Teaching Grant Writing to Undergraduate Students: A High-Impact Experience

The Family and Community Services (FCS) program at East Carolina University (ECU) is an undergraduate degree program designed to prepare students to work with individuals and families or systems across the lifespan. Many FCS graduates work in non-profit child and family agencies where fundraising has always been important but has become even more critical in these challenging economic times. Fundraising includes events ranging from car washes to dinners with auctions or writing proposals to grant-making agencies. In order for students to be successfully employed, it is important to recognize that in addition to client-based skills, students need sustainability skills such as fundraising and grant writing(Wark, 2008).

B.L. Jorgensen (*)

Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

S.M. Ballard • A. Taylor • E. Carroll

Department of Human Development and Family Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

E. Baugh

Department of Human Development and Family Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

© The Author(s) 2017

T. Newman, A. Schmitt (eds.), Field-Based Learning in Family Life Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39874-7_18

Community-based learning experiences can facilitate skills training and practical hands-on learning translates into well-prepared professionals that have the skill set to be successful in the workplace and to make a positive difference for families (Griffith, Hart, & Goodling, 2006; Taylor & Ballard, 2012). The purpose of this chapter is to describe how competencies in fundraising are incorporated into the FCS curriculum and to describe the methods we use to teach the grant-writing process.

Students in FCS take a course entitled “Theory and Practice in Family and Community Services.” This course is part of a sequence of courses designed to effectively prepare students through progressively more complex and challenging service-learning components. We provide an overview of fundraising including types of fundraising, why people give, and how to maximize fundraising activities. This information then is applied through two service-learning projects. The first is to participate in a fundraising activity with an agency or organization, which can include face-to-face involvement with activities such as a rock-a-thon, bake sale, or a large event like a fashion show. Students may help with the organization, marketing, or implementation of the fundraising activity.

The second service-learning project, writing a grant proposal for a community partner, is the main focus of this chapter. We will address identifying and working with community partners, the writing and peer- review process, reflection, and presentation. We conclude with recommendations and quotes from students who have completed the course projects. Throughout the chapter, we illustrate how this experience meets the following elements of a high-impact experience for students: (1) students spend considerable amounts of time on the meaningful tasks, (2) faculty and student peers interact about substantive matters, (3) students receive frequent performance feedback, (4) activities have applications to different settings on/off campus, and (5) authentic connections are made with peers, faculty, community, and/or the university (Kuh, 2008).

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