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Shade Structure Program

Shade structure

The AAD Shade Structure Grant Program awards grants of up to $8,000 to public schools and non-profit organizations for installing permanent shade structures for outdoor locations that are not protected from the sun, such as playgrounds, pools, or recreation spaces. In addition to the grant, the AAD also provides a permanent sign for display near the shade structure.

How can members help?

Members can support the program through the following.

  • Sponsoring an application: See the resources below to guide you through the process of sponsoring an application for a shade structure.

  • Adopting a shade structure: Each year, the Academy receives hundreds of applications from schools and community non-profits seeking shade over their outdoor areas, but there are a limited number of grants available. The Adopt-a-Shade Program provides an opportunity for an individual or group/practice to fund a shade structure by choosing from these worthy applicants.

  • Making a donation: Help fund shade structures by making a donation to the program.

State society resources illustrated image
State society toolkit: Shade structure program

The Academy is working to deliver information and resources state societies need to help advocate for the specialty. Here, you'll find a toolkit full of resources to support the AAD's Shade Structure program.

How to sponsor an application

All shade structure grant program applications must include a letter of recommendation from an AAD member dermatologist. Below are resources to help you support an application.

Who is eligible to apply?

The AAD Shade Structure Program is open to non-profit organizations that provide services, programs, and curricula to children and teenagers who are 18 and younger. 

To be considered, applicants must: 

  • Be recommended by an Academy member dermatologist.

  • Demonstrate a commitment to sun safety within their organizations. (Please see the online application for specific criteria to meet this requirement.)

  • Be considering a shade structure that meets the stringent requirements of the AAD. (Please download the guidelines book (PDF download) for specific criteria on shade structure selection.

What is the deadline to apply?

The deadline to submit an application is December 23. Winners will be announced in March. 

Tips for writing a strong letter of support

The Academy’s Shade Structure Grant Program requires each grant application to be accompanied by a letter of recommendation written by an Academy member dermatologist. The letter of recommendation is an important piece of the application as it is read by the review committee that makes the final selection of grant recipients. The information you provide about the sun-safety initiatives undertaken by the school or organization and your involvement can provide valuable insight.  

The letter of recommendation should include the following:

To: AAD Shade Structure Program Review Committee
From: AAD Member Name and AAD Member ID Number
Body copy: As a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, I recommend...

  • The letter should appear on the AAD member's office letterhead.

  • The letter should be mailed or scanned as .pdf or .jpg documents and sent to the organization that is applying for the grant. They will upload it to their online application. Recommendation documents mailed separately from the application are not accepted.

  • There are no financial obligations or other requirements of AAD members to recommend an organization's application.

The Academy has developed the following tips to assist members with the development of letters of recommendation. Please note: these are only tips and are not required elements of a letter of support. 

  • Describe the organization and the number of children and teenagers, including ages, gender, additional demographics, etc., who will be using the shaded location.

  • Describe the outdoor location to be shaded, how often it is used, and the types of activities taking place there.

  • Describe any sun-safety program(s) you have initiated for the organization or any sun-safety program(s) in which you have participated at the organization.

    • Describe how this program benefits the members of the organization.

    • Describe your volunteer efforts with the organization as part of the sun-safety program.

  • Describe any future ways you will be working with the organization to promote sun safety.

Some sample language for your letter could include:

  • A shade structure would supplement the education that students and parents have received about the benefits of skin protection.

  • I have organized and distributed educational literature and materials to this school on an ongoing basis so that faculty and staff can develop a sun-safety program for students and parents.

  • I visit this school periodically to give a brief lecture on skin and the effects of the sun. I have observed faculty applying sunscreen to students before going outdoors.

What are the benefits of sponsorship?
Benefits of being a sponsor

In addition to strengthening or developing a relationship with a local organization, if the organization you recommend is selected as a recipient of the grant, your support will be recognized in numerous ways. Sponsoring AAD members are:

  • Featured on the Academy awards display at Annual Meeting. Check your program book for exact location of the display at each meeting.

  • Recognized in AAD Annual Report to Members.

  • Recognized on the AAD website.

  • Listed on the scrolling PowerPoint presentation that plays continuously at the Academy awards display.

  • Listed in the program book for the AAD Recognition Luncheon, which is attended at the Annual Meeting by more than 350 of your colleagues and AAD leadership.

In addition, recipient organizations may choose to publicize their award locally and you can work with them to ensure that information about the importance of sun safety and skin cancer awareness are part of any news they release to the media.

Recipient organizations are required to hold a dedication ceremony for their shade structure. As the recommending AAD member, you should be invited to attend the ceremony and you may be asked to share information about the importance of sun protection. The AAD has resources available that can assist you in developing a brief presentation.