In late 2004, Washburn University needed some help with grants as part of a vision plan for the university.
That help came in the form of Kristi Wilson as Washburn hired her for a new position, grants facilitator. Since that time she has been helping faculty, staff and students get outside funding for their academic needs ever since. On average, about 25 grants are applied for each year.
This fiscal year, Wilson has helped 52 percent of grant applicants at Washburn, bringing in $1,499,299. Those grants range between $5,000 and $500,000.
But that money doesn’t come easily. Many applicants have applied for outside funding numerous times before being approved. Yet Wilson enjoys a bit of an advantage in the complicated process thanks to her background. Before coming to Washburn, Wilson looked at grants from the other side of the application, she was the one approving them. Now that she spends her time writing grants, Wilson understands what it takes to have a successful application.
“I can help them with editing and it’s not necessarily just grammatical things,” said Wilson. ‘I’m pretty good at being able to read something and say “this part is a little bit confusing.'”
Before applications are submitted, the process also includes getting signatures by two university officials: President Jerry Farley and Wanda Hill, vice president and treasurer of Academic Administration. As well, there is criterion as to why the grant is being applied for. Often, the grants are used for research, creative projects and for possible projects that incorporate with a Washburn Transformational Experience. This is part of why Wilson advocates that students apply for outside grants as well as faculty.
As previously mentioned, often the grants aren’t awarded the first time that an applicant applies. Wilson said one of the keys is to keep applying and trying to collaborate with other faculty or staff. Another key is to listen to the critiques given by those who evaluate grants.
“Every time the approvers came back and said they need something, the applicants listened,” said Wilson. “They tweaked everything, and the next time around they got it.”
Something Wilson likes to relay to students is the availability for grants for their use as well. Often, she sees students applying for financial help with projects for transformational experience projects. Wilson said a student could use the funding to complete their project and working with grants looks good on a resume after college.
Wilson hopes to see more students, faculty and staff applying for grants. Part of her goal to drive the University’s award rate higher during her time at Washburn.
“If there’s a project, especially research that a student wants to work on, if they collaborate with a faculty member, we can definitely help them,” said Wilson.