Belinda White, a graduate student in the professional and technical writing program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, experienced first-hand the benefits of engaging with the community while being inside the classroom.
During the spring 2017 semester, White took Dr. Barbara L’eplattenier’s grant writing course and composed a grant proposal for A Veteran’s Best Friend in Cabot, Arkansas. White recently got word that her proposal was accepted, and the non-profit organization received $1,500 in funding from the Petco Foundation.
According to White, A Veteran’s Best Friend provides veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with dogs trained to assist them in their daily activities. Many of the dogs come from local animal shelters, and others from the Paws in Prison program.
“I wrote the proposal last spring, so I’d kind of think about it every once in a while going, ‘Well, I guess maybe that didn’t work out,’ because I never heard anything else about it,” White explained, “and then all of a sudden I did, and it was like, ‘wow.’”
For an assignment in L’eplattenier’s grant writing course, White was tasked with locating a non-profit organization that would assist in providing the details necessary for drafting a thorough grant proposal.
After surveying her options, White was sold on working with A Veteran’s Best Friend.
“I love dogs,” she said, “and mental health doesn’t seem to get enough attention, so when I was looking around for what I could do, I found that organization and thought working with it would be worthwhile.”
After deciding on the organization, White worked with the Veteran’s Best Friend team to identify areas where financial assistance was most needed. Because the foundation was fairly new and had only been in existence for a couple of years, there were more than a few areas that were worthy of aid and improvement.
Ultimately, the foundation decided on using the potential funds to pursue Assistance Dog International (ADI) certification, a certificate that sets the standard for the assistance dog industry, ensuring that dogs are treated humanely, clients are treated with respect and dignity, and training is delivered in a professional way at all times.
“In order to be ADI certified, the foundation needs to have handicapped ramps and the doors need to be widened for wheelchair accessibility, so they were looking forward to doing some of these things to be able to get that certification,” White said.
Now that White has seen her in-class assignment take root in the real world, she encourages other students to seek the same experience.
“I can’t say enough about this grant writing class,” White exclaimed. “It’s a great course for anybody, regardless of what their major is. You never know how grant writing could be beneficial for you, whether it’s in your work or a charity that you’re passionate about. The process of understanding and having a grant proposal funded is an eye opening experience.”
White said that this success has motivated her to want to write more grant proposals in the future.
White is expected to graduate from UA Little Rock with her master’s degree in summer 2019.