Kids don't just build boats; boats build kids. That's the motto of social service organization Rocking the Boat, which challenges New York's youth to build boats, learn to row and sail, restore urban waterways, and revitalize their communities. This innovative youth development program is made possible by grants from the city's top philanthropy foundations. As part of the Arts & Culture Program, the Altman Foundation recently awarded $100,000 to Rocking the Boat for general operating costs. (Read Altman youth developmenet senior program officer, Deborah Thompson Velazquez's IP profile).
An East Harlem Junior High School student launched Rocking the Boat in 1996 as part of a volunteer project. Today, it helps over 3,000 kids each year work together on common goals, while learning about the natural environment and each other. Rocking the Boat targets the minority youth in the Hunts Point section of South Bronx, which is the poorest congressional district in the nation. The organization also coordinates rowing and camping adventure trips for students, family boat launch celebrations, and part-time employment. (See Grants for K-12 Education).
When it comes to supporting Rocking the Boat, the Altman Foundation is in good company. At least eleven public agencies, twenty-one corporations, and thirty-one foundations keep the program alive. Altman's support for Rocking the Boat reflects their overall grantmaking strategy in the Arts & Culture program, which is to give to well-established minority youth organizations. With similar youth development goals, Altman also recently granted $35,000 to the Ballet Tech Foundation, $150,000 to the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy, and $90,000 to the youth media training program at Downtown Community Television Center.
With that being said, you have a good shot at a grant with Altman if your art programs are targeted at kids in the five boroughs. Although the foundation does accept proposals from other areas within the state, preference is almost always given to city organizations. It all starts with a Letter of Inquiry, which you'll need to complete online. To ensure smooth sailing during the application process, follow Rocking the Boat's example and get the city kids out into nature.