Shade structure grant program FAQs

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These frequently asked questions (FAQs) can provide you with greater detail about the program and the application process.

Program details

Q. What is the AAD Shade Structure Grant Program? 
A. The AAD Shade Structure Grant Program grants monetary awards of up to $8,000 for the purchase of a permanent shade structure.

Q. What types of outdoor locations are eligible to be shaded?
A. Examples of outdoor locations that are eligible for grant funds can include, but are not limited to playgrounds, pool decks, ball field dugouts, eating areas, etc.

Q. What are the requirements for application? 

A. To be considered, applicants must:

  • Be a non-profit organization or public school.
  • Primarily provide services for children under the age of 18.
  • Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sun-safety/skin cancer awareness.

    • Sun-safety/skin cancer awareness program must be in place for at least one year prior to application.
  • Be recommended by an AAD member dermatologist (locate an AAD member dermatologist by using the Find A Dermatologist tool.

Q. How do I demonstrate my organization’s commitment to sun safety? 
A. In the application, describe your organization’s program, curriculum, or activities that educate children and/or teens about sun safety and skin cancer awareness. In the application, you can include:
  • A description of your program.
  • When your program was founded.
  • Who from your organization presents the information and how.
  • Materials that are used to supplement your program.
  • Tools used to measure retention.

This awareness program can be repurposed with materials available from other organizations (such as the American Cancer SocietyEPA SunWise ProgramCDC Sun Safety for America’s Youth Toolkit, or Cancer Control PLANET) or can be original content developed specifically for your audience.

Remember, to be considered for a grant, applicants must demonstrate that they have had an active sun-safety/skin cancer awareness program for at least one year prior to application.

Q. How much is the grant award?

A. Up to $8,000. This can include the cost of the structure and its installation.

Q. When will the Shade Structure Grant Program application be available on the website to apply? 
A. The application will be available from September 15-November 25. The application is available for online submission only.

Q. How many grants are awarded each year?
A. The number of grants awarded each year is dependent on the availability of funding.  

Q. What type of shade structures will meet the requirements of the program?
A. The manufacturer or contractor must design and install a shade structure that is a permanent structure with a continuous roof constructed of shade cloth, metal or wood and that provides significant protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR):
  • Cloth/textile roof structures: Shade cloth roof structures must include documentation about the percentage of UVR that the fabric will block, or the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
    • The AAD recommends fabric that provides a UPF of 30 or higher, which is about 96.7 percent of UVR blocked.
    • If a UPF cannot be determined for the fabric style and color you have selected, you will be asked to choose a shade structure roof material that blocks a percentage of UVR closest to this recommended percentage.
    • Recipients must provide the manufacturer's specification documents showing the UVR-blocking properties and test method. The AAD recommends that shade cloth meet U.S. standards for UPF testing and labeling of UV-protective textiles (AATCC 183; ASTM D6603).
  • Hard-top roof structures: Hard-top roof structures, either wood or metal, will block 100 percent of direct UVR and do not require documentations about the UVR blockage.

Recipients select the size and type of structure that best fits the outdoor location and meets the AAD’s criteria. If the shade structure your organization is considering does not meet the criteria listed above, please do not complete an application.

Q. What types of structures are ineligible for the AAD Shade Structure Grant Program?
A. Ineligible shade structures are slat-roof structures, slat-roof/trellis gazebos, trellis roofs designed for future plant coverage, shade trees, small cap-roof structures for pieces of playground equipment.

Application process


Q. During the application process, how do I demonstrate that my organization is a non-profit or a public school? 
A. The application requires the following information:
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) or equivalent: The EIN, also known as a federal tax identification number, is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. You may apply for an EIN for free through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Identification of your organization as tax-exempt under the IRS, Section 501(c)3, 501(c)4, or 501(c)5.

Q. How many photos of the area to be shaded are required for the application?
A. The application requires two color photographs of the area to be shaded. Take photos of the area when there is bright sunlight so your photos demonstrate your need for shade. Submit these photos as jpeg files.

Do not submit photos/images of blueprints or technical drawings that illustrate your proposed shade structure. Also, do not submit “staged” photos of children or teens with signs or posters asking for consideration of the grant.

Member recommendation

Q. What is required of an AAD member to recommend an application?
A. An AAD member must write a letter of support and submit it to the organization that is completing the application.  It will then be uploaded to the online application. 

Please follow this format:

To: AAD Shade Structure Grant Program Review Committee

From: AAD Member Name and AAD Member ID Number

RE: Recommendation of {INSERT YOUR ORGANIZATION’S NAME}

Body copy: As a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, I recommend {INSERT ORGANIZATION’S NAME}

Additional information to include: 

How the AAD member knows your organization. (Please include a mention of your organization in the letter.)
  • What the AAD member knows about your organization’s sun-safety/skin cancer awareness program, including his/her participation in such programs.
  • How the AAD member will be working with your organization in the future.
  • Information about the area to be shaded, including whether the AAD member has visited the location.
  • Any additional information that the AAD member would like to include about your organization, its sun-safety/skin cancer awareness program and your organization’s need for shade.

Member signature

Beyond the aforementioned letter of recommendation, an AAD member dermatologist has no financial obligation, liability or patient referral requirements to recommend an application. They are also allowed to refer more than one location.

Q. How do I locate an AAD member in my area?

A. Visit Find A Dermatologist to find a member by ZIP code.

The recommending AAD member dermatologist does not have to be from your city and can be from the surrounding area. AAD member dermatologists can recommend more than one application. All U.S. AAD members have been notified that they may be contacted by organizations seeking recommendation for an application.

Q. How do I contact an AAD member dermatologist to recommend my application?
A. If you are contacting an AAD member for the first time, send a letter or email of introduction and then follow up with a phone call.

In the letter/email and phone call:
  • Introduce yourself and your organization.
  • Explain why you are calling.
  • Explain why your organization needs shade.
  • Invite him or her to visit your location.
  • Explain your sun-safety/skin cancer awareness programs.

Q. What resources are available to assist AAD members in developing a recommendation letter?

A. If an AAD member dermatologist is unfamiliar with the Shade Structure Grant Program, please direct him or her to the home page for the program.

In addition, AAD members can visit a members-only Web page for information about the program, assistance with preparing a recommendation letter and general FAQs.

Q. What are the AAD member's obligations if the organization recommended is selected as a recipient?

A. The AAD member dermatologist should be invited to the dedication ceremony for the installed shade structure (which is a requirement of the grant recipients) to share sun-safety information with those gathered for the ceremony.

General questions

Q. My organization has never researched shade structures. Can the AAD recommend any manufacturers? 
A. The AAD does not endorse or recommend any shade structure manufacturers or vendors. A Web search of “shade structure manufacturers” will result in a list of manufacturers.

Q. My organization already installed a shade structure. Are we eligible to apply for funds to pay for that structure?
A. No, applications for retroactive funds for a shade structure that already has been installed are not accepted.

Q. My organization is a previous Shade Structure Grant Program recipient. Are we eligible to apply for a second award?
ANo, previous AAD Shade Structure Grant Program recipients are not eligible to apply for additional awards.

A. My organization is located in California. What information do I need to know about building codes in earthquake zones?
A. Depending on your organization, the state of California may require the Division of the State Architect (DSA) to review and approve your structure. Visit http://www.dsa.dgs.ca.gov/default.htm for more information about the additional time or costs that may be incurred due to the DSA approval process. This may affect your organization’s ability to meet the grant requirements.

Recipient information

Q. If my organization is selected as a recipient, what type of sign is provided to acknowledge the grant?

A. The AAD provides a permanent, free-standing sign:

  • The sign will be shipped directly with installation instructions.
  • The sign should be installed within one month of the installation of the shade structure.
  • If your organization requires an alternative sign, contact the AAD following receipt of your grant award.
Q. If my organization is selected as a recipient, what happens at the dedication ceremony?
A dedication ceremony or ribbon-cutting should be held withing 60 days of installation to celebrate the completed structure.The dedication ceremony can be informal.

Organizations must invite the sponsoring AAD member dermatologist.The dermatologist can provide a brief presentation about the importance of sun protection.

AAD can provide limited quantities of materials to hand out to the audience.

Q. I have questions that are not addressed by this FAQ. Who can I contact?
A. If you have any questions about the program, please email shadestructure@aad.org.

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