Not a Popularity Contest: Winning Tips for GPF Scholarship Applications

By Judy Riffle, Ed.D. – GPF Board Member and Marketing Committee Chair

I received a Pam Van Pelt Memorial Conference Scholarship from GPF in 2015, and felt honored and privileged to attend my first annual GPA conference in St. Louis. As soon as I met the people behind GPF, I felt an instant, warm welcome instead of a closed group, clique-type attitude. That is why I’m surprised when people tell me they won’t apply for a GPF scholarship because only certain popular people will receive one or that they’ve tried so many times they’ve given up. We ARE grant professionals—why in the world would we let that stop us? I can assure you—it is not a popularity contest. I give back to GPF willingly as a scholarship recipient, because I believe in our cause, and because I am part of a fantastic, dedicated, fair group of grant professionals.

On May 1, 2017, we will open our GPA conference scholarship applications to coincide with the annual conference registration opening date. The annual GPA conference will be in San Diego November 8-11, 2017. Mark your calendar, and be sure to apply for one of our scholarships. The following tips from GPF Board Members, the GPF Scholarship Committee, and #grantchat participants apply to all our scholarship opportunities.

Adhere to the GPA Code of Ethics.

We are looking for details on the applicant’s professional background in the #grants field.

Micki Vandeloo, GPC, GPF Scholarship Committee Chair: Keep an eye out for applications and due dates. Read the application questions carefully before answering.

Heather Stombaugh, GPC, GPF Board Chair: What are you doing for GPA or GPF now (serving local chapter as officer or committee member, writing GPA News articles, serving on a national committee or Board, mentoring a new grant pro, etc.)? What will you give back to the profession after receiving a scholarship?

The two biggest application mistakes are a lack of editing and failing to produce a compelling need statement. Use your grant skills! Watch grammar, spelling, & proof your work. A strong need or argument is not because you or your organization cannot pay for it (not because you need the money). Put your personal reflections into the narrative, and make the need logical.

You are a grant professional—write the scholarship application like you would a grant application and put your passion, creativity, storytelling, and editing skills into it. It’s free money, people!

Bethany Turner, GPC: Be sure to really describe your “why.” Why are YOU in the #grantprofession? Why do you do what you do?

Fear may be the biggest barrier to people applying for our scholarships. You don’t need to be a GPC to apply. GPF is not a clique, and the application process is not a popularity contest. Applications are reviewed fairly on their merit and to the degree questions are answered thoroughly and compellingly. It’s not about who you know; many GPF scholarships have been awarded to strangers by the Scholarship Committee and GPF Board. Case in point-me. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Note: In 2017, we will

  • Award 18 scholarships (directly from GPF)
  • Administer 7 national scholarships (“endowed”)
  • Administer 15 scholarships (through GPA Chapters)
  • Award approximately 4 regional sponsorships

Total = 44


A Very Fortunate Series of Events

By Liz Ratchford; Keystone College, Director of Grants
2016 Susan Kemp Conference Scholarship Recipient

Like many of my fellow grant professionals, I did not start off my career in the grant world. I don’t think any of us when asked as a child what we wanted to be when we grew up answered: “grant professional!” But through what I consider a very fortunate series of events, I was asked by the small community I live in, with my husband and two daughters, if I could write a grant to help rebuild a park that had been destroyed by a winter flood. I had some experience as a technical writer before becoming a stay-at-home mom so I thought sure, I would like to help rebuild the park where my children play.

So now 21 years later, I am honored to work in this profession that is responsible for so many great projects and programs coming to fruition through the work we do every day. That park grant and the completion of the project to rebuild that park led to me becoming a full-time grant professional for a government organization.

I am now at a nonprofit, private college in the northeastern tier of Pennsylvania. Keystone College is a small, rural college, in the heart of the Endless Mountains region. I love the work I do, I love that every day I learn something new, I tackle a new challenge, and I get to work with professionals that have a passion for the work we can do together.

Being the director of grants at an educational institution afforded me the opportunity to become a member of the Grant Professionals Association. The college believes in education and life-long learning, so even though financial resources are limited, our president believed it was important for me to be a member of this professional organization.

The college faculty, staff, and administration are committed to educating our students and keeping the cost of a post-secondary education affordable for the students we serve. This vision is something I truly believe in and so I work to obtain grant funding to serve our students, staff, and faculty. I am so fortunate to have found that I have skills and talents that allow me to be a successful grant professional.

My next goal after becoming a member of the GPA was to attend an annual conference and improve my professional skill set (because we are always about articulating our goals and objectives). Since the college’s resources are limited I decided I would apply for a Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF) Conference Scholarship.

I submitted the scholarship request and hoped I had made a convincing argument for my need and my institution’s need for the support. I was so honored to receive the Susan B. Kemp Scholarship.

I had a wonderful experience at the conference in Atlanta! The networking, educational sessions, workshops, grant vendors, and especially volunteering at the auction were professionally enriching experiences.

I came back to Keystone energized and ready to take on any new grant challenge that came my way to serve the college and our students! My attendance at the conference was only possible because of the GPF scholarship. For the first time in my grant career I was in a room of professionals that understood the joys, challenges, and disappointments we encounter as part of our work. It was a pleasure to spend a few days with you in Atlanta, and I hope to see you all again very soon.