By Laura Lee Perkins-
Philanthropy is on the rise. Grants are plentiful, offering funding for specific purposes: publishing, research, workshops, writing, travel, individual/community projects, seminars and more. Grants often require an extensive application process.
Tips for applying for grants:
When applying, you will need a finely-honed mission and letters of recommendation from respected peers. When awarded a grant, you will be required to submit a final report of how you spent the funds and sometimes a sample donation of your work will be requested. Grants are not simply free money. They involve many hours of work, but I have found that it is time well-spent.
Grants have themes. Grant providers offer grants for specific purposes. Make sure that your project is a good match with the grantor’s parameters before you begin the application process.
Some grants offer funding within specific geographic boundaries. Is your geographical location a match?
Grants have a mission. Clearly articulate how you will use the grant money. Include a detailed budget. And explain how this project matches the grant’s mission. Demonstrate that your requests match the funding guidelines. Explain how this grant will serve your professional career, help others (now and in the future) and expand the grantor’s mission. Grants are about you, the grant funder and the impact the project will have on others. If you can communicate these three components, you will be a strong candidate!
Some ways grant funds have made a difference:
I have received grants to attend writers’ conferences because improved writing skills helped at work.
When I was teaching, I applied for a little-known $4,000 governor’s grant for teaching excellence and completed graduate level writing courses using that money.
The local state educators’ association funded two $10,000 grants to produce a book with a companion CD about Native American music.
A Quaker Lyman Fund funded $2,000 twice for a book and CD about spiritual connections.
A local bank offered a grant for a writing project for children.
The Alex Tanous Foundation funded two summer projects to bring women to my home for classes for 10 weeks.
The Puffin Foundation offers grants to save something endangered. My grant application about authentic Native American music received two grants totaling $3,000 for two books.
Making the most of a residency
Artist-in-Residencies (AIR) have also been a welcome gift during the past 10 years. When I accepted AIR positions at Sleeping Bear Dunes (MI), Acadia (ME), Crater Lake (OR) and Great North Cascades (WA) U.S. National Parks, it became obvious that those without an artistic bent were a bit confused about what I would be doing. “Writing and offering one public presentation about my work,” was my response. “Is that all?” some questioned. Yes, that was all. What a gift of time, space and inspiration!
You need to have a vision, clear the calendar, craft an AIR project, gather references and complete your application. Each park offered me a unique experience: Sleeping Bear Dunes reflects Native American legends of the Great Lakes, Acadia’s rockbound coast/islands strengthen the soul, Great North Cascades offers majestic mountains, wild rivers, mammoth trees, and Crater Lake’s mystical quality is magnetic! My fifth AIR on Martha’s Vineyard at Turkeyland Cove for 17 days of solitude in a magnificent island house resulted in several publications.
I am a writer and a musician. Writers describe their impressions in word paintings. Musicians bring forth inspiration through sound. That is what I do every day during an artist-in-residency. AIR programs offer time for the mind to wander, filling my soul with joy. Profound experiences of beauty and serenity are imprinted upon my soul and will continue to enrich my work for years.
Laura Lee Perkins, MS is a writer, educator and musician. Laura has been awarded five artist-in-residencies and eleven grants. She was 3rd Place Winner in 80th International Writers’ Digest Awards (Inspirational category) and she has released three books in the past 15 months: Lighting Your Spiritual Passion, Native American Flute Tutor and Native American Songs for Flute. The Hope and Miracles CHICKEN SOUP for the SOUL (Feb 2015) includes Laura’s essay: THE WHITE OWL. Laura lives near a Maine lighthouse and winters in Arizona.