Both of RFT's components, the summer experiential programs, and the academic program featuring Extralearning Online (ELO) were designed to support any Community Based Organization (CBO) or group in need of a value added partner. Since 1993 RFT has funded its operations through partnerships with schools and CBOs who received grant awards and needed programmatic content to justify their request for funding. While RFT received a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant in 2005, it operates more effectively as part of another program.
Many small nonprofits have found it challenging to apply for grants from foundations and both federal and state agencies. Their work is critical to the fiber of the local community, but the grant makers look for evidence based, measurable outcomes for much of their decisions on awarding funds. This fact along with a need to meet its "Achievement" goals in our mission statement, led RFT to add an academic module to its summer program component in 2005. It was this addition that enabled RFT to receive a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant in 2005.
Value Added Partner to Grant Applicants
RFT's strategy is to work closely with a CBO by providing the academic component along with a history of measurable outcomes validating this aspect of a grant proposal. Serving as a value added component, RFT can focus on supporting the CBO with a cost effective web based and evidence based academic program as part of the CBO's grant proposal.
The summer academic program is more costly per person, due to transportation, liability insurance, meals and lodging, activity fees, and stipends for RFT staff and local chaperons. However, RFT conducts pre and post and longitudinal surveys for each summer experience measuring the impact so the CBO can report more than the participants had a good time- see link to summer program outcomes page.
National Program Locally Managed
Both RFT summer and academic programs are designed in collaboration with the CBO adhering to jointly developed budgets for foundations. Actual management of the academic program is done locally by instructors and CBO staff with RFT providing tracking, monitoring, and reporting. Students work with local instructors at all times not RFT staff.
The summer program uses local volunteers, teachers, and CBO staff to serve as chaperons on its summer college experiences. The program agendas and on site management of each program are developed and operated by both RFT staff and the CBO.
CBO Leverages Its Programs with ELO
ELO is a customized individual learning program for each student, but it is most cost effective when operated in a group environment. RFT needs a group setting which is why these partnerships are critical to the success of the academic module. The CBO brings the student population together to participate in its ongoing activities. The academic portion using ELO leverages this attraction of the CBO to motivate students to spend additional academic time on task outside of the classroom. Thus a portion of the time the student spends with the CBO will be through an evidence based academic program and the rest is dedicated to why the students join the CBO in the first place. '
This is not unlike eating dessert after the vegetables at meals...
Summer Program Reward
The Surry, Virginia 21st Century program used the RFT summer experience as an outcome for students who participated at desired levels in their after school program activities. The program set the metrics and RFT designed a high activity innovative program at UCSD which brought industry, military, and collegiate partners together for a week justifying to the students their time spent in the program throughout the school year.
RFT costs are much higher than taking the students to the local community college, but then the strategy involves leveraging students with an outcome they might not ever receive without the additional effort required.