Top Six Bridge Program Funding Tips

Top Six Bridge Program Funding Tips

Bridge programs in the summer or winter are effective ways to keep students engaged while helping them refresh academic and personal development needed for college success.

There are many examples of summer bridge and winter melt programs, all with the same goal – to help retain students and ensure their continued success. Now that you have decided on having one, how do you fund one?

Here are six things you should definitely have in place.

  1. Connect with Local Foundations. Often, your institution will align with foundations or organizations interested in student success. Go to your grant offices to see what is available and funders who have funded your institution before.
  2. Write a Short Concept Paper. A two-page executive summary may help funders understand the bridge program goals and audience. Be prepared to answer questions like – What is the problem you are trying to solve? How will you solve it? How do you measure success and impact? What is the overall timeline? Budget? Operational staffing needs? Write it in such a way that if it lands on someone’s desk, they immediately get what you are trying to do.
  3. Talk to Leaders in Your Institution. There may be grant dollars, resources, organizations, initiatives, that may complement your bridge program idea and could help fund some of your needs. Plus, it never hurts to network around!
  4. Expand/Extend an Existing Program. If you already have funding for an existing program, check to see if that program can be extended to fund a bridge program. Since the funders have already invested, it would not be a stretch for them to add more and they have been through the internal, institutional red tape!
  5. Be Bold in Your Ask and Be Prepared! Funders like to see creativity, impact, and confidence. Approach them, whether in person, on paper, through influencers. Be confident that this bridge program will indeed make a difference and you are looking to scale and learn from it. Preparation will demonstrate confidence and funders will feel safer investing in what you want to do.
  6. Factor Time into the Equation. If you want a bridge program, you need to look for funding at least 3-6 months in advance. It is not likely you will find funds in weeks, but months. If you want a summer bridge program for 2019, the time is now.