At Barnacles & Bees, our shared values drive us to create a diverse, connected community; built on love and trust for each other and the planet. From our first team meeting, we all agreed that we would build a community-driven program, based on the needs of those who live here; and reflective of the needs of our own families. However, in working through our numbers and developing our business plan, we quickly realized that it would be a challenge. Even with a small staff, and very few resources – insurance, park rental rates, the cost of gear, and more has piled up on our small startup and driven up the cost of the program. Our challenge now is to make all our Forest School programs more accessible and more affordable. Because, how can we make our program diverse if it cannot be accessible to everyone?
August was all about refining our business plan and leaping into grant writing, starting with the Bremerton Community Development Block Grant.
Our application for the Block Grant included funding for our Friday Program at Smith Nature Play Park. Our project was to create an accessible, inclusive one-day-per-week nature immersive class for preschool-aged children close to Downtown and within the block grant area. Our Free Family Nature Play classes have been such a success at this location – that it seemed to be a great fit. Our hope was that the grant would provide capacity-building funds to serve low-income families in partnership with Kitsap Community Resources and others in order to remove childcare barriers for parents and caregivers.
The application was an incredible learning experience, with many late nights and a lot of ground-work to cover. You can imagine our excitement when our online application was approved through the first round of interviews. On August 27th, our Executive Director, Cyrielle and our Board President, Krystal were excited (and nervous) to present in front of a large committee made up of city officials and volunteers. We were passionate – and it showed.
The presentation went really well. We had some great questions and feedback. In the end, however, Barnacles & Bees was not awarded a grant for program funding. Their reasoning was that our organization is too new and our outdoor preschooler program is not running yet. While the news was not what we wanted to hear, the committee warmly recommended for us to apply again next year.
Barnacles and Bees is an organization founded by 5 Bremerton families. Our team has donated over 300 hours of time to develop Bremerton's first outdoor learning community and first nature preschool program. We will continue to push to make our programs affordable, diverse and accessible to our community.
Do you want to be part of that exciting adventure? Please consider volunteering!
Stay tuned on more about our funding strategy!
Post written by Cyrielle Willa, Bridget Morgan and Krystal Meiners.