March 10, 2017
“The hardest part about shifting career paths is simply finding that first springboard opportunity. In 2009, I was a former English major with a journalism-heavy background, looking to shift gears into the nonprofit sector. AmeriCorps VISTA turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me. At the time, I wasn’t qualified for a full-time salaried position; and I didn’t want to take an internship or part-time gig. Through VISTA, I accepted a grant writing position at Sarah’s Circle, a women’s daytime shelter. Like most VISTA experiences, I took on a lot of responsibility and learned a lot of foundational skills in the process. Looking back, I was a bit over my head. But it was a heck of an education; and it ultimately sprung my grant writing career, which is now nine years and counting.”
“After moving to DC, I took a position as an AmeriCorps member at Manna, a local nonprofit that has been building affordable housing in the community since the 1980s. During my year as an AmeriCorps, I not only had the opportunity to see the inside-workings of an effective community development organization, but also gained valuable grant writing experience that prepared me to succeed in my role as Senior Grant Writer at Elevate.”
“When I was an AmeriCorps volunteer – first as a City Year corps member, then as a member of the Washington AIDS Partnership – I quickly had to learn that effecting change would not be simple. In many cases, it would not even be probable. At least, not in the immediate sense I had been hoping for when I first signed up for my years of community service. AmeriCorps helped me rethink metrics of success. Did I close the achievement gap for middle school students in Washington, D.C.? No, not likely. But I did provide hundreds of hours of literacy tutoring for students across the academic spectrum. Is the rate of new HIV infections still stubbornly high in our city? Certainly. But, I did facilitate many workshops and testing sessions aimed at increasing young people’s awareness of how to prevent transmission.
At Elevate, we like to say that progress is possible. It’s an important thing for folks working toward justice to remember. We know that not every single grant we submit is going to be funded, nor are our clients going to become as efficient or effective as they would like overnight. Yet, we still celebrate successes when they occur, no matter how small, and continue to keep faith that the hard work we do on a daily basis will pay off.”