A Brief Reflection on Grants and Grant Writing

As the semester’s progressed and I learned more and more about the conclusion of this class, I’ve grown progressively more and more intrigued, yet also more and more intimidated by the prospect of writing grants. This is in part due to people in my life telling me that I should at least giving going into grant writing a chance. In part because I’ve been recommended grant-writing as a career choice, it’s furthered both my curiosity and anxiety: on one hand, this final project could be a means to significantly further one’s career, but it’s also all the more daunting in all its formalism. I think I’m not alone when I say that this is my first time consciously doing anything even related to grant writing, outside of, for instance, more general, casual project proposals.

Tips on Applying for a Preservation & Access Award on by the Division of Preservation and Access Staff on National Endowment for the Humanities website was both informative and soothing. Its “Get a Little Help From Your Friends” section really emphasizes the fact that even if one seeks funding for a solo project, one should not be afraid to reach out and work with the connections one has. Additionally, as I’ve begun to set up my own final project, the article as a whole has served as a quick and easy general reference. That is, the article succinctly lays out key information in a way that lets it be used as a sort of a (rather general) checklist for what one should aim to include in one’s grant, as well as a guideline for making sure one is generally on track.

While Tips on Applying for a Preservation & Access Award, at least for me, functions best when I have it in a browser window in the background while I work on my proposal, Sheila Brennan’s Planning Your Next DHAG series is much more heavy-duty because of its multi-part nature, but in turn, it’s much more detailed and informative. I have to admit that I’ve read through the whole of it a few times out of anxious compulsion. I like to believe this has helped me in some manner.

The part of Brennan’s article I keep open in the tab next to the one I have Tips on Applying for a Preservation & Access Award in is her list of “six evaluation criteria,” found in Idea, Audience, Innovation, Context. When I’m reading back through what I already have written, I’ve found it very helpful to try to connect each paragraph I’ve written back to one of Brennan’s criteria. When I find a paragraph that I can’t connect back, I generally attempt to figure out if that’s for a reason or not, and whether the paragraph can stand on its own, or if it’s poorly-conceived, too filler-ridden or off-topic.