Writing for Non-Profits: Scripps Class Provides Experiences That Make Resumes Stand Out

By Ashli Duncan ’11Op-Ed Editor

It’s a sad fact that money drives the modern world. Little can be done without financial backing. And that financial backing is not always readily available. But the greater the task, the greater the need for the money to back it. In a time of economic uncertainty, it is important to be able to ask for money in a clear and persuasive voice. And that’s where grants come in: convincing strangers to donate their money to a worthy cause.

Asking for money on behalf of a non-profit organization is particularly difficult. Luckily, Scripps offers the class “Writing for Non-Profit Institutions.” Taught by Professor Roseann Simeroth, the class provides students with the valuable interpersonal and negotiating skills necessary to deal with these delicate interactions.

Writing for Non-Profit Institutions is an advanced writing course which focuses on how to write grants, proposals, fellowships applications and other documents for non-profits. Each student spends the semester working on a grant proposal. The proposals are reviewed by their classmates at the end of the semester.

Professor Simeroth uses a step by step approach to teach students how to write grants.

“It’s a workshop based class,” said current student Vritti Goel (‘12). “For example, one of our major projects is to write a grant for a non-profit. Each student chooses an organization to approach and see if its members are interested in working with us. We work very closely with our non-profits. In the past, some students have written successful grants that actually helped the non-profit get money.”

Organizations students are working with this semester include the dA center, KIPP, the HMC Science Bus and Crossroads. Funding makes the difference between a successful non-profit program and an unsuccessful one. “Grant writing is more than just presenting information. It’s about telling a story of the non profit,” said current student Suzanne Calkins (’11). “Often the  [money-lending] foundations get hundreds, maybe thousand of grants and proposals. You need to write something that will catch their attention, [something that] has heart to it. You want to show you’re writing about something you’re passionate about and have the facts to back it up.”

The class isn’t just about writing grants, though. Students also learn about the structure of non-profits. Knowing the structures of non- profit organizations is useful for anyone interested in working in the non-profit sector, particularly if she is interested in starting her own non-profit.

“This class has been one of the most practical classes that I’ve taken at Scripps. I can see how the skills I learn in this class apply directly to life outside of college,” said Calkins.

Learning to write grants is a skill that makes any resume stand out. Learning how to write passionately and clearly is a valuable skill that any potential employer—in the non-profit field or not—will find impressive. "The skills I learn in this class apply directly to life outside of college." - Suzanne Calkins ’11