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Program Guidelines - FY16

YouthReach is not currently accepting applications. These program guidelines are for reference only.

Program Description
The goal of the YouthReach initiative is to promote integration of substantive out-of-school arts, humanities, and science opportunities into a collaborative community response to the needs of young people – specifically those at risk of not making a successful transition to young adulthood.  Those facing this risk include, but are not limited to, young people with disabilities, school dropouts, young people victimized by violence, court-involved youth, pregnant or parenting teens, and youth living in economically depressed areas.

YouthReach supports innovative programs that:

  • Provide young people with in-depth arts, humanities, or science experiences that simultaneously pursue excellence and youth development

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the needs of participating young people and their communities

  • Provide young people an opportunity to interact directly with practicing professionals in their field

  • Are assets-based and believe in the capacity of all young people to create

  • Marshal the resources of the community to foster substantive cross sector collaboration to support art making as a vital tool for youth and community development

Eligibility Requirements
The primary applicant for a YouthReach project must be:

  • A cultural organization with a strong programming history in the proposed project’s primary discipline (arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences);

  • Incorporated in Massachusetts as a non-profit organization; and

  • Current in its tax-exempt status under IRS Section 501(c)(3).

Grant Amounts
Successful applicants receive three-year grants to support activities that take place between July 2015 and June 2018. Applicants should request grants of $11,000/year.  All awards are contingent upon the MCC's allocation and receipt of sufficient funds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts

Matching Requirements
All YouthReach grants must be matched. First-cycle grants can be matched with cash and in-kind support. However, in-kind goods and services may not exceed 50 percent of the match. "In-kind" refers to a donation of goods or services. Any goods or services that you do not have to pay for are considered in-kind. Free rehearsal space, donated supplies or pro bono consultant work are examples of in-kind goods and services. Staff time on this project paid for by the primary applicant should be listed as cash match; staff time on the project paid for by a collaborating organization is an in-kind donation. Funds raised by a collaborating organization specifically for the project constitute a cash match.

For second-cycle and all other continued support grants, the MCC requires a cash-only match.

The match requirements vary according to how long a project has been funded through YouthReach:

Project CycleMatch Requirement
First-cycle projects (Years 1 and 2 of YouthReach funding)1:1 (up to 50% in-kind)
Second-cycle projects (Years 3 and 4 of funding)1:1 (cash)
Third-cycle projects and beyond (Year 5+ of funding) 2:1 (cash)

Review Criteria
Below are the criteria that review panels use to evaluate YouthReach proposals.  Be sure to rely on them as you craft your complete application.

YouthReach proposals will be reviewed using the following criteria on a 100-point scale:

  • Community need and participation
  • Program Design
  • Program Evaluation
  • Fiscal Management

Documented need among the young people for whom this program is designed and documented lack of access to similar opportunities within this community for these young people.

  1. Application documents that the participants are at particular risk of not making a successful transition from adolescence to young adulthood because they face challenges such as violence in their homes or neighborhoods, poverty, immigration status, disability, or mental illness. (New applicants should document the challenges and risk factors for intended participants. Returning applicants should document the challenges and risk factors for current participants.)

  2. Beyond the proposed program, participants lack support and resources in their homes and communities; few other arts/humanities/science or social service resources are accessible to this target population.

  3. There are no barriers to program participation for at-risk youth such as prohibitive participation fees or lengthy or intimidating application or audition processes. Solutions have been found to address transportation and turf issues. Participation is not limited to highly talented or easily engaged youth.

Evidence that the broader community is involved in responding to the needs of the participating young people.

  1. The program is working to change the way the community views and thinks about vulnerable young people and the ability of the arts, humanities, and sciences to build a more positive and livable community.

  2. The project coordinates appropriately with other youth-serving, cultural, and other community organizations and/or efforts within the community.

  3. Appropriate partners or collaborators are actively recruited and involved in meeting the needs of the young people, especially in terms of arts, humanities, or science learning and/or personal development.

Evidence that the staff, collaborators, and program design will provide young people with in-depth, high-quality arts, humanities, and/or science experiences that are designed to encourage mastery of the discipline through the development of skills and through hands-on exploration and discovery.

  1. Instructors have strong credentials in their discipline (present their work, are respected within their field, have appropriate training in their discipline) and as educators (have significant experience as educators with the target population, demonstrate pedagogical skills that fuse arts, humanities, or science learning and youth development).

  2. Instructional design of the program fosters accomplishment and mastery of a singular discipline or medium or, in the case of multidisciplinary programs, mastery of the creative process and/or discovery through exploration.

  3. Youth are given high-quality materials and appropriate space in which to work.

  4. Youth develop their own creative, analytical, and/or scientific practice and voice or point of view.

  5. Youth engage in creative inquiry; they are encouraged to experiment and discover and to ask questions and solve problems within the discipline.

  6. Youth learn to effectively critique their own work and the work of others.

  7. Program design includes culminating events - opportunities to work toward a deadline, present work to others, and receive feedback.

  8. Program design includes opportunities for reflection on process and product.

  9. As a result of the program young people excel in the discipline and/or techniques taught.

Evidence that staff, collaborators, and program design will meet the developmental needs of participating young people.

  1. Program operates as part of a holistic community of support for young people rather than isolated from other programs and services. Program recognizes the multiple needs of the participating young people and integrates its efforts with those of other providers.

  2. Program is based on participating young people’s assets rather than on deficits. Program identifies participants' strengths, builds on them, and cultivates additional assets young people need to become successful adults. Such assets might include skills (interpersonal, communication, decision-making, conflict-resolution, problem-solving, academic, or workforce skills), knowledge, attitudes, and/or behaviors.

  3. Staff have received adequate and appropriate training to meet students' developmental needs and have access to appropriate resources within or outside the organization to address issues beyond current program or staff capacity.

  4. Program takes place in safe and healthy spaces (i.e., physical safety is taken into consideration regarding program location, equipment, activities, and staffing; adequate adult supervision is provided; personnel are knowledgeable regarding procedures for dealing with emergencies; program creates an emotional safety in which participants are able to develop a sense of belonging and membership).

  5. Program fosters the development of positive relationships with adults and peers.

  6. Program encourages sustained, long-term involvement by participating young people and offers them expanding opportunities as they progress.

  7. Youth participants, artists, and appropriate collaborators play a meaningful role in the planning process both in designing the program and throughout its implementation.

  8. Young people have a true voice in shaping their projects, the program and, when appropriate, the organization - beyond program feedback forms. Young people set and monitor goals for their own achievement and assess their own progress and may be involved in decision-making.

  9. Adults set high expectations for participation, growth, and learning.

  10. If stipends are offered, they are connected to specific, consistent performance expectations and not merely to attendance.

  11. Recruitment and implementation plans are realistic given program goals, staffing, and resources.

Effectiveness of plans to document and evaluate the program's impact on participating young people.

  1. Program evaluation measures the young people's progress toward program goals; systems are in place to monitor and document the changes in skills, knowledge, attitude, or behavior that the program intends to promote.

  2. Staff regularly analyzes evaluation data and uses it to improve the program. When appropriate, students are included in this process.

  3. Student assessment and program evaluation systems are manageable and adequate time, staffing, money and other resources are in place to implement them.

Soundness of fiscal management, including diversity and reliability of financial support.

  1. Match is met by a reasonable margin.

  2. Budgeted expenses align with the proposed activities, staffing, and schedule.

  3. Organization is in good financial health and has good track record of financial management and fundraising.

  4. Projected funding is sufficiently diverse; the proposed program's fate is not reliant on any one funder.

  5. Income projections are sound and reasonable; specific sources have been researched and projections are reasonable, based on both the track record of the funder and their history with the applicant.

  6. Staff responsible for fiscal administration is skilled and experienced.

  7. For long-term projects, there is evidence of long-term planning for the proposed program's stability and sustainability.


Deadlines & Timeline

October 2014 - May 2015

Site visits for applicants seeking continued YouthReach funding

January 15, 2015

Application deadline for requests for new YouthReach funding

April - May 2015

Site visits for applicants seeking new YouthReach funding

May 1, 2015

Application deadline for applicants seeking continued YouthReach funding

June 2015

YouthReach Panels review proposals

July 2015

Governor signs new fiscal year budget

August 2015

MCC board reviews panels’ funding recommendations

September 2015

Funding decisions announced and projects begin

November 2015

80 percent of fiscal year 2016 award issued

July 2016

MCC board reviews staff recommendations for second-year funding

August 2016

MCC board reviews staff recommendations for second-year funding

September 2016

Funding decisions announced

November 2016

80 percent of fiscal year 2017 award issued

Use of Funds
YouthReach funds cannot be used for in-school programs during the typical school day. Capital expenses will not be considered as part of the budget of a YouthReach project and should not be included in the funding request. The state's definition of capital expenses includes:

  • Items with a life expectancy of more than three years and a monetary value of more than $500. (For example, the purchase of a $200 digital camera would be allowed; the purchase of a $600 projector would not. Buying a new computer would not be allowed, but leasing one for the duration of the project would be.)

  • Expenses related to the renovation or new construction of facilities.

Rules Pertaining to Multiple Proposals
In any single MCC fiscal year (July 1 - June 30), an organization may be the primary applicant for only one YouthReach grant application. However, an organization may be the primary applicant on one project and collaborate on others. Application for a YouthReach grant does not preclude organizations from applying to other MCC programs for which they meet eligibility requirements. Funds from other MCC programs cannot be used to match YouthReach grants, however.

Review Procedures & Funding Decisions
After the application deadline, MCC staff review applications for eligibility and appropriateness. Ineligible and uncompetitive applications are removed from consideration. The remaining applications are passed on to a panel of independent reviewers to conduct site visits and evaluate applications according to the review criteria. Panels are comprised of administrators, artists, humanists, scientists, and youth development specialists who represent diverse geographic, ethnic, philosophical, and aesthetic perspectives. Panelists evaluate applications and make funding recommendations to the MCC's board. The board considers these recommendations in the context of the agency's available funds and makes all final funding decisions. For details on the decision-making process, see the timeline above.

Each funding cycle, the MCC has continued YouthReach funding for some projects and new YouthReach funding for projects previously not funded through the initiative. New policy established for the FY2013 review stipulates that within the new YouthReach funding, while some funding may go to ongoing programs that are new to YouthReach, MCC will include funding for very new ventures. (If you are not currently funded through YouthReach and are unsure as to whether your project would be considered a very new venture or already existing program, contact MCC YouthReach staff.)

Site Visits
Site visits are a critical part of the application review process and every effort is made to have a panelist visit each applicant. The purpose of the site visit is for panelists to gain first-hand experience and direct contact with the proposed project’s key players, location, and community.

The site visit will occur during a regular working session, not a culminating event, final showcase, or performance.

Site visits are scheduled ahead of time to accommodate both the reviewers’ and the applicants’ schedules. Following is a list of required elements for the panelist during a site visit:

  • Observe “the process” in action—class, rehearsal, work session, etc.—so that panelist can see the interaction between adults and young people, instructional approach and flow, space, etc.
  • Talk to senior staff from the agency and key staff for proposed program.
  • Talk to someone in a caretaking/authority position with the participating (or intended) young people, outside of the program staff (parents, collaborators, case workers, or other key stakeholders as appropriate).
  • Talk to at least one board member during the site visit.
  • Talk to participating (or intended) young people.
  • See examples and/or documentation of completed student work.
  • Review and discuss specific evaluation/documentation tools.

These elements can take place in any order, so long as they are included as part of the site visit. Applicants are expected to set up the visit to accommodate these requirements.

Reporting Requirements
All grant recipients are required to submit regular reports to the MCC detailing the project's progress, including any changes in timeline, personnel, collaborating organizations, or content, along with annual financial information. Reports must demonstrate continued commitment to the project by all partners and be signed by officials from the primary applicant agency.
The MCC has the right to withhold, reduce, or discontinue funding if a YouthReach partnership:

  • Misses deadlines for grant reports.
  • Does not notify the MCC of changes in project collaborators or other significant changes in the project.
  • Fails to comply with the terms of the grant contract.
  • Is unable to raise the required match.
  • Demonstrates inadequate financial management and oversight.
  • Does not properly credit MCC support.
  • Demonstrates inadequate recruitment and/or retention of participating youth.

MCC will not release the next year's funding until complete reports are received from the primary applicant.

YouthReach Partners
Beginning in FY2012, a new category of YouthReach grantees will be established for programs in which the MCC has made the longest investments. (Currently this designation will be for programs that have been funded for 12 years or more.) These YouthReach Partners will be reviewed through a rigorous evaluative site visit by both MCC staff and peer reviewers each funding cycle and are required to file final reports each year. However, YouthReach Partners will not generally need to submit new applications for full panel reviews, as long as their work is going well. They will, however, be required to submit a full applications if: 1) significant concerns are identified in that evaluative site visit; 2) there are significant changes in the leadership of the project or the organization; 3) there are significant changes to the program design; or 4) there are any significant interruptions to program delivery.

As a condition of their contract with the MCC, the YouthReach Partners will also be required to commit senior staff in their project or organization to meet specific service requirements – and help build the youth development field. Service options may include serving as a panelist or site evaluator for other YouthReach applicants; serving as an on-site coach to a younger program; or leading a training session or workshop for peers in the field.


Access Policy
In accordance with state law, the MCC recognizes the importance of non-discrimination, diversity, and equal opportunity in all aspects of its programs and activities. The MCC is committed to access, not only as a matter of state and federal law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth’s population in MCC-funded programs. The MCC also considers low-income communities, rural populations, and citizens over 65 years old as underserved populations that should be proactively included in programs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that persons with disabilities have access to public programs or services on an equal basis with the rest of the general public. Furthermore, federal law mandates that any program or service that receives federal or state funding must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Therefore, all events and programs funded by the MCC must be accessible to persons with disabilities, including those with visual, hearing, mobility, and learning disabilities. Accessibility includes the facility and event location as well as the content of the program.

Conflict of Interest
To ensure that all MCC review panels are free from conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts, panelists are required to disclose any past, current, or prospective affiliation they or their immediate family members may have with an actual or potential applicant. "Affiliation" applies to employment, board memberships, independent contractual relationships, advisory or policy relationships, substantial contributor relationships, and other financial relationships. In addition, panelists are required to disclose any past or current adversarial relationships with actual or potential applicants of a professional or personal nature. MCC board members are not permitted to participate in discussion or votes related to any applicant with whom they have an affiliation or any applicants competing with that applicant.

Reconsideration Policy
An applicant may request reconsideration of an MCC decision on an application if the applicant can demonstrate that the MCC failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an award, with the amount of an award, or with the duration of an award does not constitute grounds for reconsideration. The first step in the process is to consult with the appropriate Program Manager to review the procedures that resulted in the MCC's decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a written request must be sent to the MCC's Executive Director within 30 days of the date of notification of the decision. Such requests will be reviewed by the board no earlier than its next scheduled meeting.

Acknowledgment of Funding
Grant recipients are required to credit the Massachusetts Cultural Council in all print, audio, video and internet materials, and all publicity materials (such as press releases, brochures, posters, advertisements and web sites). Detailed information will be provided in the contract package mailed to grantees.

Application Process

All items are required for an application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications will affect the outcome of an application. Email and faxed materials are not acceptable.

  1. Review the Program Guidelines (above) to ensure that you understand the YouthReach Program rationale.

  2. Contact Program Manager Erik Holmgren to confirm eligibility and to discuss any questions you may have about the program.

  3. Create an organizational profile to access the online application forms.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted Adams, CIP-Peers, Cultural Districts, Cultural Facilities Fund, and/or YouthReach applications can all be used.)

  4. Complete the online application, comprised of the following elements:

    Project Summary
    Application Narrative
    Recent Findings (Returning Applicants Only)
    Biographies of key personnel
    Organizational Budget Summary
    Project Budget Summary
    Collaborator List
    Support Materials
         Program Logic Model
         Curriculum or Program Schedule
         Detailed Project Budget for FY16
    First-time applicants to the MCC only:
         IRS Tax-Exempt Letter
         Articles of Incorporation
         Financial statements for the most recently completed fiscal year
  5. Click the "final submission" button of the application by the deadline. The electronic application will then be automatically received by the MCC.

The electronic submission of all the application pages and support materials listed above constitutes the final application.

Proceed to the Online Application

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