February 12, 2016
By Jonathan Rondeau, President & CEO, Family League of Baltimore; Sheryl Goldstein, Managing Director, Programs and Grants, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; and Gena O'Keefe, Senior Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
In August of 2014 community partners, funders, families, and youth were all transitioning from summer programs that had served over 22,000 students. While the attention shifted to the school year, three funders, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Family League of Baltimore, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation were beginning discussions about the similarities and differences between each organization’s summer grantmaking process. Realizing we were asking similar questions and that we could strengthen our process by learning from each other, we decided to draft and issue a common application for summer funding in 2015. The goals of this collaboration were to:
· Increase access for low-income, Baltimore City children to summer learning opportunities through coordination of resources
· Create common funding processes and requirements that yield standardized system level data
· Create a common definition of quality for summer learning programs
· Promote inclusion of children with disabilities in summer learning programs
To meet these goals we set up a schedule of weekly phone calls, scheduled clear action items and deliverables, and created a Dropbox resource folder where everyone could share their RFPs, reports, and rubrics from the previous summer. As three organizations with different priorities, identifying how we would preserve our individual funding priorities while using a common application and rubric was a challenge. In the end we solved it by creating a common rubric with standard definitions for scoring each question, and then applying weights to individual questions and sections based on the priorities of the funder.
The 2015 Summer Funding Collaborative was successful. We received 114 applications and funded 77 organizations that served over 10,000 Baltimore City youth. We were able to use the data we obtained through this joint process to map programs throughout Baltimore City, and coordinate efforts to increase funding in specific neighborhoods. We also created a common application, scoring rubric, report, and site visit protocol. Programs funded reported over 80% average daily attendance and an increase in the number of programs including and supporting youth with disabilities.
In Summer 2016, nine organizations are participating in the Collaborative and the application process is now open and can be found at www.aecf.org/summergrants. This partnership is a model for how funders can align resources and grantmaking processes to create more summer learning opportunities for all Baltimore’s youth. If you are interested in participating in the Summer Funding Collaborative next year, or would like to align your reporting or site visit process this summer please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.