New course pairs graduate students with local nonprofits to prepare for diverse career pathways and give back to the community

Graduate Student, Roseline Adewuyi (right) with her Community Partner, Suzanne Clementz (left) from Caring Ministry Graduate Student, Roseline Adewuyi (right) with her Community Partner, Suzanne Clementz (left) from Caring Ministry

The academic job market is changing. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of doctoral graduates continues to increase, while fewer faculty positions are available. To adjust to this changing market, graduate students face an increasing need to prepare for career pathways beyond the professoriate. To address this need, Purdue’s Graduate School is providing Doctoral humanities students with a new service-oriented learning opportunity aimed at helping these students develop one of the most transferable skills in the job industry – grant writing.

Whether students pursue academia, business, government, or nonprofit positions after graduation, grant writing is a key proficiency for many job sectors. Countless organizations seek grants to fund innovative new projects, grow their business, or address the needs of a community, meaning qualified grant writers are often in high demand.

Dr. Lisa Nielsen, Grant Writer and Postdoc Director at Purdue’s Graduate School, is teaching the Grant Writing for Diverse Careers class to help students prepare for diverse career pathways and give back to the Greater Lafayette community. This class, which was made possible through the Council of Graduate School’s Humanities Coalition Grant, pairs doctoral students from English, History, and the School of Languages and Cultures with local nonprofit organizations to develop a grant proposal to help fund the organizations' projects.

Students meet online each week to review lecture videos and participate in discussion boards, then students collaborate with their nonprofit organization to develop a detailed and persuasive proposal. This process involves learning about the nonprofit organizations' structure, projects, and resources to write a compelling project plan that appeals to Grantmakers.

Graduate Student, Vanessa Sheu (right), and Community Partner, Stacey Quick (left), from Franciscan Lafayette and Crawfordsville meet via Zoom to discuss grant writing project.

This course allows students to gain hands-on experience with nonprofit careers, build potential career connections, and apply their critical thinking and academic writing skills to real business outcomes. Regardless of the students' career interests, the class will provide them with a transformative professional development experience.

Purdue students are not the only ones to benefit from this course. Nonprofit community partners will also benefit from the students’ knowledge of grant writing best practices and resources and will ultimately receive a completed grant proposal. This includes organizations such as Food Finders, Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, Lafayette Urban Ministry, Group Homes for Children, Caring Ministry, Lafayette Transitional Housing, YWCA of Greater Lafayette, and Franciscan Health.

Each student in the Grant Writing for Diverse Careers course will adapt the course content to their organization’s written proposal, which will be submitted for funding opportunities to help the local nonprofits receive financial support for program growth or new initiatives. In turn, the nonprofit organizations will nurture humanities graduate students for future resource management and leadership professions. This cooperative relationship is yet another example of Purdue graduate students developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges, so we can build a better world together.

Source: Dr. Lisa Nielsen

June 07, 2022

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