Writing for Grants

Through reading about the grant application process, I was able to gain a new perspective into our work with SpeakOut!: the continuation, expansion, and preservation of the literate practices of the CLC. Grants serve as an extension of current work, as well as a vehicle for future projects or innovative thinking. I very much appreciated the sample grant given from last year’s “Writing and Violence: A Community Literacy Training” as it proved to be a helpful resource when thinking about potential grants or projects for which to submit an application. Moreover, I would be very interested to hear the outcomes of this training.

With that being said, last year’s grant stimulated many ideas for possible trainings for next spring, somewhat in keeping with the themes of “Writing and Violence” and “Writing and Trauma.” Although topics such as loss or grief are frequently broached, the men’s group also draw on their experiences with addiction, parenting, and self-guilt. While the 2011-2012 grant mentioned “substance abuse/violence and at-risk writers” as a specific area for training, I did not see any consultants or other personnel associated with the event who had a background in substance abuse or addiction. Whether the men are struggling with their own addictions or have lived through someone else’s, this is a persistent topic of writing and discussion; one that many men, as well as women and teens, are clearly afflicted by.

The issue of self-guilt and self-criticism is regularly mentioned, as well, and likewise raises concerns about how to facilitate effectively around such sensitive topics. When the men reflect upon their past, and future for that matter, their writing becomes extremely personal, emotional, and often dark. I wonder as to the best methods for moderating such a discussion, as well as how to maintain appropriate boundaries with the men’s group so as not to incite emotional or psychological trauma through the recollection of a negative or painful memory.

Although both addiction and self-guilt may involve feelings of trauma or be associated with violence, I think trainings specific to such issues would also be beneficial. In addition, I feel that any speakers with experience or familiarity with working with such populations as the incarcerated or at-risk youth would prove enlightening to our own work with SpeakOut!. In particular, these trainings would provide opportunity for further development and enhancement of our [SpeakOut! staff] skills and capabilities as workshop facilitators and volunteers.

In terms of future grants to which we could possibly apply, I would be interested in funding that would support the publication of longer works. Many of the inmates from the men’s group have memoirs, novels, or lengthy collections of poems, short stories, or illustrations which they would like published, however are too substantial to submit to the SpeakOut! Journal. I only performed a cursory internet search for such grants, but to no avail. The search continues…

One potential concern associated with grant writing is clarity in purpose statements. More specifically, I worry about effectively communicating the objective and potential benefit of a certain project so as to arouse support among those funding or awarding the grants. While the advantages of a project are surely quiet salient to those affiliated with a program or organization, difficulties arise when trying to demonstrate the necessity for such trainings as the “Writing and Violence: A Community Literacy Training.” Is it appropriate [or even advantageous to a grant-writer] to include best practices, statistics, evaluations or critiques from programs, meetings, or trainings similar to the one for which we are completing a grant application?

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