As you know, the last two years have seen a marked decline in foundation assets across the country and its resulting effect on grant distributions to not-for-profit agencies. Therefore, Washington Square Health Foundation conducted the “Grant In-Service Workshop” on December 5, 2003, to help select grantees prepare proposals that will provide for the services they need and which are fundable by our Foundation as well as others. It was held in the Washington Square Health Foundation funded, UIC School of Public Health’s Washington Square Health Foundation Multimedia Community Conference Center. The workshop was designed to enhance the organizations’ funding prospects, and it was a great success.
As the thirty workshop participants arrived indoors out from our first Chicago snow of the season, they were greeted with breakfast and settled in for welcoming remarks by Grant Committee Chairman William N. Werner, MD, MPH who gave a history of the Foundation and spoke of the meaning of Washington Square’s grant making; the community-based philosophy that drives the Board of Directors to guide the Foundation’s giving in the areas and programs that can be of the most benefit to those they serve.
It was an inspiring beginning to a valuable day of learning. At the close of Dr. Werner’s comments, Executive Director Howard Nochumson addressed the grantees and made full use of the advanced technology in the Washington Square Health Foundation Multimedia Community Conference Center. Using the touch-to-click screen instead of a mouse, he walked the grantees through the Washington Square website, showing them the types of grants that the Foundation has funded in the past and that have made a significant impact.
He continued, guiding them through the grant application process transitioning between the website, his PowerPoint Presentation, and an overhead projector, to drive home the components of a proposal that are so necessary to a successful project, and that are too often overlooked. Upon conclusion of these remarks the workshop participants were invited to gather in three small groups to discuss and receive feedback on the one-page proposal abstract, that was their “ticket” into the workshop. Howard Nochumson and the consultants, Kathleen Pietschmann, RN, ND, CS and Mary Driscoll, RN, MPH, facilitated the groups.
Each group discussion was led in a manner unique to its facilitator. All three methods worked marvelously well for the individuals involved, as was apparent by the enthusiastic responses to both the one-on-one, and group discussions. The workshop made excellent use of the space and materials available. In minutes the room went from a classroom setting to a more intimate and lively room speckled with clusters of tables and chairs filled with discourses about grant writing styles, and specific aspects that must be incorporated.
Discussions arose on a variety of topics:
- As new ideas and trends in health care evolve, does the definition of Washington Square’s funding areas evolve as well?
- What is health care now?
- How should grantees evaluate their programs?
- How should the grantee measure quantifiable outcomes?
- With whom should they collaborate and in what ways?
At the close of the sessions the guests gave an overwhelmingly positive response to the format and information shared. Important contacts were made within the organizations represented at the workshop.
Participants lingered after the conclusion of the workshop to speak with potential new colleagues, and consultants and staff to ask for additional information that might pertain to their specific grant writing and to congratulate them on a job well-done.