of work; but this is as much about building buy-in from the community and potential funders as it is about the money. This is about building your credibility across all funding platforms. Why should they invest in your project if you aren’t?
Foundations and NGOs
There are loads of charitable organizations that have recognized the importance of connecting children and communities to the outdoors. From TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to Trillium, to Sobeys and Home Depot, these foundations provide millions in project funding every year. Local community foundations, Rotary, Civitan, Probus, Lions, and Optimists are always looking for projects to support.
Take your project labor list and start knocking on the doors of local contractors. You will be amazed at what they will contribute if you ask. Discounted materials are as good as cash. Call your local Landscape Trades Association; local chapters are always looking for projects to help their community.
It is better to ask for advice on whom else to go to for support rather than simply asking them for their money. Building a network of support helps with all of your funding channels.
All three levels (Municipal, Provincial and Federal) have something to gain by being involved in your project, and something to lose if they are not. Make sure they understand this. Ask them to match each others’ support. Start with your local councilor and then move up the chain from there.
This is the fun bit. Just make sure there is ample water, snacks, washrooms, Band-Aids, and meaningful work available for everyone. If you have someone with a military background available for build days, which helps as well. Contact OutClass™ outdoor classrooms, patent pending, for a full Community Build Guidebook to help with planning.
Large corporations have Sponsorship Directors, Green Marketing strategies, Corporate Social Responsibility Charters (ISO 26000), and Human Resources Team-building budgets. Outdoor classrooms that are completed through a community build model offer an opportunity to engage each of these departments individually or all of them in combination. Team building budgets are often funded more generously than sponsorship budgets at the local level.
Where do we Start?
Gather Your Community
Together for a big meal and decide why you are doing this. What is it about your story that makes your project stand out from any other? How is your community unique? What is the change you are looking to accomplish? What is it that will keep your core team inspired to realize your project regardless of any opposition
Record Your Story
In a one page brief and a ten page report outlining the need and the solution. Your story will serve as a design brief and the foundation of your fundraising strategy.
Design Your Space
In colour and in 3D. Hire an expert with a proven track record in community-based design facilitation (as opposed to a prescriptive design process). Make sure that the project reflects the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of the site and your community. Create the ultimate dream project; do not water it down before you even begin. Remember that most of us need to be presented with a vision that we can picture ourselves in and be inspired by before we invest.
Make a List
That details all materials, equipment, and labour (both skilled and unskilled) that you will need to complete the project.
Assemble a Steering Committee
You will never get this done alone (unless you are rich or superhuman). Organize your most dedicated community members as your core group, and assign tasks to team leaders. Ideally, your steering committee should consist of 4 to 9 people. Research shows that larger committees do not necessarily make better choices; they simply make them more slowly, while smaller committees fail to achieve buy-in and tend to burn out more quickly with the increased workload.
The website and social media plan will help to keep your campaign on track. It will also help you to engage more grant writers, community organizers and supporters.
Create Challenges and Set Targets
For every funding stream. Often, one family will match another’s contribution, or one business will attempt to beat their competitor’s bid.
In a public ceremony where you acknowledge your major supporters and volunteers. A good rapport with donors, organizations and volunteers will go a long way in fostering lasting relationships should you require to call on them again in the future.