Report highlights unique methods of funding youth programs

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3 min read

Today, the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab and The Children’s Funding Project released their new collaborative report Innovative Financing to Expand Programming and Services So Children Can Thrive Final. The report highlights 10 innovative methods to finance children’s services, giving communities a roadmap to ensuring their youth programming is expansive, effective, and well-funded.

With the federal government receding from its leadership role, a “New American Localism” has emerged with community leaders taking the initiative to prioritize the needs of children by leveraging new resources to expand support services, from early childhood education to mental health services.

“We’ve been talking to mayors and policy-makers for years — the common refrain is that they have the will, just not the way to fund their next generation,” said Amelia Vaughn, project manager at The Children’s Funding Project and lead author of the report. “We developed this policy brief to highlight some of the more unique and effective methods of financing youth programs and services.”

The 10 strategies featured in the report include local dedicated funds, community benefit agreements, PILOT recaptures, and more. For each strategy, the report gives an in-depth overview, potential challenges, and examples of communities that have been successful. At the end of the brief is a chart to help readers weigh each method’s potential impact and the difficulty associated with implementation of the strategy.

“America lags many industrialized nations on investments in the well-being of children and families. It is exciting to see so many local officials willing to put their political capital on the line to raise new resources to meet the needs of their citizens,” said Jennifer Davis, senior advisor at the Education Redesign Lab. “When communities take matters into their own hands, it is amazing what can happen.”

This is the second collaborative report the Education Redesign Lab and The Children’s Funding Project have released this year. In July, the two organizations published Children’s Cabinet Toolkit: A Roadmap for Getting Started in Your Community. The report equips mayors and other municipal leaders with practical information and resources to launch a children’s cabinet in their own communities.

“So many leaders are now eager to build new systems of support and opportunity for their community’s children, but what they often lack is the guidance and tools to successfully finance these efforts.  This report fills that void and should enable this movement to surge forward,” said Paul Reville, the Francis Keppel Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and founder of the Education Redesign Lab.

“Closing the equity gap among America’s youth is a problem that requires both community resolve and innovative solutions,” said Elizabeth Gaines, founder and director of The Children’s Funding Project. “We want communities around the country to have the tools they need to prioritize and fund their kids. This report is another step in that direction. At the end of the day, it’s what gets budgeted, that gets done.”

For more information, visit Education Redesign Lab and Children’s Funding Project, or contact Policy and Communications Associate Shane Linden at