In step 1 (from part 5 of this series-have we confused you yet?), we talked through the planning stage of financing a corporate university. Knowing the purpose for your university, the structure of it, and the team members who are going to drive it are all important considerations but, in order to make this a reality, you need to determine how the university will be funded. Having a long-term plan provides the perspective and understanding of the scope for your initiative.
Recognizing, at least initially, that you may not be able to allocate all the dollars you need to for the long term (as you’ll want to see ROI sooner rather than later), you’ll want to investigate some “creative” resources to assist in funding this. Coming to the table with these innovative (and, oftentimes, not so innovative as much as “low hanging fruit”) will put you and your team in a position where you will undoubtedly receive a higher level of commitment and support.
So, what are these creative options? Consider these:
- Federal grants—In some instances, training grants may be given to corporations or businesses for the training of their employees. The most common online system for searching federal grants for training opportunities is www.grants.gov.
- State grants—Businesses looking for training grants should contact the State Economic Development Department or local government offices for information. In the state of Indiana, you can find additional information at The Skills Enhancement Fund (SEF). Not all companies are eligible, but there are some dollars to be had for those that qualify.
- Corporate Sponsorship—In this instance, you might approach an existing corporate partner with the idea of helping to fund your university. There are some restrictions on corporate sponsorship as this type of arrangement needs to include a guarantee of benefit to both parties. But what an interesting idea to consider!
- Other Corporate Budgets—Remember, this is a “corporate university,” not the “HR university,” so consider allocating dollars from other departments that will benefit, or distributing the dollars throughout all areas. In one organization I’ve worked with, the marketing department supported the entire university budget, as they recognized and supported how the university strategically connected their people to the corporate brand.
I know that others have come up with creative ways to secure dollars for training programs. We’d love to have you share your ideas here, or post a question or a comment.
Image: Stuart Miles