Global Youth Service Fund
The Youth Service Fund (YSF) is a unique grant program within the UMC, because all aspects involve youth. Youth create fundraisers and contribute money, youth decide what projects receive money, and all of the projects supported must be youth-designed, led by youth, and benefit young people. Additionally, 70 percent of YSF funds raised by an Annual Conference stay with that Annual Conference! Thirty percent of funds raised by an Annual Conference are sent to the global UMC to support the Global Youth Service Fund.
YOUTH CAN GIVE!
Youth directly give to YSF by participating or hosting fundraisers through a local church or larger conference event, donating individual gifts, or asking their local congregation for a special offering. Each year youth raise thousands of dollars for YSF. These funds are sent to the treasurer of your Annual Conference to be combined with the gifts of other youth in the area. If you are interested in how your Annual Conference raises funds contact the Bishop’s office to find out who is in charge in your area.
YSF funds some truly innovative ministries, and we want your best ideas for consideration. Put together an awesome application and plan to pull it off, and we’ll support you with prayers and funding once our panel of youth reviews and approves. Check out this list of projects that have received funding within the past 10 years for some inspiration!
In 2015, Young People’s Ministries staff created a four-part resource to help youth better understand Youth Service Fund and its possibilities. For further inspiration, download and use this free PDF resource for conversation and early planning stages with youth in your church.
Like we said before, 70 percent of any funds raised for YSF by an Annual Conference goes to projects selected by youth in leadership from the region of the church. That usually means that the Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) can identify awesome projects that meet the needs of their context. The remaining 30 percent of the total collected is sent to the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), and this amount is used to fund projects that a team of youth from around the world select. Most importantly, the projects supported are designed and led by youth, for the benefit of their peers. (Book of Discipline 2012, 649. 3. i-k; 1208)
APPLICATION & SELECTION PROCESS
The basic application and selection process follows:
- Stage 1 Application (Basic, Short Form includes “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the project and an estimated budget) Submissions must be in English. Opens January 1, Closes April 15.
- Young People’s Ministries Staff review Stage 1 applications, then we invite applicants who match grant criteria to submit a full application in Stage 2. (April & May)
- Stage 2 Application (Full application, Long Form including full description, detailed budget, recommendation letter, and list of prayer partner stakeholders) Opens May 15, Closes June 15.
- Stage 2 applications are organized and reviewed by members of the Division on Ministries with Young People. They recommend the projects and funding amount to the Board of Directors of Discipleship Ministries for final approval.
- Good Faith Agreements are sent out from Discipleship Ministries detailing funding amounts, reporting deadlines, etc., to approved grant recipients. Approved grant recipients sign Good Faith Agreements. (November & December) Applicant participates in an online logic model workshop provided by Discipleship Ministries.
- First payments (half of total award) are sent in January of the year following the application. Second payments are sent after mid-year reports on the progress of the project. The payment dates can be altered if the project shows a distinct need.
- Failure to comply with the requirements will lead to termination of funding or prevent receiving funds in the future.
YSF SELECTION CRITERIA & POLICIES
- Priority will be given to those projects that are youth-led (i.e., youth have been leaders in the creation, development, implementation, and evaluation of a project).
- The project must be youth-related (12-18 years of age, or up to age 24 for international projects).
- Youth Service Fund money is to be used to develop and establish new projects that will become self-supporting.
- There is no guarantee of funding after one year and no project will be funded more than three consecutive years. Funding for consecutive years will decrease from that of the previous year.
- Youth Service Fund grants should have a substantial effect on the project but will not be used to fund a deficit.
- Projects should be racially and ethnically inclusive whenever possible.
- Preference will be given to United Methodist projects within the connectional system. Projects of other churches and cooperative efforts between religious groups will be favored next. Finally, projects sponsored by secular organizations that meet Youth Service Fund criteria will be considered.
- Applications must be submitted in the English language. Applicants are welcome to use translation applications like Google Translate or Babelfish. Applicants are encouraged to review any translation done by software for accuracy. If there are language or technology barriers that prevent an application from being submitted, please contact our grant administrators to discuss alternatives.
- The goals of the project should be stated clearly and briefly in Stage 1. The project review committee needs to be able to visualize the project in action. Help us briefly and powerfully understand why the project is important, who it will positively impact, and how that impact will happen.
- Submitting a specific budget is essential in Stage 2. Where does all income come from? What expenses do your project have? No more than 25 percent of Youth Service Fund monies granted may be used for administration or salary. A minimum of 75 percent of awarded YSF funds must be used for program development.
- Illustrate church and community support, financial and otherwise, especially in Stage 2. Letters of recommendation and support are encouraged from church and community leaders. Also, be sure to identify at least five stakeholders/prayer partners that will support your project locally with prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
- Specify one primary project category to describe your project. These are provided as options within the application itself and reflect the vision and values of the Division on Ministries with Young People and Discipleship Ministries.
- We recommend that applications demonstrate support and awareness from United Methodist churches and United Methodist connections, including the Episcopal office, within the community and region of the application.
- Grant applications that are recommended for funding will be notified in November or December of their award status. Discipleship Ministries will issue a “Good Faith Agreement” that outlines the relationship expectations for the grant recipient and Discipleship Ministries. This Good Faith Agreement must be returned in a timely fashion in order to receive funding.
- Approved grant recipients will receive two automated reminders about deadlines for mid-year and final reports. These will be sent out through the grant administration platform one month prior to the deadline and one week before the deadline. Missing the mid-year reporting deadline will result in the cancellation of the second half of funding. Missing the final reporting deadline will result in disqualification for any future awards for the applicant and their organization.
- We recognize that serious, extenuating circumstances do happen, so there can be some flexibility with both funding and reporting timeframes. This flexibility is an exception to the general rule of applicants meeting timely deadlines. Any change in deadline requires proactive communication that results in a clear understanding between the grant recipient and the Discipleship Ministries staff administrating grants, at least two weeks prior to the deadline in question. In some cases, extensions may not be possible.
- The maximum award for a Youth Service Fund grant is $15,000 USD. You do not have to request the maximum amount, however, and should only apply for what you need.
- Complete all forms.
- Provide all documents requested by established deadlines.
- Applications must be submitted in English. A local volunteer translator is recommended, but apps like Google Translate are also acceptable.
- The application process takes place in two stages.
- The Stage 1 application is a basic, short form that should take less than 30 minutes to complete. It includes short answers about the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the project and an estimated budget. Stage 1 opens in January and closes April 15, 2021.
- The Stage 2 application is by invitation only, to applications that:
- fit the grant descriptions,
- meet a ministry need that is aligned with the Division on Ministries with Young People’s vision or values,
- have reasonable estimated budgets,
- have clear goals and understandings of how those goals will be achieved and measured.
- Invitations to Stage 2 will be communicated to the applicant no later than May 14, 2021. Stage 2 includes a detailed application that includes a full description, detailed budget, recommendation letter, and list of prayer partner stakeholders. Opens May 15, 2021. Closes June 15, 2021.
Applying for Grants:
Each grant has a two-stage application process. All applications that are approved through both stages will receive funding in the year following the application. (For example, apply in 2025, get money in 2026.)
Stage 1: Initial Project Application. This short-form application provides basic information about the project; the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the project plus an estimated total budget. Stage 1 applications open in January and close on April 15, 2021. After April 15, a team of Discipleship Ministries Staff will review Stage 1 Applications. The review committee will evaluate Stage 1 applications on the following criteria:
- How well does the project fit the description of the grant’s selection criteria?
- Does the project have a real chance of successful implementation and impact?
- Does the applicant seem to be aware of their own measures of success and impact and how to self-evaluate effectiveness of their project?
The review committee will send invitations to some applicants to complete a Stage 2, full application by May 15, 2021. The Stage 2 application is due by June 30, 2021.
Stage 2: Full Project Application. Only for projects invited to continue into Stage 2, this application is a more complete and robust picture of how the grant money will be used and the impact it will create through your project. This stage must be completed to be considered for funding. The full project application includes:
- A full, written project description.
- A detailed budget including all expected sources of income and plan for expenses for the duration of the project.
- One (1) letter of recommendation, preferably from a ministry leader in your context.
- A list of five (5) prayer partners/stakeholders/project supporters, who will support you and your project with some of their own prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, along with their email addresses.
It is also recommended that applications demonstrate a link and support from United Methodist organizations and connections in the regions of their project. Stage 2 Applications are due in the application platform by June 30, 2021. Failure to deliver all documents by the due date will disqualify the project. Completed Stage 2 Applications will be organized for review by a team of youth, young adults, and Young People’s Ministries staff in July. Projects approved for funding will receive notification and a Good Faith Agreement to complete and return before the end of the calendar year.
For questions regarding grant policies or procedures, not found in the FAQ, please contact Young People’s Ministries staff.
For technical questions regarding the application platform or application status, please contact our Grants Administrator.