Funding and implementing FAST without a community partner

The majority of FAST® Program implementations involve a partnership between a school and a community-based organization or social-service agency. The organization administers funding, handles FAST-related administrative tasks such as distributing the evaluations, and typically provides a team member, the Community Partner. The first six posts in this blog series have focused on building these partnerships, but what if one fails to materialize? What are the next steps to get your FAST implementation off the ground?

Here are a few of the options available to you:

Don’t Give Up

While FAST can be funded without a Community Partner—one example is the implementation run by the Department of Family & Community Services in Albuquerque, New Mexico—the relationship goes beyond who pays for the program. “Most schools work with community partners, not only for the funding, but also to help take the lead as the FAST Coordinator or champion within the community,” said Kelly Hook, Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships at Families & Schools Together, Inc. “While some schools may secure the funding themselves, they would then need to rely on a staff person, such as a Family Engagement Coordinator or Liaison, to spearhead the logistics. And, we know that most schools face a shortage of resources: staff, money, and time. In essence, the community partner is just as valuable to help secure the money as to help get FAST up and running within a school or community.”

If you made a connection with someone within a community organization but a partnership didn’t form, be sure to maintain the relationship. Just because a partnership didn’t materialize now doesn’t mean the door is closed forever. Every three to six months, reach out to your contact, and keep them in the loop about your school’s successes, programs that you plan to implement, or anything that may be relevant to them.

Use Your Existing Resources

If you’ve been implementing the recommendations in this series, the hard work you’ve already done can be repurposed as you search for funding beyond community partnerships. Your ability to articulate your school’s story, the outcomes you want to achieve, and why FAST is your chosen solution, are assets as you apply for grants or seek out funds on your own. Some communities may even have a local school foundation that they can tap into.

Access FAST Staff and Materials

Families & Schools Together, Inc. is the organization behind the FAST Program, and it employs a Development Team who can share their expertise with you. “We are available to help you at every step along the way,” said Kelly. “Our organization can provide information about FAST program structure, implementation, and outcomes. We can also provide recommendations and advice on gathering your community and school partners. And we can assist with developing a program budget as well as identifying and approaching funders.”

Another resource is the FAST Funding Guide. Written by the Development Team, the guide is designed to help you research and secure funding for a non-profit organization or school. “The Funding Resource Guide is such a valuable resource because it demonstrates a variety of relevant examples for how FAST can be implemented and funded across vastly diverse communities,” said Kelly. It provides:

  • A list of possible funders, including foundations and corporations, in-kind donations, government funds, and umbrella funding sources.
  • Advice about identifying, selecting, and organizing grant opportunities as well as a description of the process for securing funds to implement FAST.
  • Descriptions of funding domains for which FAST qualifies, including substance abuse prevention, early childhood/early learning, and child and adolescent mental health.
  • A compilation of Frequently Asked Questions about funding FAST, including costs, sustainability, outcomes, and guidance about how to approach a funder.

Securing the funds and resources to implement FAST may take a while, but don’t be discouraged. Multiple funding options exist, and one will be the right fit for your school or non-profit organization. We are available to help you through this process; or, if you’ve already secured funding, we’d love to hear about your success!