Summer grant writing course leads to funding for local nonprofit, valuable career lessons for PhD student

PhD student, Andrea Ens (left) poses with Lafayette Urban Ministry Executive Director, Wes Tillet (right) PhD student, Andrea Ens (left) poses with Lafayette Urban Ministry Executive Director, Wes Tillet (right)

This past summer, the Graduate School’s Grant Writing for Diverse Careers class paired PhD humanities students with local Lafayette nonprofit organizations to help students develop their transferable skills and give back to the Greater Lafayette community.

Eight humanities PhD students prepared project proposals with guidance from the course instructor, Dr. Lisa Nielsen, and their community partner contacts. While the course, as a whole, generated positive outcomes, one history PhD student, Andrea Ens, wrote two winning grant proposals, which netted $13,515 for Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM). Wes Tillet, LUM’s Executive Director, led the project planning while coaching Andrea on the operations of the nonprofit organization.

Together, Andrea and Wes collaborated on the proposal. Andrea applied what she learned in class lectures to draft proposals with input and resources from LUM. Their work has literally paid off through LUM’s receipt of the Franciscan Health’s Social Impact Partnership Grant and the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette NOW Grant. The funding will provide support for LUM’s Good Samaritan Fund to help individuals needing financial assistance for housing needs as well as to update LUM’s Ray Ewry Center’s fire alarm system. Protecting the Center’s occupants from fire risk is a major priority.


PhD student, Andrea Ens (left) poses with Lafayette Urban Ministry Executive Director, Wes Tillet (right)

The Grant Writing for Diverse Career class fostered connections between PhD students and the greater Lafayette community. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to use the research and writing skills I’ve developed in my PhD program on a project that helps the community in a tangible, material way”, says Andrea. Wes says that Andrea’s grant writing was a major contribution to LUM’s ongoing new projects.

The outcome of the proposals provided more than much-needed funding for LUM, it was also a valuable experience for Andrea’s career exploration. “The Grant Writing course helped me gain a better understanding of the sort of diverse career opportunities available after graduation. This first-hand grant writing experience taught me a lot about the practical aspects of careers in the non-profit sector”, says Andrea.

Her grant writing skills will continue beyond the course. She says, “I'll be working with LUM on a volunteer grant writing internship this year. I’m looking forward to continuing working with Wes at LUM and gaining more grant writing experience through this opportunity.”

The Grant Writing for Diverse Careers class will be offered again in summer 2023 to continue involving humanities PhD students in community projects. “I sense this program is a real win-win-win-win - for the non-profit, for the people in the community served by the non-profit, for the Purdue student, for Purdue as a whole”, says Wes.

Source: Dr. Lisa Nielsen

Related Article: New Course Pairs Graduate Students with Local Nonprofits to Prepare for Diverse Career Pathways and Give Back to the Community


September 14, 2022

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