Families earning less than the median U.S. family income, adjusted for family size, are “lower-income” by our definition. In 2012, the median annual income for a family of three was approximately $51,000. Your organization may define “lower-income” differently, perhaps by qualification for Free/Reduced Price Meals or some other standard. In the Letter of Intent, we ask you to estimate the percentage of lower-income youth served and to explain the basis or source for your estimate. We are most interested in programs in which a large percentage of the population served (more than 50%) is lower-income.
Similarly, when we are considering proposals for out-of-school-time enrichment programs, we are most interested in programs that serve predominantly high achievers, i.e., the focus of the organization or program is to help students who already exceed grade-level expectations develop their full potential. We believe that these “advanced learners” may not be sufficiently challenged during the school day, and the emphasis in schools on minimum standards is hurting students who can achieve far more. Our general guideline is that at least 2/3 of the population served exceeds grade-level expectations (as measured by a nationally normed test or scaled state test), and/or exhibits superior aptitude (scoring in the 7th stanine or higher). Your organization may not have these sorts of test scores to quantify the achievement and aptitude of the students you serve. If that is case, please explain in the Letter of Intent how you determine that you are serving students who have met minimum standards and who have the potential to achieve much more.
For arts enrichment programs, we are looking for programs that develop the skills of students who have demonstrated talent in the arts – in this area, “high-achieving” is more about achievement in the arts than in academics.