By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
On the edge of Tyler Cosgrove’s desk a thick handbook rests, a jargon- filled souvenir from his recent trip to Boston for a grant-writing convention on behalf of the Students’ Association.
Cosgrove, SA executive treasurer, plans to write two of his own and tailor them to suit the needs of student organizations and the SA finance committee before the changing of the guard this spring. This way, said Cosgrove, senior finance major from Amarillo, SA won’t have to fund another conference any time soon-they can refer to the handbooks instead.
Kevan Kirksey, chief financial officer, and Ryan Stephen, chief advancement officer, also attended the convention.
The SA budget includes two conferences per semester; the grantwriting conference was allotted about $3,600, Cosgrove said and any extra expenses will come from the discretionary fund.
At the convention last week, attendees learned how to research foundations, evaluate usefulness and network with perspective grantors.
They briefly discussed establishing a non-profit and were expected to complete “homework,” applying for a mock grant with a non-profit of their choice. Cosgrove said he used the Noah Project.
Attendees heard from both parties – experienced grant writers and grantors attended the conference and offered insight.
Cosgrove said SA has applied for a few grants and has not received any yet; however, he said he felt the process became clearer after attending the conference.
Sometimes, SA approaches the same foundations as the university, which makes finding grants difficult, Cosgrove said.
“You go and you find out that ACU is applying to the same foundation for $1.5 million, and we back off really quick – both of us will have the ACU stationary,” Cosgrove said.
This semester, SA is seeking grants for Treadaway Kids, Wildcat Kids and an initiative to open the south doors of the Brown Library.
“There are a ton of foundations that are required to give money, with lots to give,” said Kirksey, sophomore financial management major from Tyler.
He said SA cannot fund every project on campus, but it can apply for grants for established programs like Wildcat Kids and Treadaway Kids that have very limited resources.
Ryan Stephen, sophomore financial management major from Spring, said SA applied for a grant from the Community Foundation of Abilene to fund opening the library doors and making them handicap-accessible.
The process has stagnated because SA still is waiting to hear from the foundation and the changes to the library’s infrastructure have made some unhappy.
“We ran into some major brick walls,” Stephen said.
Stephen’s position as chief advancement officer is a trial position, and he said one responsibility is to work with organizations to find grants.
“My biggest thing with the chief advancement officer position, I’ve been saying, is to fund a dream,” Stephen said. “And that’s just so hard to do if you don’t know that dream is there.”
Stephen called the responsibility two-fold, and said SA needs to be informed and organizations need to be willing to put in the extra work.
Organizations also need to consider the future and remember the slow nature of grants, Stephen said.
“These student groups are going to outlast any person’s stay here at ACU. I can be an officer in the Students’ Association, but when I leave, the Students’ Association is still going to be here,” Stephen said. “While I’m here, I’m supposed to do everything that I can to make sure SA is better when I leave. And I feel like that’s something we really need to instill in our student groups.”