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Improving Communities, One Grant at a Time
Kansas Ag Connection - 12/05/2018

Nancy Daniels likes seeing ideas bubble up when people come together to talk about improving their communities. And she's seen a lot of ideas bubble up lately.

Daniels conducts workshops across Kansas to help individuals and community groups sharpen their grant-writing proposal skills. Community improvements often happen because of grants. Think new playground equipment at a local park, community health coalition plans or new equipment for firefighters.

"Just getting people together to talk, there's something magical that happens," said Daniels, a K-State Research and Extension community vitality specialist. "There's money available."

In the past two years, she has partnered with local extension offices and community groups -- such as hospitals and public libraries -- to help more than 550 Kansans overcome initial fears about the process and start writing.

Participants learn about:

- Data sources to document community needs.

- Grant funding sources.

- Ways to identify problems, outcomes and activities.

- How to evaluate outcomes and develop a budget.

"I tell people they should not go looking for money; they should be looking for outcomes," Daniels said, noting that it's important to express what's needed, why it's needed and how it will help others. She has conducted workshops in 23 communities, some as small as Nortonville and others as large as Topeka. Often attendees drive as much as 1-1/2 hours to participate.

"The workshop gave me more confidence in moving forward to write grants, and more confidence that the grants we pursue will be funded," said Mike McLaughlin, communications and public information supervisor for Shawnee County Parks and Recreation. He said he found particularly helpful the number of resources to which individuals and organizations can look for funding.

More workshops are planned for 2019. Information is available online or by contacting Daniels at 785-410-6352 or nkdaniels@ksu.edu.

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