College Course Making Argument For Developing Effective Grant Writing Skills

Writing is poised for a rebound. When employers must choose among candidates with similar attributes, a study shows the applicant with the strongest written communications skills is likely to be given strongest consideration for the position.

But few college students appear to be on the right track toward discovering the lost art of writing. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 41 percent of the employers that took part in an annual survey believed recent college graduates to be less than proficient in oral and written communications. In other words, in the eyes of these employers, six out of 10 college graduates do not possess strong communication skills.

No wonder grant writers are so high in demand. While a bachelor’s degree – typically in English, journalism, communications, or marketing – is required of most grant writing positions — previous experience will go a long way toward helping job seekers get a foot in the door of an employer who needs help with proposals.

By enrolling in a grant writing class, students at Hartwick College are putting their best foot forward, and local nonprofit organizations are benefiting from the unique skills they are acquiring. The course, “Introduction to Grant Writing,” prepares students to develop and submit a proposal on behalf of a local nonprofit in Oneonta, N.Y. Students are versed in writing, designing and revising a proposal and identifying grants and funding sources.

In the latest offering, students were matched with nonprofits and wrote grants for Girls on the Run, the EDD Memorial Fund, Valleyview Elementary School, the Oneonta Fire Department, and Hartwick College’s Yager Museum of Art & Culture.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said many students who study grant writing go on to find writing for a purpose to be a rewarding career. But, as in most professions, a good grant writer must keep up with the latest advances in technology and industry trends. Grant Writing Institute (, a service of GrantWatch, is now preparing a practical online curriculum geared to those who are either new to grant writing or are looking to hone their skills and gain new insights into crafting winning proposals.

Carolyn Cooper, who teaches the course at Hartwick College, said developing grants requires a specific style of writing. Each student who applies for the introductory course is pre-screened and required to submit a writing sample. But, the hands-on experience isn’t limited to students. Each semester, the class welcomes a member of the community to participate. And students are not sole proprietors of the grant writing accomplishments, either.

Thanks to the communication efforts of Assistant Chief Jim Maloney, a course participant last year, the Oneonta Fire Department was awarded a $5,785 grant to purchase particulate-filtering hoods for firefighters. This year, Joanna Cacciola, a development assistant at Hartwick College, secured a $5,000 grant for the Community Arts Network of Oneonta, for which she doubles as board secretary.

Hikind said grant writing is a skilled craft that involves time, accurate management plans and well-packaged reporting mechanisms. The process and the ability to communicate a vision should not be underestimated.

But, many nonprofits as well as small businesses and government agencies cannot afford to invest in hiring or training a grant writer. Those individuals or organizations without the required human resources turn to to request a grant writer. Proposal writers at  bid on the requests of grant-seeking organizations who wish to have their ideas translated into compelling statements that demonstrate the effectiveness of their products or services to funding sources.

Grant writers from all backgrounds who have the talent to craft a compelling proposal for funds are encouraged to sign-up on, a service of Joining GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, fill out the application and begin to bid on grant writing jobs.


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