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Navigating grant proposals

Securing a financial grant can boost community initiatives that will launch a new program or build upon an existing one. The Purdue Extension Community Development program assists Indiana communities by offering Beginner’s Guide to Grant Writing (BGGW), a program that helps beginner and experienced grant writers develop their ideas into successful proposals. 

Kris Parker, Purdue Extension community development regional educator and a program facilitator, says participants of the grant writing workshop learn how to write effectively, increasing their chances for success. 

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“It’s a competitive world and we work with our participants to help them develop their ideas and turn them into well-written proposals, in addition to identifying potential funders. We help navigate the entire grant process from development to submission,” Parker said. 

Since the program’s relaunch four years ago, participants have received nearly $4.7 million in grant funding. Participants include staff and volunteers from local governments, nonprofits, community groups and clubs, and citizens seeking to improve their communities. More than 800 people have participated in BGGW, logging more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service to their communities with a public value estimated at more than $50,000. 

The pandemic created additional challenges for many Indiana nonprofit organizations and small businesses. George Chimples, Film, Fundraising and Grants Coordinator at Franklin Heritage Inc., said COVID-19 shutdown orders impacted their operational funds, but the knowledge he gained through BGGW helped him secure grants to stay open. 

“I didn’t have any formal training in grant writing before the Purdue Extension workshops,” Chimples said. “I found the information I learned to be invaluable for what we’ve been doing and this program helped our organization secure the money to remain viable in this very tough time,” he added. 

Parker said participants’ success motivates her efforts. 

“Purdue Extension is invested in the success of our grant writers, and I think one of the strongest aspects of our program is that we a make concerted effort to provide feedback and ongoing support long after the classes have ended,” she said. 

Beth Duvall, office manager at Peaceable Primates Sanctuary near Winamac, Ind., said she enjoyed the networking opportunities from the workshop while gaining new skills that benefit the sanctuary. 

“It was a pleasure working with the grant writing team,” Duvall said. “I enjoyed meeting the non-profit agencies and learning how to be detail-oriented in how we write and communicate our needs through grant proposals. This learning outcome has extended to all of our communication efforts from the ways we seek donations to the newsletters we send.”

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