March 20, 2019

Grant Writing 101 | Unification and Collaboration to Serve More

This is the second of three posts in our Grant Writing Blog Series. Forming strategic partnerships is one of the best ways of creating new funding streams. Which community organizations align with your work, and how can partnerships assist you?

By Cash Knight | 

When the partnership between Ogden School District (OSD), YMCA, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis (BGCWD) began, the goal was to combine our resources to serve more students. In the Ogden area, there are thousands of youth members who have a high need for quality afterschool programming. When the partnership began, we were all operating as organizational silos. Everyone was offering a variety of different afterschool programs, but we found that we were all missing key elements that others could help provide. Thus the partnership process began, and we began meeting regularly to ask ourselves a fundamental question: “How can we better serve our community?” Some of the first benefits we saw from this partnership came through training and communication between the parties that had been nonexistent prior. Ogden School District brought in some of their amazing partners and employees to help us train our staff on behavior management and best practices for child care.


We immediately saw a benefit to our staff not only in their site structure but also in their ability to contact key people who could provide education and insight on unique situations they were facing. As time went on, the partnership became stronger. Group trainings with the YMCA, BGCWD, and OSD became a consistent norm and our staff quickly began to grow and become more proficient in their programming.  The next step was to continue unifying the groups. This was done through a district wide Memorandum of Understanding that included our three organizations and the resources and responsibilities each of us could provide. As the partnership grew, we were able to combine programs that OSD was running after school with the programs that YMCA and BGCD were providing. With this, we began to unify the clubs and the afterschool district programs in a way that combined funding and data for the benefit of all programs.


After all of these partnerships were created, spelled out, and evaluated, we developed the After-School Collective Team (ACT) to continue our vision of working together in an effort to provide an optimal afterschool experience for all youth who needed us. Following this, we began the discussion of new funding as a team. This partnership allowed us to write new grants that were previously unavailable to us as individual organizations. Through combining our efforts, programs, and expertise we were able to write grants with a renewed collaborative strength that looked different from any that had been submitted in the past. Upon receiving these grants, the partnerships have continued to grow and the goal of continuous improvement is ongoing and carries great potential. As a team, we have unified our data collection in a way that creates a nearly seamless blending of all the programs in singular cohesive units. As an entire ACT team, we meet several times a month to assess program quality, training needs, and upcoming requirements that involved all of us as partners.


The process of creating these partnerships and combining these programs has not been without challenges. We have all had to come to the table with our egos down and our hearts open to becoming better and growing. At times, this partnership has challenged all of us to change the way we have been doing things and to admit that we are not always the best in every area that encompasses afterschool programming and youth mentoring. Through many hours and a great deal of effort, we have been able to combine our endeavors in ways that improve our programs at every level -- both in quality and opportunities that are available to our youth. Bringing this partnership to fruition has not been easy, but it has been worth it. We are better together and have the opportunity to seek far more funding as a group than we ever could as individual entities.

Cash Knight is the Operations Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis.