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Empowering Students and Non-Profits Through Grant Writing at ISU

November 8, 2023

Students in a grant writing class at ISU help gather and distribute duffle bags full of hygiene items and other essentials for local high school students.

Kellee Kirkpatrick, an associate professor in Political Science has been making a significant impact on students and the community through her innovative grant writing class.

Kirkpatrick's connection with ISU spans ten years. Originally hailing from Kansas, Kirkpatrick found her home at ISU and has since been teaching American politics and public policy, contributing to the academic growth of countless students.

The grant writing class (POLS 4457/5557) is a unique course is designed to equip students with the essential skills needed to excel in grant writing—an area where many individuals lack prior experience.

Students and staff from various departments across ISU have benefitted from the course. Kirkpatrick's teaching approach is not only theoretical but hands-on, allowing students to work with real clients from the community.

Vannesa Truchot, a student in the Masters of Public Administration program at ISU, says that Dr. Kirkpatrick’s dedication as a teacher and the real-life application during the course, helped her get the job she’s currently in, as the Tribal Justice Grant Coordinator for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. 

Each student in the course writes a full grant proposal, with clients typically having access to 30-40 potential grant opportunities. This relationship benefits both students, who gain invaluable real-world experience, and the clients, who receive professionally crafted grant proposals.

“We’ve worked with many amazing clients in the community,” Kirkpatrick says. “Grant writing is a partnership. We can change lives together.”

Students who complete the course gain a valuable skill set that opens doors to careers in nonprofits, government organizations, or academic research. Grant writing, often overlooked in traditional curricula, is a valuable skill set in today's job market.

“Careers can go in any direction,” Kirkpatrick says. “Employers love students with a broad liberal arts education and skills in thinking, writing, data analysis, and grant writing.” 

Kirkpatrick says students can apply the grant writing course for work with nonprofits, city or government organizations, organizations who are giving grants or receiving grants, anyone working in philanthropy, and someone looking to fund their own interest in research.

Derek Velasquez, another grant writing student, not only excelled in grant writing but also made significant contributions to a local non-profit organization, 208-CARE. His exemplary work led to his appointment to the organization's executive board.

Kirkpatrick says that “they were so impressed with Derek’s work, they wanted him to be a part of the organization long term.”

As a student in the course, Derek Velasquez worked with the 208-CARE Project, a local nonprofit that collects and distributes duffle bags stocked with essentials to area high school students. 

“It ended up being one of those assignments you fall completely into,” Velasquez says, “one of those projects that throws you off axis just enough to permanently shift who you were going to be into who you actually become.”

Kirkpatrick's vision for the future includes continuing the hybrid format of the class, which is being offered this spring. For more information please contact Kellee Kirkpatrick at  (208) 282-2550 | kelleekirkpatrick@isu.edu.


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