Today childcare centers are gaining importance as a profitable business. Many people are seeking advice to obtain grants to start their own childcare center, expand their program, or upgrade their facilities.
One way to locate financing for your childcare business is to:
Check with your local bank
Research and obtain venture capital
Seek gifts and loans from family and friends
Look for advice from incubator organizations
Obtain counsel from local small business and women’s associations
In a few states, special loan programs have been developed to help childcare centers access immediate funds at affordable rates, like Washington and Oregon’s Cascadian Child Care Fund.
Independent childcare business owners can also try the Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, a service of The Foundation Center at http://www.fdncenter.org. For a small fee per month (payable by credit card), the Foundation Center offers online listings of Grants to Individuals in the U.S.
Requesting Guidelines and Applications
Once you have completed your initial research and found potential grant funding, the next step involves contacting them and request their latest application and funding guidelines. If the program is operated by a foundation, also request their annual report. It is a good idea to view some common grant applications online so you know what to look for when your information comes in.
Grant/Funding Information Processing
Once you have received various funding information packets and applications, read them carefully and make notes about specific guidelines. Review which of the funding opportunities are available for a childcare center and whether your business plan fits their criteria. Examples of information you would find on a funding information packet would be: the type of program for which funding is available, eligibility requirements, location and populations served, and application deadlines, and so on.
Contact Funding Agencies Directly
Funding guidelines and applications can be quite extensive. While reviewing the guidelines and application, make notes of any questions you may have. Most funding agencies will assist you in completing your application for funding, and will appreciate that you have taken the time to get all the facts before submitting your proposal. Funding proposals are often set aside and not reviewed due to incomplete information, therefore it is critical to review your application to ensure you have met all the eligibility requirements and submitted all the necessary paperwork.
Prepare Your Cover Letter and Proposal
A cover letter is usually required with each proposal submitted. Again, check the guidelines of the funding agencies. Each agency will have different paperwork requirements.
Don’t Give Up
The best advice you can receive as you begin your quest for funding for your childcare center is not to become discouraged. Funding agencies typically receive a lot more proposals than they fund. So apply to more than one funding organization, and follow each organization’s instructions very carefully as to what they want in a proposal, and you will have a much better chance of obtaining funding for your childcare center.