Someone recently told me that I’m good at getting others to pay for what I want to do. It was an Aha! moment for me. Suddenly it all clicked. I write grant proposal on behalf of school districts or community colleges or other entities wanting funding to do what they wanted to do. I’m currently in the middle of a grant proposal so my love is tempered by the reality of deadlines and sleep deprivation. Usually after a grant proposal is submitted, I feel euphoria and a big sense of accomplishment and the love for grant writing returns in full force.

Writing grant proposals to improve public education is my passion. I like filling out applications and grants have lots of forms to complete. Grants give explicit instructions on what should be included. I like having parameters. I have a routine: I start every proposal with writing out the section headings and what needs to be included in each section. This is the framework or skeleton within which I build the body of the proposal. From there, I can be creative. If I am writing on behalf of others, they tell me the programs or interventions they want funded. I come up with education research to support why their programs/interventions are good ideas. When there is a creative group to work with, this process is fun. We can bounce ideas, dream big on how to improve education for youth. Another important part of a proposal is the budget. I usually don’t like numbers, but I like doing proposal budgets because I know funders want to make sure the budget reflects what is written in the proposal and vice versa. Knowing this tidbit may give my grants a higher score than others that miss this detail. My favorite part about grant proposals is the deadline because once a proposal is submitted (all of my proposals have been submitted on time), it is DONE. Then the waiting begins, but my job is done and I can move on to something else.

For my personality, grant writing works. I feel I have my greatest impact through writing successful grant proposals. They help fund programs for youth that would otherwise not happen. Some grants I’ve written funded a character leaders program, elementary counseling program, and programs in career and technical education. Typically, grant proposals are quick turnaround (a long time is a few months – more often, it is 3-4 weeks) and I like working under pressure. I like meeting new people and learning about different communities and schools. I’ve met some amazing people through this process and have enjoyed working with them. The best part: finding out the grant has been funded and knowing that what I wrote will have to be implemented as written because it’s now a contract with the funder. For someone who studied public policy, grant writing is a roundabout way to establish policies.

When I was asked by Excel Youth Zone to give a talk to teens at their first annual PeaceJam Slam last Saturday. I came up with the title, “How to Get Others to Pay for What You Want to Do” for that session. I talked mainly about doing something with passion. The participating teens all do service-learning and they were interested in finding money to do more service projects. I feel like if they can express what they want to do with passion, enthusiasm (plus throw in their personal stories) and explain why they are passionate about it, they will be one step closer to finding people to pay for what they want to do.

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