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Taking a PCC class leads to $55,000 grant
Photos and Story by Janis Nichols
It’s rather extraordinary to hit a grand slam your first time at bat. Yet that’s exactly what PCC student Barbara Nelson did when she wrote her very first grant proposal as part of a grant writing course at the Sylvania Campus. Her effort resulted in a $55,000 grant for the Domestic Violence Resource Center (DCRC) in Hillsboro.
“My team partner, Linda Johnson, and I volunteered with the DVRC which supports the Family Justice Center,” said Nelson. “I focused my grant on the FJC and submitted it to Meyer Memorial Trust. We requested $75,000 and were awarded $55,000.”
The funding will allow the FJC to organize 35 stakeholders in Washington County, including law enforcement, civil courts, faith-based communities and social service agencies who deal with crime victims. The FJC serves Hillsboro, Tigard, Sherwood, Beaverton, Aloha, Cornelius, Forest Grove and Gaston.
“The FJC is a one-stop shop for crime victims that offers legal and social services, advocacy and family services,” Nelson said. “It works to help victims through the legal system. It’s a good thing for Washington County. It’s also a good thing for the college because PCC students are frequently assisted by the center.”
Rick Horton, who teaches the grant writing course at Sylvania Campus, says students are taught how to work together as a team and how to incorporate the essential elements needed for a compelling proposal.
“To write a competitive funding proposal, teams of students are required to work successfully with a selected non-profit to identify a priority project,” he said. “They must be clear how the project addresses the agency’s mission and, as a team, develop a compelling case for support. The best proposals tell a compelling story. In addition to a written proposal, students are also required to present their case for support to the class.”
Nelson presented her proposal in a way that Horton says will stick with him for a long time.
“Barbara and another student (Linda Johnson) created a performance. Barbara had the role of a domestic violence victim seeking help, and the other student was the agency representative who sends her from one agency to another agency with little success. It was remarkable,” said Horton.
The winning grant is not Nelson’s first experience with assisting nonprofit organizations. She had taken Introduction to Nonprofits and Philanthropy and later served as a teaching assistant for that same class taught by Sylvania Business Administration Instructor Cynthia Killingsworth.
“The Introduction to Non-Profits and Philanthropy class is also the home of the Students 4 Giving project,” Killingsworth said. “Started eight years ago, Students 4 Giving awards $10,000 a year to competing non-profit programs. Students like Barbara are required to review the mission statements, budgets, and proposals from a number of non-profit organizations. Site visits and staff interviews follow. The students must then come together as a group and decide how to award the $10,000.”
While grant writing success has come quickly, it has taken Nelson more than a while to find her place in academia. She has taken classes at Mt. Hood Community College and on three of PCC’s four campuses, and for the past three years the Rock Creek Campus has been her home base. Now, with knowledge gleaned from the non-profit philanthropy and grant writing classes, Nelson is directing her professional future.
“I knew what I wanted to do,” Nelson said, “but I didn’t know how to define it. I’m on track now.”“The classes at Sylvania gave me the tools to tackle this challenge,” adds Nelson. “My volunteer work with several social service agencies and my professional experience in project management helped me tell a compelling story to Meyer Memorial Trust. It was a collaborative effort involving both the DVRC and the FJC. Grant writing is definitely a team sport.”