How to Apply for Grants for Your Youth Sports Program

Connie Harrington

Youth sports programs are important for kids and the community as a whole. But securing enough funding each year is a challenge for many leagues.

Nonprofit grants can help sports leagues find financial assistance to grow and plan for the future. Every youth sports leader should know how to apply for grants for their organization each year.

Grants can be a valuable supplement to annual fundraising activities and help keep your sports program on track financially.

How to you research, apply, and receive youth sports grants? We've got some tips in this post to get started before your next season.

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    Step #1: Understanding Different Types of Grant Programs

    First, it’s important to know that there are many types of grants for athletic programs. In fact, most grants have a very specific aim. They may, for example, focus on supporting youth sports involvement for underserved populations, building new sports facilities, or supporting the growth of a particular sport.

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

    Regional or Local Grants

    Some grants have a very broad focus. They aim to fund any program that supports kids.

    It's important to search locally in your area for business and nonprofits that provide grant opportunities. You may find grant programs like the AEI Heritage Fund that supports youth sports in Bartholomew County, IN.

    Sports Facilities Grants

    These grants provide funds specifically for buildings, fields, gyms, and more. Communities or cities may provide grants to build or renovate sports complexes.

    Make sure to research in your region to see if funding is available to rehab or build new sports facilities.

    Sports Equipment Grants

    Sourcing and maintaining equipment can be one of the biggest challenges for youth sports volunteers. Equipment grants can be a big help go get new equipment when your organization needs it.

    Programs like Good Sports and Sports Matter help provide equipment, apparel, and footwear specifically for youth sports.

    Emergency Grants

    These grants help organizations recover from the unexpected, such as a natural disaster or devastating financial loss.

    If your organization has had a significant negative event that has damaged facilities or impacted registration be sure to look for grant opportunities that target disaster recovery.

    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.

    If you think your organization may qualify for special grants based on the circumstances of your community or players, be sure to do research.

    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!

    When your organization has a specific need, like new equipment, it's a great time to put together grant applications.

    Step #2: Research Grant Opportunities for Your Organization

    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 NikeWalmartHome 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 grant provider’s 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 Your 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 specific uses for the funds can be very important. 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. Share 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.

    Step #4: Submit Applications and Track Results

    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.

    Keeping Your Board Accountable With Youth Sports Grant Applications

    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 should be responsible for researching grants, tracking due dates of applications. You may need to involve several people on your board involved in writing letters, submitting applications, and following up with decision makers.

    Navigating your first grant application can be tricky–but you can build on what you learn. Over time, you’ll build relationships with grant-making 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-win for your league, the grant providers, and the kids that play at your organization.

    Additional Resources

    The Best Tools for Nonprofit Youth Sports Organizations

    How to Find Companies That Sponsor Youth Sports

    How to Increase Youth Sports Participation in Your Community

    4 Creative Youth Sports Fundraising Ideas

    Finding Volunteers for Your Sports Organization