Reflection and Presentation

Reflection is incorporated into the course in three ways: discussion, a guided reflection paper, and a presentation. Throughout the course, students reflect on the community partner, the audience served, and specific aspects of programming through the actual writing of the grant components, discussion with classmates, and through the feedback process. Through writing the various components of a grant proposal, students come to understand the community, the target audience in question, and the role of the community partner in filling community needs. This understanding is much more thorough and nuanced than simply talking about a particular agency or community issue. The students put themselves in the shoes of the community partner and come to feel the passion for the target audience or the issue about which they are writing. Throughout the process, the discussions, reflection activities, and group work allow faculty and student peers to interact about substantive matters. Faculty, students, and community partners work together to discuss community needs, resources, and solutions.

The second reflection opportunity comes at the end of the semester through a reflection paper in which students describe their community fundraising experience, reflect on the role of fundraising within family and community services, and compare and contrast their community fundraising experience with their grant-writing experience. This reflection activity allows the student to see grant writing in the context of fundraising and the role that grant writing plays in the field of family and community services.

The final reflection opportunity is a presentation. Not only is presenting an important mode of reflection, but effectively presenting one’s ideas is a necessary skill when working with individuals and families in the community (Taylor & Ballard, 2012) and with potential funders. After a discussion on where to find different types of grants, each group finds three potential funders for their specific grant. At the end of the semester, students present their grant proposals to their community partner and/ or their classmates as if they were presenting to one of the three potential funders they found and persuading them to fund the project. To help them succeed, each student takes a prerequisite communications course in which they learn the theories and principles of public speaking and giving presentations. We also review and discuss tips for giving a group presentation. Students have to be professionally dressed and stand in the front of the class (not surround the podium). They present to the class as if their classmates are the funders and present their grant proposal with the goal of getting funded. Community partners can be invited to the presentation as well which adds an additional level of authenticity to the presentation. The presentations are recorded and students have an opportunity to review their presentations. Students critique their presentation style and speaking skills. Eisenberg (2003) reiterates that students have an opportunity to reflect on what they could have done better, what they learned, and what was most helpful about the experience. Presenting the proposals allows students to think through each step of the grant process one more time which tends to solidify the grant components in their brain. Additionally, the presentation allows students to practice their persuasive presentation skills and to implement the important aspects of fundraising helping the audience feel a connection to the need.

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