Leverage Inquiry in the Community
Find funding for your program quality improvement work - by finding funding for Inquiry in the Community! STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is a major area of need for youth, and many funders are committed to improving informal science learning opportunities.
We recommend looking for the following organizations to build collaborations and find funding:
Colleges and Universities
The academic world brings significant amounts of expertise, resources (like meeting spaces and volunteers), and community connections to the table. Collaborating with faculty on science education research projects or outreach also provides an avenue to grants and funding typically used by researchers.
Start by building relationships with one office in your local university. Try connecting with…
- The community engagement or service learning center
- Science education faculty (or, look for faculty specializing in lifelong, informal, or free choice learning)
- Science and engineering departments with outreach programs
- Science and engineering student groups, such as Society of Women Engineers, Physics Club, or a Pre-Health Club.
Like any collaboration, look for connections between your needs and faculty members' needs. Many grants require faculty to share their results beyond their own research community. A creative partnership with a science researcher may enable you to tap into this "broader impacts" funding.
Finally, consider starting with smaller colleges and universities. Large research universities can be complex to navigate, and faculty members are more often research-focused. Smaller colleges and universities with an emphasis on teaching and service to the community can be a better fit for collaborations with youth organizations.
Business and Industry
STEM companies reap the benefits of a skilled and diverse workforce. As such, they are often committed to funding science education programs that target diverse audiences - including women and girls, youth in rural areas, and underrepresented demographics.
Start by targeting local companies (those with a presence only in, or primarily in, your council). Companies with a multi-council or national presence will require a more thoughtful, coordinated effort with other councils and/or Girl Scouts of the USA. Good relationship management and fund development principles apply. Build the relationship first; ask for advice and brainstorm ways to tackle this local workforce development issue together. Funding will emerge over time as you identify mutual needs and resources.
Companies also have resources at their disposal beyond dollars. Their employees will often volunteer to mentor the next generation of scientists, and your partnership will highlight Girl Scouts to this potential audience of new members. They may have organizational expertise (like HR, finance, or organizational development) that your council needs. Or, they may be able to provide in-kind donations that really impact your bottom line.
It's also worth tapping into your local professional associations. Groups like Society of Women Engineers, Association of Women in Science, American Association of University Women and others want to provide connections and networking for their members while inspiring the next generation - a series or an event in the making.
Grants and Foundations
Small grants for science education initiatives are more prevalent. We suggest getting on the mailing lists for these organizations, since they publicize grant opportunities:
- National Girls Collaborative Project
- Coalition for Science After School (through 2014)
- National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
- Afterschool Alliance
If you decide to target a funder that has a regional or national reach, be sure to partner with another council and/or GSUSA. One council applying for funding to implement Inquiry in the Communityis nice; multiple councils have serious impact.