When Ames High School Key Club members in the Nebraska-Iowa District learned about Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) grants, they immediately knew that establishing a book-exchange library in their Ames, Iowa, U.S., community would now be possible. With five elementary schools in the area, the project could impact many children’s lives. Collaborating with the nonprofit organization Little Free Library, leaders of the Ames Key Club got to work applying for a YOF grant. 

After much planning, fundraising and collaborating, the Ames Key Club received a US$1800YOF grant and established its Little Free Library at a local park. 

Carissa Andorf, an Ames High School Key Club member and current Nebraska-Iowa District governor, played an active role in organizing the grant process. 


“When we sought funding from the Youth Opportunities Fund to obtain the necessary materials, we knew we were taking the next step in improving our community,” Andorf says. “With the grant, we were able to provide valuable opportunities for members and students. The success of this project stemmed from the help of the Youth Opportunities Fund.” 

So, how can your club apply for a YOF grant? It’s easy! 

  • Find out whether you qualify. To qualify for a Youth Opportunity Fund grant, your Key Club must show member engagement. You regularly hold meetings, and your members are actively engaged and committed to completing community service projects and activities.  
  • Pinpoint a community need and get creative. The Key Club Community Assessment tool and SWOT Analysis worksheet can help guide you. Next, propose a project that meets that need and targets at least one of the Kiwanis causes: health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development. When planning your project, be mindful that you will have only 12 months to spend the grant money if awarded. 
  • Create a fundraising plan. Determine how much money your club needs to complete the service project. Make sure you have a solid, diversified fundraising plan. (The YOF budget template can help you.) Remember to seek sources beyond the YOF grant — the grant committee typically funds projects that partner with other organizations for funding and execution. 
  • Get ready to apply. To start an application, you must have a club account on Foundant, our online grant-management system. (Past YOF recipients must use the club’s current Foundant account.) Watch this video to learn how to create an account and apply for a grant. Make sure to look over the grant application evaluation rubric and sample YOF application, and determine any changes or additions to your proposal.  
  • Submit your application through Foundant. Make sure to apply before the first application cycle deadline: October 15 at 8:59 p.m. PT/11:59 p.m. ET. For more information on the Youth Opportunities Fund, click here.