DOEE Offers Free Grant Writing Instruction

A Writing Course That Can Literally Pay Off

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LGBQT in rain female couple of bi-racial painting on sewer 2 Anacostia Watershed 2017.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to write a compelling proposal or hone your grant-writing skills? Do you have a creative idea for a river clean-up project that needs some funding to get off the ground? DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is providing free grant writing classes that you may want to check out.

The series of five free workshops is being held every Tuesday from September 18 through October 26 from 5:30-8:30pm at THEARC located at 1901 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington DC 20020. There is no prior experience required to attend these workshops, and participants are not required to attend all five sessions.

While the grant writing workshops focus on the DOEE’s Community Stormwater Solutions grants, the proposal writing exercise will apply to any grant writing need. The courses are designed to be fun, hands on, and interactive. Individuals as well as community-based organizations, non-profits, businesses, Parent Teacher Associations, and neighborhood association representatives are encouraged to attend. Since 2016, DOEE has offered Community Stormwater Solution grants to groups around the District that are interested in undertaking projects that directly – or indirectly – improve water quality. Funding has been allocated to a wide array of projects including efforts to reduce trash and raise awareness about citizen action for restoring the District’s rivers, streams, and parks.   Since its inception, DOEE has awarded 30 grants totaling some $550,000. Learn more about DOEE’s Community Stormwater Solutions grant program and previous award winners here: https://doee.dc.gov/service/community-stormwater-solutions-grants .

The September 18 workshop will focus on the importance of stormwater in our personal and community lives. Subsequent workshops will focus more explicitly on how to write a compelling project description, the importance of collaborating with other partner groups and developing a realistic budget and accompanying narrative. The workshops will also demystify common proposal terminology such as “outputs” and “outcomes” and provide guidance for developing persuasive outputs, outcomes, as well as goals and metrics to strengthen a proposal and increase chances for funding. The course will also cover other common elements that may be required in a proposal and provide guidance for their development. A final workshop on October 16th will focus on what is to be expected once a proposal has been funded. More information about the workshops and a link to RSVP to the sessions can be found at https://doee.dc.gov/event/free-grant-writing-workshop-series.

While the grant writing workshops don’t require anyone to write a proposal for one of DOEE’s Community Stormwater Solution grants, the agency hopes participants will be encouraged to apply once they hear more about these grants.  DOEE notes that stormwater runoff occurs when rain and snowmelt does not get absorbed into the ground. This happens more in places with impervious surfaces (such as streets, parking lots, driveways, cement sidewalks, and rooftops), and leads to problems like pollution, flooding, and erosion. According to DOEE, more than 40 percent of DC is covered by these impervious surfaces. These Community Stormwater Solution grants are designed to fund small-scale community efforts that increase stormwater absorption. Past recipients of these grants include such diverse projects as:

  • a grant to the Anacostia Watershed Society to work with Lamond-Riggs Civic Association, Langston Civic Association, and Historic Anacostia Block Association to build watershed awareness and foster community among neighbors through environmental engagement opportunities during the Year of the Anacostia;
  • a grant to the Anacostia Coordinating Council and the Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway to launch a pilot program to hire Ward 8 residents as Park Stewards. The steward will engage and educate neighbors of Oxon Run, Suitland Parkway, and Fort Stanton about the importance of litter prevention and illegal dumping; and
  • a grant to American University to redesign and renovate an existing, poorly functioning green roof to improve stormwater holding capacity, increase pollinator productivity, and promote educational opportunities.

Not surprisingly, DOEE Director Tommy Wells is a huge fan of these writing workshops and the Community Stormwater Solution grants. “DOEE is very proud to be offering these grants. We’re also grateful to Building Bridges Across the River (the non-profit group that runs THEARC) and the DC’s Department of Transportation 11th Street Bridge Project who are working with us to support these grant writing workshops. 2018 is the Year of the Anacostia, and we’re working very hard to make the Anacostia cleaner and even swimmable. We need community support to make this happen, and we hope that these workshops coupled with this grant opportunity will spur some creative ideas!”

Interested in learning more about these workshops or the Community Stormwater Solution grants? Contact Kara Pennino at DOEE at kara.pennino@dc.gov or 202-654-6131. It could really pay off!

Catherine Plume is a lifelong environmentalist, a writer, and blogger for the DC Recycler: www.DCRecycler.blogspot.com; Twitter: @DC_Recycler.  She is also a Board Member and Conservation Chair of the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, however, perspectives expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent the positions of that organization.