Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Finance

Advisor

Cawthon, Michael

Reader

Farmer, Amy

Abstract

Each fiscal year, there is a battle on Capitol Hill as lawmakers wrestle with reconciling political promises to financial reality. This process is completed with the goal of efficiently allocating scarce resources, in this case tax dollars and other government revenue, across the needs of the over 325 million diverse residents of the United States. Some budget items garner almost universal support, such as defense funding, infrastructure and education. While individuals may differ on how much funding each of these causes should receive, almost all agree that they should be funded by the federal government. Other budget items, such as universal healthcare, food stamps and the National Endowment for the Arts are partisan issues, with some believing they are key government services and others believing they are a waste of their hard-earned money. Daily, many households across the country play out this same battle. Families decide a wide range of financial issues: whether they wish to go on a vacation, send their children to private school, buy a bigger home or donate to causes they care about. Individuals also decide how to spend their time. Should they volunteer more, or use their free hours to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby? Even more specifically, families and individuals must decide where to spend their time and money. Though in the private sector companies typically make decisions based on financial metrics, often times government and non-profit programs are either fiercely opposed or supported based solely on anecdotal evidence or moral concepts. The introduction of these opinions in the budget making process may limit both the government’s and individual’s ability to truly allocate resources efficiently and effectively. Lately, an easy target of federal spending cuts has been the Department of Education. Although most agree the government is obligated to fund public education to some extent, the many other programs funded by the Department of Education have come under fire. According to a Washington Post article from March of 2017, one example is the $1.2 billion dollars in federal grants that are the backbone of funding for many of America’s after school programs. These grants, known as 21CCLC grants, enable over 1.6 million children across the country, to access after school programming (Brown). While these cuts did not become reality in the budget passed in late March of 2018, the threat to these programs is real. If the government cuts funding, individuals may take it as a sign that these programs do not work and reduce their own donations of time and money to the cause. The most efficient way for the government and households to reduce bias and effectively allocate resources is likely to borrow a page from the private sector and perform a numbers-based analysis of all potential options. While anecdotal evidence and moral leanings are still an important part of final decision making, beginning the process with a study of Return on Investment (ROI) improves the cost efficiency of budgets. This study will explore the potential calculation and application of ROI to after-school programming with the goal of showing these programs to be a net positive investment for the government, individuals and society at large.

Keywords

after-school programming, return on investment, non-profit ROI

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