Last month, LX and BYU hosted two sessions in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series. In our second January webinar, we discussed how partnerships can enhance experiential learning projects with panelists Jaynie Mitchell (Grant Developer, BYU), and Dana Stephenson (CEO, Riipen).
Starting a Grant-Worthy Program
Dana Stephenson from Riipen joined our discussion with his perspective on the types of projects that consistently earn grants. He divides all projects seeking grants or funding into three types: pilot projects, research projects, and large-scale experiential learning projects. Categorizing your team will make identifying potential funders much more streamlined.
Stephenson emphasized that in order to gain funding, projects need to put in the work beforehand, whether that is developing the program to be more aligned with the funder’s goals or creating a unified team to approach the future grant writing process. Employers now more than ever want students who are interdisciplinary and multi-faceted, able to work with many different people on large-scale projects. Experiential learning, especially with COVID-19 online programs- allows students the opportunities to connect students in different disciplines or parts of the world in order for them to gain the skills necessary to run programs that secure future funding. In terms of current projects, Stephenson highlighted an open and shared collaborative approach to projects, with the suggestion of building relationships and common ground with a team before rushing to write grant applications. These steps will make your team or your students more well-rounded and better prepared for the funding process.
Action Steps for Securing Funding
Jaynie Mitchell was our second panelist, and she provided key insights into the grant writing process and tips for how to secure funding resources for experiential learning programs. Here are the key action steps:
Grant applications need to tell a story of a student-centered experience. Students should follow the basic flow of explaining the current situation, explaining their solution to the problem, and describing the larger benefits to the broader community or the field itself
Fundable ideas must be unique, interesting, and action-oriented. Grant reviewers are looking for projects that have a definite need, are feasible, and can move the field forward while still being relevant and understandable to non-experts.
To determine the right funders for your project, your team needs to be able to clearly communicate what you have to offer, your population of interest, and your timeline and be able to ask interested funders what type of support they are willing to provide in return.
Once you have your fundable idea, application story, and know the type of funder you are looking for, it's time to research specific groups to apply for grants from. To find funding, talk to others in the same field, look at funders who supported recent literature, check professional organizations, and seek internal funding from your institutions.
When you find that perfect funder, contact their program officer to set up a call and ask if your project fits their interests to start the conversation and allow them to get to know your team beyond the application!
Our next webinar in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series will take place on March 12th and center conversations on assessing professional development and creating experiences that allow students to forget about the grades. Registration links can be found at https://experience.byu.edu/experiential-learning-summit-2020