Community programs for youth are funded in a variety of ways. The funding structure of a program often relates directly to the institution that administers it (for example, if it is administered by a public or private agency), but in most cases programs patch together funding from many sources. The nature of program funding affects its design and stability, which in turn affect the extent to which it can promote developmental outcomes. Is the program public, private, or quasi-public? Who funds it? What is the annual program budget? What are the primary sources of money? If these sources are public, how much is federal, state, and local? For public sources, what is the funding by sector (e.g., health—including mental health and physical health—education, labor, justice, and agriculture)? If privately funded, is the funding primarily from philanthropies (e.g., foundations, United Way, a local business/service organization), membership dues (e.g., Boy Scouts), or user fees? Is funding stable over time or is it short-term temporary funding that must be raised from new sources periodically?
Programs face a variety of challenges related to funding. YouthBuild, for example, has been involving young people in leadership development and job training through housing rehabilitation since 1978. The program has grown from 10 to 4,600 participants and has received funding from a variety of sources, including Congress, federal agencies, and foundations. Because funds can fluctuate dramatically, they have also initiated local fundraising in order to increase the sustainability of local programs (Dahlstrom, 1998).
Smaller autonomous organizations are particularly affected by the challenges of funding development and funding management, since the smaller the organization, the more likely it is that the program and administrative functions are inextricably linked. In interviews with 26 grassroots youth programs, service practitioners indicated that the time and resources devoted to fundraising represent their biggest administrative burden (Quern and Raider, 1998).
There is great variation from program to program in the kind of funding they are able to secure and maintain. The sources of funding affect a program’s stability, as well as its ability to serve young people whose families cannot afford to pay fees.
The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (1998) reported that after-school programs cost from $600 to $1,000 per child per year in their region. They