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Frequently Asked Questions

The questions (and answers) in this section focus mainly on eligibility requirements and our grant review process.

Refer to the contracts section for any questions regarding your YouthReach Initiative contract.

Who is eligible to apply to the YouthReach Initiative?
To be eligible for YouthReach applicants must:

  • Be a cultural organization or an organization with a strong history in the proposal's primary discipline (arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences)
  • Be incorporated in Massachusetts as a nonprofit
  • Have tax-exempt status under IRS Section 501(c)(3)

Applicants must also have collaborators which may be:

  • Cultural organizations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Other organizations providing services to the project

Schools are not eligible for YouthReach grants, and YouthReach funds cannot be used for programs that take place in a school during the school day.

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When is the application due?
Applications for new requests for funding are due January 18, 2018. Applications for continued funding through Youthreach are due May 1, 2018.

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Is YouthReach designed specifically for urban youths?
Certainly not. YouthReach is designed for young people at risk of not making a successful transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Across the Commonwealth, this can and does include a wide range of needs. From the pressing need of lessening youth crime in the inner city to breaking down the isolation and alienation of life in rural Massachusetts, each setting has unique strengths to build on and challenges to overcome.

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How much is a typical YouthReach grant?
Current grants are $15,000 per year. YouthReach grants must be matched.

Future grant amounts will be determined by the money available and the number of projects funded.

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Is my summer program or vacation-week intensive a good match for YouthReach?
Probably not. Typically, programs in which an individual young person is enrolled for only a short period of time are not very successful against the YouthReach criteria. This is in line with the emphasis on encouraging mastery in a discipline (something hard to do in a week or even four weeks), and with the emphasis on funding programs that meet the developmental needs of participating young people. Programs based on a positive youth development approach tend to encourage sustained, long-term involvement by participating young people, offering them expanding opportunities as they progress. Developing supportive, meaningful relationships between individuals, another key aspect of positive youth development programs, takes time, as does meaningful youth leadership within a program.

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Can you explain what you mean by a “positive youth development” program?
"Positive youth development" refers to a specific and intentional way of working with young people. Positive youth development refers to both a philosophy and an approach. Key themes in positive youth development include focusing on positive youth outcomes, balancing services, opportunities and supports and ensuring youth participation — real decision making power.

For more information, visit Key Characteristics of Creative Youth Development Programs.

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Who should my collaborators be?
There is no single answer to this question. It really depends on the strengths and needs of the applicant organization, the young people with whom the program is designed, and the context and community in which you are working. The most effective programs operate as part of a network. Whether formally through coalitions and other vehicles, or informally through relationships and natural alliances, the most effective programs coordinate with other organizations and efforts within the community. What organizations you should enlist as collaborators depends on what partners you need to better meet the holistic needs of the young people.

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Can a school apply for YouthReach funding?
Schools are ineligible, and YouthReach funds cannot be used for programs that take place in a school during the school day.

Schools can participate as a collaborator, but generally speaking, a school should not be the primary community partner. If a school is interested in being part of a YouthReach application, they should carefully review the guidelines and then contact the YouthReach Program Manager.

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How are applications reviewed?
Once the applicant hits “Submit” and the electronic application is submitted, staff reviews it for eligibility and appropriateness. Ineligible applications and those that are not a good fit by this staff review will be eliminated from further consideration. The remaining applications are then distributed electronically to the reviewers.

The YouthReach panel review process takes place through the spring. The state budget process that determines the Mass Cultural Council's appropriation for the new fiscal year ends usually in late June/early July. Once the Mass Cultural Council has received its appropriation, the staff organizes all the YouthReach Initiative panels' recommendations in the context of the agency's available funds. These recommendations go to the Mass Cultural Council board for review and approval in late-August. Applicants are notified of their funding status in early September.

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Who are the panelists?
Panelists are administrators, artists, humanists, scientists, and youth development specialists who represent diverse geographic, ethnic, philosophical and aesthetic perspectives and have no conflicts of interest with applicants or collaborators. We welcome new panelist nominations.

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What role do site visits play in the review process?
Site visits play a critical role by providing one of the panelists with direct, in-person contact with your program, your people, your space, and your community. On the site visit, the panelist is looking for evidence to document the degree to which the proposed program aligns with the YouthReach review criteria. Information and impressions from the site visit are brought to the full panel during their review.

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Why won't the site visitor attend my final showcase, performance, or other culminating event?
Past unsuccessful applicants, current grantees, and panelists concur--visiting a program during a normal working session is more informative than attending a final event. As exciting as the showcase events always are, seeing the process in action is more useful in understanding the relationships, the teaching practices, and the philosophies on which the proposed program is built.

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How do I get an application?
YouthReach in an online application process. Be sure, however, to read the guidelines and application instructions before beginning the online process.

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What if I have more questions?
If you have further questions, contact the YouthReach Program Manager.

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