I started working with ECM at the beginning of November, and these past two months have been full of activity and new experiences. The primary focus of my position is grant writing, and before coming to ECM, I had only ever written one other grant (during my Nicaragua internship in the summer of 2013). So I feel like I'm learning a lot of this as I go, in terms of figuring out what goes into writing a grant proposal, how to approach foundations, etc. I have to admit there are times when I feel insecure and unqualified. But then, there are times when I feel like I am growing and learning and finding a groove.
On the other hand, I feel like this position uses a lot of my skills, and that my past experiences have prepared me for it. I like writing and feel that I'm pretty good at it, so this is just learning to write in a new way. My internship in Nicaragua introduced me to grassroots community development work and the importance of actively maintaining a community-driven perspective. I love being able to speak Spanish with my coworkers and community members, and continue refining my conversation skills and learning new words.
Throughout this learning process, I’m discovering some of the interesting aspects of being a grant writer. First, I get to have kind of an overhead view of the organization and its programs. I get to see what everyone is doing, hear everyone’s vision for where they’re going, and help them dream and scheme about how to get there. And I love that.
The other side of that coin, though, is that my particular tasks aren’t very interesting to tell about. I mostly sit at a computer all day, writing and editing proposals, researching foundations and grant opportunities, updating my spreadsheets of information, meeting with program staff to learn their vision and priorities, etc. I like writing, and I like using language in different ways to communicate what we're doing. But the program staff – Lidia, the Clinic Director, or Morgan, the Urban Farm Manager, or John, the Executive Director – are the ones with their hands directly in ECM’s projects.
The other odd aspect of this job is the constant waiting that it seems like it will entail. We submitted a short proposal to a family foundation last week, and that felt like an accomplishment. I’d been writing and revising the draft, and meeting with Lidia and John, for about a month, so it was gratifying to check it off my list. But we won’t hear from them until February, so it will weeks before we know if they will approve it or not. And based on the research I’ve done, a two month response time seems relatively quick.
I love being here at ECM and getting to be a part of their work. Since my job isn’t too noteworthy on a day-to-day basis, in the coming weeks I’d like to tell you all a bit about ECM’s different programs.
I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season (for those who celebrate, whatever you celebrate), and thanks for reading!