First time Grant Writer Bridges Gap Between Winona City Council and Access to Lottery Proceeds

Walking across Highway 61 had never been a pleasant experience for locals, but the tragic death of a 17-year-old boy who was struck by a car on a stretch of the Minnesota roadway near East Lake Boulevard, shed light on the danger.

That’s also when one concerned Winona local decided to apply for a grant that would fund an estimated $3.5-million pedestrian walkway to connect the east end of Lake Park to East Lake Boulevard, at the base of Sugar Loaf, a bluff on the Mississippi River that overlooks the city.

The grant proposal, endorsed by the Winona City Council, requested funds from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which makes recommendations to the Legislature on how to spend the lottery proceeds placed in Minnesota's Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, established for the preservation and enhancement of Minnesota’s natural resources.  

Anyone could apply for the grant. Lynn Carlson, a resident of Winona, did just that! Carlson had never written a grant. But, she believed her attempt would be a great way to improve the city.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWriterTeam said grant writers who have successfully written and been awarded grants can apply and join our team.  They are hired by nonprofits and individuals to research and complete grant applications that meet the needs of the client. Many of these applications from local, state and federal government agencies, corporations, and foundations can be found on GrantWatch.com, a search engine for grants, awards and other funding opportunities.

A good grant writers should possess a solid command of the written word and efficient research skills to craft a successful grant proposal that matches the interests of the funding source. The grant proposal is a document that makes a case for the request for money following all the requirements of the funding source. The task for the grant writer is to convey what the money will accomplish, who will benefit and why the funding source should support the work.

Hikind said the website GrantWriterTeam.com receives a high number of requests from organizations that seek qualified grant writers. Nonprofits, without the funds to hire a full time in-house grant writer often turn to GrantWriterTeam.  They complete a form to request a grant writer and the grant writers bid on their grant writing opportunity.

Winona City Council members appreciated Carlson’s grant proposal and were glad she took the initiative. In the city’s 2017 walking and biking plan, pedestrians and cyclist pointed to crossing Highway 61, in general, as one of the most troublesome areas.

Carlson began the research process by observing pedestrian bridges in neighboring cities, before turning her attention to writing a proposal. And while writing is only a small part of developing a proposal, Carlson said she relied on advice and feedback from funding organizations and agencies to articulate Winona’s problem.

“I would go through these little towns and see these beautiful recreation bridges,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why can’t Winona have that?’”

Libby invites Lynn Carlson, if she is interested and others, to pursue a rewarding career in grant writing.  After Lynn gets two more grants awarded, she would be eligible to join GrantWriterTeam. 

Libby Hikind said, "Passion to solve the need and a lot of spot-on research, speaks volumes to grant reviewers and is the advantage that propels one grant to be funded over any other."

Grant writers from all backgrounds who have the talent to craft a compelling grant proposal should sign up on GrantWriterTeam.com, a service of GrantWatch.com. Joining GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, fill out the application and begin to bid on grant writing jobs.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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Show Them the Money: Erie Grant Writer Eager to Provide Value to City

Show him the money. That’s the directive Erie Mayor Joe Schember has given the city’s first full-time grant writer.

Abby Skinner, who the city hired to successfully access local, state and federal funding resources, said addressing this priority is a grant writer’s dream. After all, she loves reading grant guidelines and has a database of funding opportunities to prove it.

Writing is just a small component of crafting a winning grant proposal. Skinner said before she starts writing, she must first determine if the grant is a good fit for Erie. That starts by understanding the parameters and guidelines attached to each opportunity and adhering to deadlines.

Skinner said templates and outlines can be helpful tools to gather information from colleagues and expedite grant applications. Her background reminds her that not all organizations have a full-time employee devoted to the process.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said organizations with limited human resources that don’t have the time or staff to identify funding sources and follow through on applications are always looking for qualified grant writers. These requests can be found on GrantWriterTeam.com, a service of GrantWatch. Applicants must first create a profile on GrantWriterTeam.com to review these positions at no cost.

Grant writers can earn upward of $100 an hour; however, most entry-level positions offer compensation around $25 per hour. Successful and reliable grant writers are often invited to enter into long-term contracts with many of these organizations.

Skinner was destined for Erie City Hall after building her grant-writing resume with the Warren County Historical Society, the Regional Center for Workforce Excellence and the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. She says the city has a plan and now a position in place to identify grant opportunities. It’s up to her to secure the money.

Grant Writers from all backgrounds who have the talent to craft a compelling grant proposal can search for grant writing opportunities at GrantWriterTeam.com, a service of GrantWatch.com. Joining the GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, fill out the application and begin to bid on grant writing jobs.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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Volunteer Turns Passion for Charitable Causes into Grant Writing Career

Preparing food, bagging non-perishable items for distribution, and delivering meals to homeless shelters, halfway houses and community centers proved to be an ideal way for Emily Francis to make the most of Spring Break.

Little did she know those humble experiences at a food bank in between semesters at Ithaca College would eventually reward her with career in grant writing.

Francis is a foundations relations associate for the Capital Area Food Bank, in Washington, D.C., where she writes grant proposals for the nonprofit she had volunteered at, a few years ago. And while writing all the time is her dream job, Francis said helping to provide healthy and nutritious foods to people in need really resonates with her.

For wordsmiths like Francis who paired her background in journalism with a passion for charitable causes, grant writing can be a good fit.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said the website GrantWriterTeam.com receives a high number of requests for qualified grant writers. Nonprofits that have internal grant writers on overload or new organizations that can’t afford the annual salary of a staff writer turn to GrantWriterTeam.com to post available opportunities.

FREE GrantWriterTeam Membership

GrantWriterTeam.com has 34 grant-writing jobs open for bids. Applicants must create a profile that illustrates their writing experience and includes a list of 3-5 grants awarded, writing samples, and references. During February, grant writers can bid on any or all of these jobs without a fee.

"Potential clients are seeking qualities beyond great grant writing skills," said Hikind. 

Grant writers can earn upward of $40 an hour. Successful and reliable grant writers are often invited to write additional grants under long-term contracts with many of these organizations.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch.com

The Secret Life of Grant Reviewers – What Exactly Are They Looking For?

I am a federal grants reviewer and have been for approximately seven years. There are very specific reasons why federal grants fail to get funded — and those reasons can go well beyond poor program design or not following the rules. I can therefore bring the perspective of a grants reviewer — whose job is to assign point values based on the rubric provided for each section of a grant.

Grants writers who are not clear and concise consistently lose points in program design, sustainability, program goals and objectives, and sections dealing with community partnerships.

Have you ever wondered what causes one reviewer to score a grant application high, while another receives a lower score? What makes each perspective differ?  What guidelines can I follow to ensure that I have written the strongest grant application possible given my writing style. Does it matter that I lose points in some areas of the grant that may not be weighted as heavily as other sections? Why? Why not?

The 21st Century Learning Grant is, perhaps, one of the largest federal after-school program grants in the nation. I have served on a state vision team for this grant for many years (these are half-million dollar, multi-year grants). The current emphasis is on community partnerships because they reflect long-term relationships, authenticity, and true sharing of resources.

Reviewers examine budgets to determine the overall quality and strength of a proposal, but differ on what makes a strong grant versus a mediocre one. What will carry weight with any reviewer is how much detail the applicant provides in terms of the what are you planning to do, where, how, when, and how will you measure your success. Reviewers don't make final funding decisions; but their individual scores on any application factors in heavily. An understanding of how they score and what matters to them in distinguishing one application from another is essential.

"A grant writer's job is to fully respond to every single point raised by the funding source," said Libby Hikind, CEO of GrantWriterTeam. "The weight of a score for a particular section is for guidance purposes, only. Never, ever do you leave out any question or point. The weights are subject to change. At the time of review, a section can be deemed unfair or not clear and then all weights are readjusted."

"If your organization cannot respond with experience and clarity to a specific question or point, consider a partnership with an organization that you have an established understanding of referral or some working relationship," said Hikind. "Their experience and expertise will strengthen your proposal and touch on the point." 

About the Author: Elaine Rose Penn is an experienced and successful reviewer of federal grants.

How to Write an Effective Needs Statements for Grant Proposals

All nonprofits are created to serve the needs of a target audience.

Funding organizations want to know what these needs are in grant applications. The money a funding source will allocate for projects and services will be determined by how effectively nonprofits can convey these needs in the grant proposal process and how they will use the requested funds to meet the need. 

All grant applications must always include a needs statement. The purpose of a needs statement in a grant proposal is to present both facts and stories to support the needs for a project or program. How well the applicant addresses those needs will determine the success of the proposal.

Prior to writing a needs statement, the grant writer should understand what the problem is and its nature, reasons and causes. The needs statement should define why this problem is both important to the applicant and of interest to the funding source. Compelling needs make for compelling projects worthy of funding. 

According to Libby Hikind, CEO and founder of GrantWriterTeam.com, "A grant writer works with the organization to determine the needs of the target audience and research the current data to support the need within the application. The need may be supported through newspaper articles, data sources, surveys, maps, literature, published research and or interviews."

An effective needs statement must grab the attention of the funding source and communicate the urgency of the problem in terms of human interest anchored by hard facts. To do so, a needs statement should

  1. clearly relate to the mission and purpose of the applicant;
  2. describe the problem and the people who would be served;
  3. and be supported by evidence including statistics, expert views, and current events.

Libby Hikind explained, "The grant writer should review their draft needs statement with the organization's Board.  While the grant writer may be happy painting the dimmest picture of the target community to increase the chances of being awarded the grant, the Board may not want the application to be as severe.  There is a fine line between stating the urgency and defining a population in the grimmest of terms.  Be careful what you write and how you write it!"

About the Author: Staff Writer for Grant Writing Institute

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In High-Demand: GrantWriterTeam Connects Proven Grant Writers to Job Opportunities

The city’s first splash pad isn’t scheduled for completion until June, but Candy Jones can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when the water playground becomes operational.

Jones has been the city of Conway’s grant administrator for less than a year, yet, she’s already knocking projects out of the park including the proposal she wrote that won a $165,000 matching grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to build the splash pad in Laurel Park. Writing with a purpose has been gratifying for Jones, who has helped the city acquire almost $900,000 for projects that will help to improve the quality of life for the community. Proven grant writers, like Jones, are in demand.

Bonnie Houk, the director of grants management for the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush, says her history background prepared her with the essential research skills she needs to perform her job. As a grant writer, Houk said she tells the story and history of the organization she is writing for to the funding source. Her work has obtained more than $70 million in grant funding for school districts, municipalities and organizations.

Grant writers come from all backgrounds. Nicole Ambrosio told a skeptical audience at the Westerlo board meeting that she had been working in education before she was hired on as the town’s first grant writer.

Although success is never guaranteed, grant writers have a better chance of writing a good proposal if they’re passionate about the causes for which they seek funds.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, says she built GrantWriterTeam in response to the steady stream of requests from grant seekers who are looking for grant writers to help secure funds for their projects from public and private foundations, government sources and corporations.  Not all government agencies or nonprofits have the time, experience, staff or skills needed to prepare a winning proposal. Our clients include nonprofits, charitable organizations, museums, schools and small businesses.

Grant writers at GrantWriterTeam are sometimes required to do any of the following: assist in creating a nonprofit, nonprofit grant research, draft and submit proposals, write curriculum and or create a UHelp.com crowdfunding fundraiser.  Hikind said, GrantWriterTeam.com, is a service of GrantWatch.

Joining the GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, sign your contract with us, pay your membership fee and enter your PayPal email (to receive payments),  When all is complete, you will be able to bid on as many jobs as you want as long as your membership is current. Whenever a grant seeker chooses you, be it while you are a paid member or a few months down the road, the job is still yours.  Membership is only required to bid, and your contract, however remains in effect.

Like all self-employed occupations, finding enough work can be challenging and it disrupts the writing process. Hikind said GrantWriterTeam consolidates the imposing search-for-work process and the need to market yourself.

 

 

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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Are You a Grant Writer?

Grant writers are always looking for new clients. Fortunately, there is a large pool of clients from which to choose. We have 10 new clients seeking grant writers. Get an added week or month on GrantWatch.com when you sign up and bid on any of these grant writing jobs.

Professional grant writers working with GrantWriterTeam increase their client base. A GrantWriterTeam grant writer has many benefits, such as the convenience of creating your own schedule and the freedom to write whenever, whatever and wherever. 

The perks don’t stop there! If you’re on the fence about joining GrantWriterTeam.com. As a grant writer, you are always looking for the next clients. 

Look no further, because with GrantWriterTeam, we get new clients daily.

All grant writers are paid through our easy-to-use contract and deliverables system. If a payment issue arises, we intervene on your behalf.

Grant Writer Jobs Available for Bids

About the Author: Staff writer for GrantWriterTeam

Nonprofit Owes Debt of Gratitude to Student Grant Writer at Illinois Wesleyan Univeristy

Melissa Breeden, (left), senior director of YWCA Young Wonders, and Savanna Steck, ’18, collaborated on a $500 grant proposal enabling the YWCA to purchase an industrial sink and faucet.

The kitchen update looks like a new industrial sink and faucet, but to staff at YMCA McLean County, the recent purchase will not only save money on catering costs, but help provide for the preparation of nutritious food onsite for more than 330 young children in their care throughout the year.

Mellissa Breeden, senior director of the YMCA Young Wonders program, said the nonprofit organization owes a debt of gratitude to Savanna Steck, a student at Illinois Wesleyan University who wrote the proposal for the kitchen project that earned the $500 award.

Grant writing is easier said than done for many nonprofits that don’t have designated staff or the human resources to perform the bulk of the work involved in winning a competitive award. The task is made more difficult considering that, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States – including public charities, private foundations, chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues – are competing for funding dollars from limited sources.

YMCA McLean County was fortunate to obtain the services of Steck and her classmates, who competed against one another on behalf of the local nonprofit for the $500 grant funded by IWU’s Action Research Center. But, not all nonprofits are as lucky to have a qualified writer at their disposal. Those that continue to struggle to produce a highly competitive grant proposal will stand to lose out on opportunities that can be few and far between.

Nearly $390 billion in grants were awarded to charitable organizations in 2016; up 2.7 percent from the year before. Individuals accounted for 72 percent of all gifts, but foundations and corporations made significant contributions as well.

Human services charities like the YMCA Young Warriors program accounted for 12 percent of all donations. These awards are considered the lifeblood of nonprofits of all sizes that depend largely on grants to continue operations.

Every successful proposal begins with a thorough review of opportunities. Finding these funding sources can dramatically impact a nonprofit, but Identifying a grant writer that can convey the mission of an organization to the focus of a donor can be equally as challenging.

Many nonprofits as well as small businesses and government agencies that cannot invest in hiring or training a grant writer will turn to GrantWriterTeam.com. Proposal writers at GrantWriterTeam.com can translate your ideas to create a compelling statement that markets your organization and demonstrates the effectiveness of your product or service to the funding source.

Grant writing is a skilled craft that involves time, accurate management plans and well-packaged reporting mechanisms. The process and the ability to communicate a vision should not be underestimated.

Writers at GrantWriterTeam.com will collect your background data, articulate your concepts and ensure that your arguments are well-documented. Grant writing can be extremely puzzling and require multiple applications before achieving success. If you don’t have the time and energy to commit to a proposal, GreatWriterTeam.com will help you find a qualified writer who does.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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Begin with the End in Mind

Imagine winning that dream grant with GrantWatch that covers your costs for a fantastic new program. It pays for start-up costs, implementation and even administration. Everything is great until report time, when you realize your program activities and promised goals are miles apart. Your staff did every activity promised, except the most important one – achieving the one goal that the funding source wanted. Suddenly, your dream grant is a nightmare.

All funding sources give out money to accomplish their objectives. Most grant applications and guidelines make it plain. They don’t tell you how to do it (that’s up to you to figure out), but they tell you what they want. That’s why you must begin with the end in mind.

I’m assuming anyone reading this post knows to read the grant application and guidelines thoroughly. Preferably, you read them twice. (Yes, even the federal RFPs that take 10,000 words to relay 1,000 words of useful instruction.) As you read, make special note of

  1. The funder’s overarching goal and
  2. The funder’s perspective on the crisis that motivated them to help.

A follow-up conversation with the funder’s program director can give you more clarification on their goals. You also connect with the person who is the gateway to the review committee. It pays to listen to their jargon, as these are the words that will build credibility in your proposa, and you can bounce your ideas off them to see which ones get traction.


When you understand what the funder’s overarching goal is, you are in a better position to evaluate whether you can deliver. Identify how your actions will create a tangible, measurable change in your target audience that mirrors the funder’s desired outcome. One good outcome is worth a hundred fuzzy ones.

For an example, let’s walk through a process for the Bruening Foundation to drill down to its real goal:

“Connect families to resources to address immediate or crisis needs and assist them to access long-term social service benefits (e.g. child care subsidies, the Earned Income Tax Credit, health insurance, and food stamps).”

Do you see two overarching goals here?

  1. Address immediate or crisis needs.
  2. Assist with gaining long-term social service benefits.

The guidelines should yield an idea of why the funding source chose this focus area. Private grants will often link to or cite research. If the guidelines don’t help you with understanding the funder’s perspective, call the program manager (there’s a theme here.) This information will strengthen your grant and impress the funder in which you are interested.

Bruening says it wants to “address immediate or crisis needs.”

What does that mean to Bruening? Its website helps:

“We know that economic adversity experienced early in life compromises brain development, health and earnings over a lifetime. The ages between 0-3 are the critical years. This short window of time is our opportunity to disrupt the consequences of poverty.”

That language tells us that the foundation wants interventions that will help poor children obtain the same developmental milestones that their more affluent counterparts will obtain. (Yes, it’s in there.)

“We support efforts targeted to young children with the understanding that the benefits of social and educational interventions are strongest in the earliest years.”

Now you know more about what the foundation really wants.

Here’s how your goal might look now:

Address immediate or crisis needs of children in poverty that, if not addressed before age three, will slow their readiness for learning.

Or

Address immediate or crisis needs of very young children in poverty that will impede their development and readiness for school.

There’s even more gold on the Bruening website. When you look at their previous gifts, you learn that it gave money to the Children’s Museum of Cleveland for its service to children aged from newly born to eight years old. The content features a grant to study cost-of-quality for home-child-care providers. Previous gifts a funder makes can tell you more about its goals.

This funding source did not sit down one day and decide it would throw a bunch of money at anything that might help children. Its own language tells us it used research showing why some children don’t do as well in school and what can change that dynamic. That is where Bruening is aiming its investments. When your activities and performance are built around the funder’s specific goal, you can plan your program's elements specifically to reach those goals. Begin with the end in mind to create the program that achieves the results you promised your funding source and your mission.   

About the Author: Cameron began her career with a degree in journalism and spent several years as a news reporter and freelancer. She next obtained an MPA and launched a career as a Senior Program Developer and, over 20 years, as Executive Director of two non-profits. She has extensive experience in grant writing for local, state, federal and private funding.

Explore The Potential of Your Organization

Explore the potential of your organization with a grant writer. Hire a GRANT WRITER when your staff cannot effectively research, write and complete grant proposals while engaging in their current programmatic responsibilities. GRANT WRITERS assist Nonprofits, Small Businesses, Government Agencies and Individuals with a variety of services.

Researching for grant prospects: Locating federal, state & local grants; and Finding foundation grants and contracts. 

Grant writing: Writing proposal narratives; Developing budgets; researching the needs of the target population; Completing needs assessments; and Researching literature for best practices. 

Evaluating programs: Preparing evaluation reports; and Monitoring quality assurance. 

Crowdfunding: Developing crowdfunding campaigns for: Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits. Teacher and students, Artists, Inventors, Researchers, Start-ups, Social movements, Sports teams, Social media strategies, Fundraising materials, and Identifying perks for contributors. 

Developing business plans: Evaluate business needs; Develop marketable programs; and Identifying venture or angel funding. 

Writing and developing curriculum: Educational surveys; Research exiting curricula; and Writing age-appropriate curriculum.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWriterTeam