Fairfield University students help Homes for the Brave win grant

Fairfield University students help Homes for the Brave win grant

Image: Writing A proposal that Fairfield University students helped to write has won the non-profit agency, Homes for the Brave, a grant from Bridgeport's Advancing Capacity Together (A.C.T.) Program. The student project was part of a course called Grant and Proposal Writing taught by adjunct English professor Thomas Sobocinski.

The grant, which is awarded to faith- and community-based organizations that work with the homeless in the Bridgeport area, totals $16,750. It will enable Bridgeport's Applied Behavioral Rehabilitation Institution, Inc.'s (ABRI) Homes for the Brave program, which assists homeless former service members in Connecticut, to implement a marketing and re-branding plan. The grant will also help the agency purchase a laptop, projector, and accessories to give presentations.

As part of the Grant and Proposal Writing class's service-learning component, students were required to assist several nonprofit agencies in researching and writing proposals. Sobocinski, who has been teaching the course for four semesters, prepared the students by first explaining the fundamentals of grant writing in class, then assigning work to sharpen their writing skills, and then, familiarizing them with grants that were successful in the past. At the nonprofit agencies, the students were teamed up with a grant writer or development officer to research grants and write proposals to foundations.

Three students, John Primavera, Sarah Turner, and Katy Zadrovicz, opted to volunteer at Homes for the Brave. The students drafted select parts of the winning proposal in Nov. 2009. Out of the 14 agencies that applied, Homes for the Brave was awarded the fourth highest grant.

Amanda LeClair, Development Director at Homes for the Brave, worked closely with the students on the grant. "The most rewarding aspect of working with the students on proposals is providing them with a chance to put their skills and education into practice prior to graduation." She said the students would also benefit from learning the skills required to win a grant beyond being a good writer, such as truly understanding the mission and goals of the non-profit agency.

LeClair added that one of the greatest benefits of the students' contributions was the fresh insight they offered. "They ask questions about the agency and programs that, after two years working here, I forget to ask. They help me better understand the perspective of the funding agencies."

Past students in Sobocinski's course have won grants every semester for either Homes for the Brave or other non-profit organizations. To date, $49,750 in grants have been awarded to Homes for the Brave, Operation Hope, and Family ReEntry for proposals on which students worked.

Sobocinski is the grant writer for The Workplace, Inc., Southwestern Connecticut's Regional Workforce Investment Board. He is graduate of Fairfield University, where earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's in communications.

By Traci Dantoni, Class of 2010

Posted On: 02-22-2010 10:02 AM

Volume: 42 Number: 204