Planning your educational outreach campaign should happen as early as possible in the production process. Preferably, you will develop your educational outreach plan soon after you have written the concept for your program or series, at which point you will need to develop budgets and schedules for each element.
If you will be working with other staff to produce the various educational outreach elements (print, Web, video, etc.), this is the time to involve them and/or an educational outreach manager. They can develop budgets and schedules for their separate elements, which you can then incorporate into your overall project proposal with a master timeline and budget.
Determine the Budget
Discuss the scope and a target budget amount for each of your educational outreach elements with the consultants or departments who will be working on them. Let them figure out what they can do within the given budget, and include their estimates in your funding proposal. If you develop specific budgets for the different elements without getting such input and then expect others to implement these elements, you may find that they cannot stick to the budget figures you've promised your funders.
So how do you come up with a target budget? Generally, educational outreach ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent of a production budget. At the high end, this might include a robust Web site and possibly professional development videos, along with curriculum development and fairly extensive implementation strategies. Some issues to consider include the following:
- Who will you approach for funding?
If you plan to approach a particular funder for a large percentage of your project budget, talk with your project officer early in the development process, or carefully review the funder's guidelines and recently funded projects, to ascertain the level of educational outreach activity that they will expect. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requires substantial educational outreach, as do many other foundations. If your educational outreach plan is seen as too limited, it could jeopardize funding for your whole project. Avoid developing a different plan for each funder, tailored to their specific interests. You don't want to let your funders cherry-pick your plan, or you could end up with lots of half-funded pieces.
- How difficult will it be to raise money for your project?
If you believe you'll have difficulty raising money for your project (because the subject matter is controversial, for instance, or because it doesn't address issues currently in vogue among foundations), keep in mind that an exciting educational outreach campaign may open funding doors that might otherwise be shut. You may want to consult someone experienced in foundation or government fund-raising for suggestions of potential funders you may not have considered who might find your project exciting specifically because of the outreach component. You still need to be realistic, however, about how much money you can ultimately raise. You don't want to develop an extensive educational outreach campaign that makes your overall project unfundable.
- Where does your project fall within core educational curricula?
You don't want to create a huge educational outreach campaign for a subject that is educationally marginal, even though the goal of your educational outreach might be to bring a controversial or seldom-taught subject more to the forefront. If you aren't sure how to figure out where your project fits in to the educational arena, refer to the Defining Educational Content section of this guide.
Create a Schedule
How does educational outreach fit into your project timeline? Generally, most of the "production" work on your educational outreach elements (including educational print materials, a Web site, or an online professional development course) happens on parallel production timelines three to 12 months before the series or program premiere. Many person-to-person activities, such as workshops and events, coincide with or happen after the series premiere, although the planning work occurs during the preceding months. The actual schedule for each outreach element needs to be developed individually, depending on project size and scope and the availability of series or program resources.