GPA 2019 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay, by Lisa King

Grant Professionals Foundation Scholarship

It’s my favorite event of the year – the annual Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Conference. I have been to two previous conferences, but this year I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Grant Professionals Foundation Scholar. This year was also particularly special for me because I earned my Grant Professionals Certification (GPC) in April.

Washington, DC was a dream setting. Coming from Southern California, the cool air and autumn-colored trees set a refreshing tone to be around my grant peers and learn from the experts in the field. Each year I like to choose one to two areas where I feel I need growth and attend the appropriate breakout sessions. My focus was on evaluation and federal funding because the organization I work for, the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), was recently awarded a Perkins grant and it had been a long time since OCDE had received federal funding.The conference gave me the perfect opportunity to brush up my skills.

The first two sessions I attended were fantastic! I kicked off my morning with A Better (or Just More Fun) Way to Logic Model. The session was hosted by Erin Holbrook from Via Evaluation. Erin was engaging and allowed time for hands-on implementation on how to create a logic model. One of the biggest takeaways was the “If —>Then” logic. It was stated that the Inputs, Activities, and Outputs are the “If” and the Outcomes and Impact are the “Then”. For example, “IF you do x and y, THEN it should equal z.” This logic ultimately shows change over time.

The next session I attended was, Federal Grant Post Award Considerations for Grant Writers. This was hosted by Scott S. Sheffler in partnership with Feldesman + Tucker + Leifer + Fidell, LLP. For those with federal funding or considering federal funding, this session was informative! It was stated in the very beginning that, “Federal grants do not give you money, you are entering into an agreement.” Word to the wise, look at the three “Certains”: 1) certain activities (scope of work); 2) certain time periods (project and budget period); and 3) certain costs (necessary and reasonable). Make sure what you are agreeing to is beneficial to your organization and the beneficiaries of the funding/program. I could have listened to Scott present for hours. The knowledge gained in this session was worth the cost of the conference!

The rest of my days were great and connections I made/make are priceless. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to attending more GPA conferences in the future.

Scholarship applications for the GPA 2020 Annual Conference will open soon. More information is available here.