OutClass™ Funding Opportunities

Whether it’s just a little more help, or an entire project that needs funding, there are always avenues to help get your project off the ground. Our goal with OutClass™ is to get your project funded and built as quickly as possible. The faster we’re able to install your classroom, the sooner your students get outside and experience the first-hand benefits of outdoor learning. Today, fundraising is more competitive than ever before and it requires a sophisticated, strategic approach. Having raised millions of dollars for hundreds of projects, we offer this guide as a companion to our fundraising workshop. We hope this helps to make your dream a reality. Remember the old proverb, “the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.

New Funding Opportunities

We’ve got our ear to the ground and constantly have our eyes peeled for new funding opportunities. Often, these are time sensitive, with application deadlines, or specifically geared towards a specific type of installation. We’ll keep our list of current, “live” grant and funding opportunities up-to-date on this page along with details on their coverage and application process.

Environmental Education Grant Program

Location: Maryland

Type: Outdoor Classrooms

Deadline: December 10th, 2020

Link: https://tinyurl.com/y6grqj6k

TD Friends of the Environment

Location: Canada

Type: Environmental Education

Deadline: January 15th, 2021

Link: https://tinyurl.com/y3ebnvjj

Friends of Acadia Outdoor Classrooms

Location: Maine

Type: Outdoor Classroom

Deadline: Ongoing

Link: https://tinyurl.com/y6bdy7rn

Eight Sources for Funding

Your project will increase property value for the owner and for the surrounding homes while reducing teacher absenteeism, bullying, and vandalism as well as enriching the health, intellect, and self-worth of students. This all adds value for them. Will your project fix existing drainage issues, repair surfacing, reduce maintenance costs, or improve curb appeal? Ask about their budget for property improvements. You will need their permission regardless of whether or not they contribute.

We know, it’s a lot of work; but this is as much about building buy-in from the community and potential funders as it is about the money. This is about building your credibility across all funding platforms. Why should they invest in your project if you aren’t?

There are loads of charitable organizations that have recognized the importance of connecting children and communities to the outdoors. From TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to Trillium, to Sobeys and Home Depot, these foundations provide millions in project funding every year. Local community foundations, Rotary, Civitan, Probus, Lions, and Optimists are always looking for projects to support.

Take your project labor list and start knocking on the doors of local contractors. You will be amazed at what they will contribute if you ask. Discounted materials are as good as cash. Call your local Landscape Trades Association; local chapters are always looking for projects to help their community.

It is better to ask for advice on whom else to go to for support rather than simply asking them for their money. Building a network of support helps with all of your funding channels.

All three levels (Municipal, Provincial and Federal) have something to gain by being involved in your project, and something to lose if they are not. Make sure they understand this. Ask them to match each others’ support. Start with your local councilor and then move up the chain from there.

This is the fun bit. Just make sure there is ample water, snacks, washrooms, Band-Aids, and meaningful work available for everyone. If you have someone with a military background available for build days, which helps as well. Contact OutClass™ for a full Community Build Guidebook to help with planning.

 Large corporations have Sponsorship Directors, Green Marketing strategies, Corporate Social Responsibility Charters (ISO 26000), and Human Resources Team-building budgets. Outdoor classrooms that are completed through a community build model offer an opportunity to engage each of these departments individually or all of them in combination. Team building budgets are often funded more generously than sponsorship budgets at the local level.

Where do we Start?

Together for a big meal and decide why you are doing this. What is it about your story that makes your project stand out from any other? How is your community unique? What is the change you are looking to accomplish? What is it that will keep your core team inspired to realize your project regardless of any opposition?

In a one page brief and a ten page report outlining the need and the solution. Your story will serve as a design brief and the foundation of your fundraising strategy.

In colour and in 3D. Hire an expert with a proven track record in community-based design facilitation (as opposed to a prescriptive design process). Make sure that the project reflects the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of the site and your community. Create the ultimate dream project; do not water it down before you even begin. Remember that most of us need to be presented with a vision that we can picture ourselves in and be inspired by before we invest.

That details all materials, equipment, and labour (both skilled and unskilled) that you will need to complete the project.

You will never get this done alone (unless you are rich or superhuman). Organize your most dedicated community members as your core group, and assign tasks to team leaders. Ideally, your steering committee should consist of 4 to 9 people. Research shows that larger committees do not necessarily make better choices; they simply make them more slowly, while smaller committees fail to achieve buy-in and tend to burn out more quickly with the increased workload.

The website and social media plan will help to keep your campaign on track. It will also help you to engage more grant writers, community organizers and supporters.

For every funding stream. Often, one family will match another’s contribution, or one business will attempt to beat their competitor’s bid.

In a public ceremony where you acknowledge your major supporters and volunteers. A good rapport with donors, organizations and volunteers will go a long way in fostering lasting relationships should you require to call on them again in the future. 

A Few Key Partners in Fundraising

COVID has changed the way we will go back to school

The OutClass™ outdoor classroom system offers a natural, flexible, and pedagogically sound approach to quickly scale up your classroom capacity outside to take the pressure off your teachers and school inside.