Thursday, January 5, 2012

The End of the Grant Writing Info

From GPL Book Arts Project:
At the risk of putting folks to sleep, I am going to now return to sharing information about the grant writing process.  I know, I know.  Writing a grant is not the most exciting thing to read about, but it is a good skill to have.  AND I’ve made a solemn vow to share as much as I know in the hopes that someone will benefit from it.

The last section of the Alabama State Council on the Arts application that I addressed was Section C, so I’ll begin with Section D…which requested a list of “the primary artists, persons, and/or groups involved in the implementation of this project or activity and the qualifications of each person and/or group.”  This is merely a request for the names of the folks who will make the magic happen for the duration of the project, and the things that make them qualified to do so (degrees and institutions, please).  Simple stuff.

Next, the very thorough Section E requested a mass of statistical information for our institution, such as the year our foundation was incorporated, members on our board, the number of professional staff members, and our mission statement.  Additional information in this section included reporting “Performance Indicators,” meaning number of schools, youth, teachers, artists and individuals benefiting from our institution in the past year, the current year and next year (a projection).  Our library does a very extensive end of year report each year, so it was easy to track down figures for last year.  As far as this year is concerned, I keep track of all program statistics (in-house and outreach), so I was able to estimate what our numbers would look like at the end of 2011.  And I worked a little math to get the percentage of increase we typically see each year to project what 2012 would look like.  So there.  Done.

The section that I was most concerned about in the ENTIRE grant writing process happened to be the final section of the grant application, Section F.  Section F is the section of the grant where one must “describe how the proposed project/activity fits the general evaluation criteria specified in the guidelines on page 8” (of the ASCA Guidelines Book).  There were eleven General Evaluation Criteria in the ASCA Guidelines Book that had to be addressed concisely and thoroughly, so I had to turn off my stream-of-consciousness brain in order to write this section.  I added no frills, nor second spaces after my use of a period (the character count made sure of it…I think I had two characters to spare when it was all said and done).  Here are my responses to each of the criteria (I recommend that you look at the Guidelines Book to read the guidelines as they are stated by ASCA…then my responses will make more sense):

1)This project will provide free quality experiences for the community by featuring in-house lectures by artists and authors; demonstrations by letterpress printers, bookmakers, and papermakers; and educational community outreach at local schools and living facilities. We will also provide a venue for community members to share the creative results of their participation in the project (final exhibit).
2)Educational benefits include in-house lectures, demonstrations, and outreach. Educational benefits will continue after the project’s completion through continued letterpress and papermaking outreach.

3)Over the past six years, the GPL has built its free public programming and workshops from one program a week to almost five-hundred programs a year. Last year’s statistics indicate that 8,669 individuals benefited from our in-house and outreach programming (outreach consists of working mostly with the underserved populations, specifically with high-risk youth, the elderly, and the displaced). We currently receive support from and collaborate with all local schools (city, county, homeschool) and colleges, as well as the City of Gadsden, Downtown Gadsden, Inc., Etowah County Tourism, Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden Museum of Art, and Red Cross of Etowah County.

4)The potential for long-term impact of this project is great. Equipment purchased through the grant will allow the GPL to continue with educational letterpress and papermaking outreach and in-house demonstrations long after the initial project ends.  We anticipate continued public book arts projects and collaboration on future book arts programming with the professional book arts individuals with whom we will be working.

5)All participating authors, printers, bookmakers, and papermakers will be encouraged to bring examples of their work for display and for sale, so that they may benefit from their visit while educating the public about book arts.

6)We will share Alabama’s living cultural heritage by providing the community with educational opportunities to meet and work with Alabama letterpress printers, bookmakers, and papermakers. We will strive to preserve Alabama’s living cultural heritage by continuing to collaborate with Alabama letterpress printers, bookmakers, and papermakers and by offering educational opportunities through library programming that will continue long after the grant project.

7)We anticipate all artists and participants to come from differing ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as from differing age and gender groups.

8) The GPL is fully handicap accessible and currently makes reasonable accommodations/modifications to its patrons with special needs.

9) We will create partnerships with local city, county and homeschool districts, thereby providing much needed supplementary educational opportunities for community students. We will also develop partnerships within the retirement/aging sector of the community by providing continuing education to those residents who are fifty-five or older.

10) The GPL was completely renovated and technologically updated in 2004-2006. It is a facility with ample space to accommodate the lectures, demonstrations, and workshops associated with this project. The main lecture room has the capacity to seat seventy-five individuals while allowing room for lectures, demonstrations and workshops.

11) The personnel involved in planning and implementation are all highly-qualified, mastered-level (or MLS seeking) librarians who are skilled at creating and overseeing quality programs and events.

Does that all make sense?  Is anyone out there still awake after this blog post?  If it is any consolation, my favorite response from someone proofing one of my grants came from my coworker, IT Guy.  His feedback consisted of, “I expected more action in your narrative, and I think you need more character development.”  Big help, he was.
For those of you who ARE still awake, I am now finished with the grant writing process portion of this blog.  I promise to keep future posts shorter and less technical…I think.


Eric Wright said...

Do you know how awesome you are for sharing this information? Most grant writers are so secretive about the process, afraid that they are going to lose out to somebody else.

Thanks for sharing.

La_Petit_Rouge said...

You are quite welcome!

You are correct in your observation that most grant writers work in secret. Which is a shame. I know that money is often scare, but I would like to think that there is enough money out there for all the good ideas. And some ideas are better than others. I've had some good ideas and some bad ideas. The good ideas received funding, and the not so good ones didn't. It was the non-funded ideas that challenged me to completely reevaluate my proposed projects from every perspective.

Competition is good for all of us. It makes us think a little harder about what we are doing, or what we aim to do.