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Continuing Our Support for OST

May 10, 2012  Lena Townsend

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since we announced that the Robert Bowne Foundation will close its doors on December 31, 2015. We have achieved so much in that time!

Working with grantees and other partners, we began implementing our plan to preserve the foundation's legacy. We are:

  • Documenting and disseminating what we have learned from our years of experience in supporting OST programs; and Promoting the sustainability of our grantees by helping them to build their organizational capacity.

Our Legacy

Last spring, we engaged two teams of researchers to study and describe the Foundation's legacy—the impact of our work over the past 25 years.

The researchers are reviewing documents, observing our grantees, and talking with all our stakeholders, from board members to young OST program participants. They will develop case studies that we will share not only in written reports but also, with the help of our Legacy Planning Committee, through interactive media.

On April 10, 2012, we hosted the first event in our series The Legacy of the Robert Bowne Foundation. "What Works in Afterschool Professional Development" focused on lessons learned from the Afterschool Matters Practitioner Research Fellowships www.niost.org. Our special guests were Afterschool Matters fellows from New York, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle, who brought their fellowship experience to life by sharing their research and its effect on themselves, their colleagues, their programs, and the youth they serve.

Future topics in the series will include:

  • Building capacity
  • Partnering with grantees
  • Multi-year grantmaking
  • Support visits

Capacity Building

As part of our original plan to build OST capacity where it's needed, we wanted to focus our final three years of grantmaking on giving substantially larger grants to a smaller group of our independent community-based programs, long-term grantees that embrace our core principles. Due to the funding environment being harsh with less and less funding being available for these programs, we decided to make grants to a larger pool of our long-term grantees. These grants will be larger than our past grants but smaller than we planned.

We have also continued to fund management and programmatic professional development and technical assistance, as well as advocacy training through the Afterschool Alliance, www.afterschoolalliance.org. Grantees can continue to participate in our networking meetings and in such offerings as Hot Topics in Literacy and Learning, designed to help programs, over a six month period, to meet children's literacy needs without being more school after school.

We recently funded the Community Resource Exchange to offer the Fundraising Action Learning Series. In six sessions participants learned to diversify their funding base, tap all six components of effective fundraising, research grants; write successful grant proposals, and develop an individual donor program.

What do you think of our plan? How can the Robert Bowne Foundation use our last three years to support OST programming? Leave your comment here, or contact me at 212 792 6248 or lena.townsend@bownefoundation.org.

Looking forward to hearing from you!