According to the U.S. Department of Education, last year’s 21st CCLC grant application process was the most competitive in its history. This year’s program should be even more so. Here are some tips to help distinguish your proposal from the rest of the pack.

Characteristics of high-quality after-school programs

• Goal setting and strong management

• Quality after-school staffing

• Low staff-to-student ratios

• Attention to safety, health, and nutrition issues

• Effective partnerships

• Strong involvement of families

• Coordination with regular school day

• Links between teachers and after-school staff

• Evaluation of program progress

1999 selection criteria

• Need for project (30 points)

• Quality of project design (30 points)

• Adequacy of resources (15 points)

• Quality of management plan(15 points)

• Quality of project evaluation(10 points)

Competitive priority #1

Applications for projects that assist students to meet or exceed state or local standards in core subjects receive up to 5 extra points.

Competitive priority #2

Applications that provide substantial services to Empowerment Zones or Enterprise Communities receive preference over other applications of equivalent technical merit.

What’s different in the 1999 competition?

The competitive priority for adolescents and middle schools will not apply.

The selection criteria place increased emphasis on the quality of project design, including measurable goals and linkages with other service agencies.

Applicants must provide more explicit information about community demographics, centers to be established, and the number of children to be served.

Typical errors in 1998 applications

• 125 applications were ineligible because they were not from public schools. For example, applications from community organizations, private schools, faith-based organizations, and for-profit companies cannot be funded.

• Applications did not specify a clear vision, defined goals, or measurable objectives.

• Applications did not identify the services to be provided, the days and hours of operation, or program participants.

• Budgets were incomplete, inaccurate, or for less than $35,000.

• Programs were not school-based.

• Roles and responsibilities of community partners were not clearly stated.

• Application narratives exceeded 20 pages in length or were not double-spaced.

• Critical information–such as cover pages, assurances, contact information, or abstracts–was missing.

• Applicants submitted supplementary information that could not be considered.