National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Parents & Teachers as Allies: How To Obtain Funding

September 2008

This information is designed for NAMI leaders interested in learning more about funding to bring the Parents and Teachers as Allies (PTasA) program into their state or community.

If you have not yet been trained in the Parents and Teachers as Allies program and are interested in learning about training and implementing the program, please contact Maura Bulger, program manager for NAMI Education, Training and Peer Support Center, at To learn more about program content, please visit the Parents & Teachers as Allies section of the Child & Adolescent Action Center website.

There are numerous resources available to learn about funding for the PTasA program. NAMI leaders who have implemented the program have helped to identify several strategies that have been effective, including the following:

  • Networking with others in the nonprofit community;
  • Using the Foundation Center's listings to search for grants that are focused on child and adolescent mental health, mental health services in schools, or reaching underserved populations;
  • Contacting local government agencies, family foundations, and community foundations to talk about the value of the program and the potential for funding; and
  • Reviewing other nonprofit organizations' newsletters to see the foundations listed and exploring whether they might support PTasA as well.

Once a possible grantor is identified, NAMI leaders recommend taking the following action steps:

  1. Research the grantor’s mission statement, grant proposal guidelines, deadlines, and the kinds of programs and activities it has supported in the past. This background information will help you determine the appropriate language and format to use in the grant proposal.
  2. Ensure your NAMI organization can meet the requirements of the grant you wish to receive and determine whether you need to partner with another group or make adjustments to your organization to meet the grant requirements.
  3. Identify individuals within your organization or community who have strong writing and research abilities who can draft the grant proposal and budget consistent with the grant requirements;
  4. Collect state or county specific data that may be useful for your grant proposal, including how many children with mental illnesses fail or drop out of school, the prevalence of mental illnesses in youth, and the rate of school professionals leaving their positions because they are unable to manage students with behavioral challenges; and
  5. Allocate enough time (usually several months) to complete the grant application and develop the grant budget. The budget should include funding for travel, training of NAMI staff, stipends, room reservations, presentation equipment, training manuals, the PTasA monograph, promotional materials, refreshments for the training and program presentation, and other resources. 

Many grant funders require the grantee to maintain lots of data, including tracking staff hours spent on the project, expenses, and outcomes. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that your NAMI organization has the capability and capacity to collect and store any required data. If not, you may need to identify other organizations to partner with in order to successfully meet the terms of the grant. Grantors appreciate programs and activities that connect nonprofit groups together that have similar visions and goals so you may want to emphasize how you will collaborate with school groups and other nonprofit groups in your community.

NAMI partnered with the University of Maryland to evaluate the PTasA program. The program has received extremely high marks and praise from school professionals in all of the schools in which it has been delivered. We recommend that you use the PTasA Evaluation Report for the program to interest schools in the program and with potential funders. If you would like an electronic copy of the PTasA Evaluation Report to share with funders, please email Maura Bulger, program manager for NAMI Education, Training and Peer Support Center, at Grantors want to know that they are funding an effective program so this evaluation report adds great value to your grant application.  Other points to consider when making the case for a grantor to fund the PTasA program include:

  • Children with undiagnosed and untreated mental illness cannot participate in school. Approximately 50 percent of students with mental illnesses aged 14 and older drop out of high school--the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • Strengthening the alliance between families and schools is necessary to help prevent the unnecessary daily struggles and challenges faced by students with mental illnesses;
  • School professionals admit feeling ill equipped to address the needs of students living with mental illnesses and how best to work with families on this issue; and
  • National leaders are calling for schools to play a larger role in the early identification of mental health treatment needs in children. Schools are in a key position to identify mental health concerns early and to openly communicate with families.

Whenever possible, you should include specific data about the performance of students with mental illnesses in your state and community.

In order to seek continued funding once the initial grant funds run out, share with the funder that data shows that the initial funds received were used to support and expand an effective program that produced the anticipated positive outcomes. NAMI leaders should use the data from their PTasA Satisfaction Surveys and Pre/Post Assessments that are completed by audience members during the PTasA presentations to prove that the funded program achieved the anticipated objectives and goals (often outlined in the grant proposal) and that it is an effective program that is worth funding.

Below are grant proposals shared with us by NAMI leaders who are active with the PTasA program. They may serve as useful examples as you draft your own grant proposals.

Example Grant Proposal #1
A grant proposal that was presented to a Home and Community Care Foundation; $15,250 was awarded for PTasA with this grant proposal.

Example Grant Proposal #2
A grant proposal that includes information about the objectives, method of implementation, target group, expected benefits and results, budget, and resources regarding the PTasA program.

Example Grant Proposal #3
A proposal to a local community foundation. Funding was received and used to pay for training, presentation equipment, resources, and other materials.

Example Grant Proposal #4
A collaborative proposal between a NAMI Organization and another association seeking funding from a county behavioral health department.