How to Apply for Grants for Your Youth Sports Program

Connie Harrington on Feb 19, 2019 in Fundraising

Sports programs are wonderful assets for youth and the community. But securing enough funding each year is a challenge for many leagues. With grants, leagues can help fill financial gaps and plan for the future. Every league leader should know how to apply for grants for youth sports programs.

By pursuing grants, you can keep your sports program financially sound. Grants can also be a valuable supplement to family fundraising activities. And securing grants can ensure you can continue providing quality sports programs for local youth.

Step #1: Understand Common Types of Grant Programs

First, it’s important to know that there is not one single type of grant for youth sports programs. In fact, many grants have a very specific aim. They may, for example, focus on supporting youth sports involvement for underserved populations.

It’s likely you’re league can find relevant grants across many categories:

  1. General Grants: Some grants have a very broad focus. They aim to fund any sports recreation program that helps youth become more active.
  2. Sports Facilities Grants: These grants provide funds to build or renovate facilities–such as buildings and fields.
  3. Sports Equipment Grants: These grants cover costs for equipment–such as helmets, balls, rackets, bats, etc.
  4. Emergency Grants: These grants help organizations recover from the unexpected, such as a natural disaster or devastating financial loss.
  5. Special Populations Grants: These grants focus on programs that serve certain groups of youth. Target populations may include youth with special needs or those who are economically-disadvantaged.
  6. Sport-Specific Grants: Some organizations focus on specific sports. For example, you can find grants for baseball, football, and soccer programs. Look around, and you’re sure to find more!
  7. Regional or Local Grants: Some grants focus on developing youth sports programs in specific geographic areas.

kids participating in a youth soccer camp

When your organization needs new equipment it’s a great opportunity to put together a grant application.

Step #2: Research Grant Opportunities

Now that you have perspective on the types of grants available, you can search for good fits for your program. It’s a good idea to think about your needs today and your vision for the future.

You’ll find that many well-known companies offer grants for youth sports. Check out grant programs from Nike, Walmart, Home Depot, and Cabela’s. Non-profits and professional sports teams may have grant programs as well.

Make sure you read all the details to find out if your league meets grant criteria. It can waste your time–and the grantmakers’ time–if you aren’t qualified for the grants you seek out.

Keep a list of grant opportunities and share it with key people in your program. Be sure to include essential details like due dates and links to grant applications.

Step #3: Prepare Grant Applications

Every program is going to have a unique grant application process. In some cases, you’ll need to submit a simple online form. Others may require detailed documentation or details on current league financing or demographics. You may also need to write statements or essays that describes why your league is worthy of support.

Always think of your audience when preparing a grant application. What do they want to hear? Often, evidence of success or case studies can be very persuasive. You may be able to re-use material created for donation request letters in grant applications.

Prior to applying, make sure you have all the information you need. Socialize it with key league leaders to get buy-in if necessary. Make sure you’re well prepared ahead of the deadline, so you don’t bump into a time crunch.

You may want to seek advice from an experienced grant writer. Ask around within the league and in the community to find someone who can provide you with some guidance.

Step #4: Submit Your Applications

Aim to have all the information you need together before the grant program due date. Double and triple-check any financial statements to make sure you are accurate. Proofread written materials. You want your league to appear responsible and well-managed.

Set aside some distraction-free time to focus on your grant submission. You don’t want a small, preventable mistake to stand in the way of your league securing funding.

a group of sports volunteers

Secure a few grants and your job as a volunteer can become a walk in the park.

Learning How to Apply for Grants for Youth Sports is a Must for Every League

Along with finding sponsors for your next season you should be applying for grants that you might be eligible for.

No sports program wants to struggle with finances. Having an active focus on securing grants can help you build a thriving youth sports program.

One person in your league can research grants and track due dates. You may need to involve several people in the application process, however.

Navigating your first grant application can be tricky–but you can build on what you learn. Over time, you’ll build relationships with grantmaking organizations. You’ll know you can rely on them for funding support. And they’ll know that supporting youth sports through you league furthers their charitable mission.

This is a win-win for your league and your grantmakers. But the true winners are the youth who take part in your programs!


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