By Elizabeth S. Martin, MD, FAAD
As chair of the Academy’s Youth Education Committee, one of my responsibilities is to review grant applications for the AAD Shade Structure Program. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my committee work because it allows me to see what’s going on at the grassroots level to educate children about sun safety and protection.
The 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.
In 2013, 21 shade structures were granted, bringing the total awarded since the program’s inception in 2000 to 285. By our estimation, these structures provide shelter to more than 573,000 people daily.
The 2014 application process closes on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. The program is open to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that provide services, programs, and curricula to children and teenagers who are 18 and younger.
To be considered, applicants must:
Each year, the Youth Education Committee reviews hundreds of grant applications. To be considered, applicants must demonstrate that they have had a sun safety program in place for at least a year. The strongest applications focus on sun safety education, curricula to support education, and measures to assess the effectiveness of the program.
The committee understands that schools are in a better position to offer a standardized educational curriculum than parks or swimming pools. As a result, we also look for organizations that offer creative ways to educate the public. For example, one park district asked employees to model sun safety behaviors to teach by example. They didn’t just talk the talk; they walked the walk. Oftentimes, demonstrating behavior is as important as offering traditional educational models.
All shade structure grant applications must include a cover memo and anonymous letter of recommendation from an AAD member dermatologist. The recommendation is designed to create a new relationship between the organization and the AAD member, or to strengthen an existing relationship.
The process requires only a minimum amount of effort on your part. If the application is approved for a grant, the impact on your community will be tremendous.
Dr. Martin is in private practice at Pure Dermatology and Aesthetics in Hoover, Ala. She also enjoys teaching fourth-year medical students as volunteer clinical faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She serves the AAD as deputy chair of the Council on Communications, chair of the Youth Education Committee, chair of the Strategic Alliance Liaison Committee, and as a member of the Leadership Development Steering Committee.
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