A continual barrage of cuts to Michigan school budgets have made it more difficult for schools to afford cultural enrichment programs and school assemblies for their students. While funding for school arts programs may no longer be readily available from the state, there are still other sources for funding these programs, which provide students with important exposure to art, music and cultural experiences.
Grants to help schools pay for assembly programs are available from several state and national organizations. It is best if one volunteer in your school can be put in charge of researching and applying for the grants. The grant applications can range from simple one page forms to requiring the submission of a formal grant proposal, so good writing skills will be needed. It will also require someone who is willing to dedicate a minimum of 5-7 hours for research and writing.
Available grants can change from year to year and month to month. The best place to begin research is on the internet. You can try a broach search, such as “Michigan school grants”, but you may find more success in looking for more specific program grants. If you want to bring in a reading program to your school, try searching for “Reading program grants” or if you wanted a bully prevention program, you may search for “Funding for Michigan bully prevention programs”. Many times, there is less competition for specific grants.
One source of school assembly program grants many years has been through The Michigan Arts and Humanities Council. This nonprofit organization publishes a directory of Michigan touring arts presenters that offer performances and workshops to Michigan schools. They have a variety of programs, from dance and music to theatre presenters. Any Michigan school can apply for partial funding for a program by any of the presenters in the directory. These grants pay up to 40% of the booking fee. You can request a directory and grant application through the Council. These grants have very specific application instructions, so be sure your school completes the application completely and submits the finished application by the deadline.
Many Michigan arts organizations, such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Institute of Arts have in-house grants and discount programs available to Michigan schools with a lot of underprivileged students. This can mean discounted admissions, special educational programs, and (in some cases) even funding for transporting students to the programs. A simple phone call to these organizations to ask about financial assistance to your school may open up fantastic opportunities to your students.
Your school may not have to even look outside your community to find funding for enrichment programming. Asking local businesses to sponsor assembly programs can provide full or partial funding for assembly fees. Offer several sponsorship levels, to fit the budget of most businesses. Most businesses could afford a $25 donation, but maybe only a few would be willing to commit $100+. In exchange for sponsorship, offer thanks to the sponsors in your school newsletter or arrange for a poster with the names of sponsors to be displayed in school all year.