CLIENT: Starry Night Artist Retreat
PROJECT: Guest Blog: “Gail on Grants” (http://starrynightonline.com/blog/resources/grant-writing-cheat-sheet/ )
Intimidated to apply for a grant? Writing stress you out? Worried you don’t have what it takes to get funded? The good news is that most artists can learn the skills necessary to put together a competitive grant application. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered from my many years of both writing my own applications and helping clients with theirs:
- Read, read, read
First, borrow some successful grant applications from friends to read over. You’ll get familiar with different styles and what works. Then, make sure you read all about the funder you’re considering, especially the application form. Some artists have the bad habit of skimming grant application forms because they are often long. But it pays to read carefully. Read especially for the funder’s criteria and deadlines. I suggest printing out a few copies and throwing them into a three-ring binder where you can also insert some pocket folders for supporting materials later.
- Call first
Phone the funder if a number is provided and if the application indicates calling is appropriate. Eligibility is the main issue at this phase; make sure you’ve read those criteria before phoning so you’re not making extra work for anybody.
- Simple and concise
Committees awarding funding want to know, in as few words as possible, who you are and what your project is about. Using fancy language or jargon gets in the way. Aim to be clear and provide specific examples and descriptions. After finishing, let your completed application sit for a few days and then re-read for edits.
- Three sets of eyes
When you are finished with your revisions, have two colleagues or friends read both the application form and your answers. It’s better if one of these people is not working in the same discipline as you. Integrate their feedback as you judge appropriate.
- Follow instructions…to the letter
If a funder wants you to format with six-inch margins, use Lucida Bright font, and print out 17 copies for committee members, do it. Send your package in well in advance of the due date. Unless otherwise indicated, send final drafts electronically as PDF files.
- Can I get a witness?
Make it a habit to always get testimonials or letters of recommendation after completing a project. If you need specific letters for a grant, give the person you’re asking a month to complete the task, with a deadline attached; make the deadline a week before you actually need it in case the person is late.
Want help with your application? Email me and mention you’re part of the Starry Night community and you’ll get a special rate. firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Marlene Schwartz
CLIENT: Jogalong Stroller
PROJECT: Blog article #2 “Get Moving, Postpartum”
At five months old, my “little” baby boy, Alexi, weighed almost 25 pounds. I was a runner for years before getting pregnant and liked to think of myself as physically fit. But let’s just say having to regularly hoist up a gigantic infant who weighed more than my slightly obese tomcat was not a possibility I had done any planning for. Some new moms are chomping at the bit to get back to their regular fitness routines; I had no choice but to get stronger and get stronger fast, to take basic care of my enormous child.
So I started reading up on postpartum exercise. Each woman’s road to recovery following a birth is unique. But there is general agreement in the medical community that regular movement and training is beneficial and healthy after baby’s arrival. The Mayo Clinic provides this list (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/exercise-after-pregnancy/art-20044596). Even a gentle exercise program can:
• Faciliate weight loss
• Improve cardio fitness
• Restore muscle strength and tone
• Condition abdominal muscles
• Boost energy level
• Improve mood
• Relieve stress
• Prevent postpartum depression
So, we know it’s healthy. But how much can we do and when? Journalist Karen Laing, in her article in Huffington Post UK, takes readers through the different postpartum physical stages and provides some fitness tips based on that information (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/karen-laing/post-baby-body_b_8739254.html). In the past, women were told to wait at least six weeks after delivery to begin exercising. Now, experts advise women who delivered vaginally with no complications to start as soon as they feel ready. Women who had complications in their deliveries or C-sections naturally need to wait and start very slowly and consult with their doctors or coaches about limitations and pacing. Breast-feeding moms are advised to nurse baby before exercising to prevent the pain that can come with engorged breasts. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concur that postpartum exercise is beneficial (http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Physical-Activity-and-Exercise-During-Pregnancy-and-the-Postpartum-Period). In addition they suggest that women begin pelvic exercises also known as Kegels right after the birth.
According to the Mayo Clinic, postpartum women should aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, keeping the following guidelines in mind:
• Take time to warm up and cool down.
• Begin slowly and increase your pace gradually.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Wear a supportive bra and, if you’re breast-feeding, nursing pads in case your breasts leak.
• Avoid excessive fatigue.
• Stop exercising if you feel pain.
You may not have to binge-train to lift a 25-pound baby like I did, but even stroller walks with mom friends can do wonders. Resuming or beginning regular exercise after giving birth sets the stage for a healthier and happier way of living that you’ll enjoy with your family for many years to come.