Diplomas Now – A highly successful nonprofit

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell) 

I was recently in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I read a story in the local newspaper about a nonprofit I had not heard of before. The name of the nonprofit is Diplomas Now, and as most of us would assume from that name, they seek to increase graduation rates. This nonprofit started in Philadelphia in 2008, where it worked in a 700-student middle school. Because of their success, they now work with other school systems to increase graduation rates.

The first step in their approach is to identify struggling students. This is done through working with local school officials and teachers to apply a profiling system focusing on chronic absenteeism, poor behavior, and low achievement in core courses. The next steps include developing a strategic plan for each struggling student, implementing that plan, and then closely tracking each student. For those students in greatest need, contact is made as-needed with community resources such as counseling, health care, housing, food, and clothing.

There are many more details about each Intervention step, but I would like to focus on reported outcomes. The following report involves one Tulsa middle school and one Tulsa high school participating in this program for two years. Each year, over 800 students attended these schools. Here are the reported outcomes.

– 51% reduction in the percent of students with poor attendance
– 80% reduction in the number of suspended students
– 83% reduction in the number of students failing math
– 88% reduction in the number of students failing English

These results are amazing to me. Substantial improvement in client performance appears to be caused by Diplomas Now. I salute their good work.

An issue of importance is related to what outcome information is reported here. Note that true client outcomes are reported. This point is significant because many nonprofits report only agency activity, such as number of clients the agency has served and sessions the agency has conducted. Although number of clients served and number of sessions conducted are important, the impact our programs have on the clients we seek to serve must be reported.

Diplomas Now not only zeroes in on core measures of client behavior changes, but provides nearly unbelievable levels of success. This appears to be a very sophisticated and successful program.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Summary of parts of a high quality grant proposal

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell) 

Hello. In my last post, I shared some ideas about the last two parts of a grant proposal. In this post, I simply want to provide a final listing of parts of a grant proposal. Below is the list of parts of proposals that I have discussed in previous posts. 

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Statement of Need
  4. Goal
  5. Objectives
  6. Procedures
  7. The Budget
  8. Qualifications
  9. Evaluation
  10. Sustainability
  11. Dissemination
  12. Appendix
  13. Sources Cited

If you seek the highest quality grant proposal possible, I encourage you to read my earlier comments. Although you might already be aware of everything I wrote in previous posts, it is possible that one or two of my ideas might be new to you. In the highly competitive environment of seeking grant funding, any competitive edge can be helpful.

I want to repeat that the above list of parts in a grant proposal is for the longer proposals. Many funding sources allow only a very small amount of space, and for the short proposals, there will not be enough room to include all of the above parts.

I have been teaching grant proposal writing at my university for over 30 years, and I have taught grant writing to over 3,600 students. If any readers of this blog would like to check out our grant writing courses, please feel free to look at my university’s web site at www.fhsu.edu or call our Virtual College at 785-628-4291. If you show up in one of my future courses, I would enjoy working with you.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Grant Proposals – Appendix, Sources Cited

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Several weeks ago, I began sharing some of my ideas about how we can strengthen our writing of parts of our grant proposals. But I have occasionally stepped away from that discussion to address other social entrepreneurship issues. It is time for me to return to discussion of parts of a proposal.

In previous posts, I shared some of my thoughts on the following parts of a grant proposal.

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Statement of Need
  4. Goal
  5. Objectives
  6. Procedures
  7. The Budget
  8. Qualifications
  9. Evaluation
  10. Sustainability
  11. Dissemination

 I would now like to share some of my ideas on the importance of the last two parts of a grant proposal: 

  1. Appendix
  2. Sources Cited

The Appendix should include any material that is too large to be placed in the main part of the proposal. Everything included in the Appendix should be referred to in the main part of the proposal. A common part of an Appendix is letters of support and letters of commitment. Bids from vendors or printed adds for items to be purchased can also be important parts of an Appendix.

The Sources Cited section of a grant proposal should identify where we found 1) statistics we cite in the proposal, 2) quotes we use, and 3) the other sources we used in writing our grant proposal. We should provide enough details about these sources that any reviewer can locate those sources if desired.

Both of these last two parts of a proposal are very important for larger proposals because they allow us to document the ideas we have discussed in the proposal. The Appendix and Sources Cited sections show the proposal reviewers that we have conducted a literature search to identify and use legitimate sources to document important points in our proposal. (For small proposals of only a few pages, there may be no space allowed to include an Appendix or Sources Cited section.)

When I reviewed proposals for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I always looked for documentation of statistics and documentation of positions taken in the proposals. I did not read the Appendices and Sources Cited sections closely, but I glanced at them to be sure that legitimate sources were used and identified.

Many proposal writers will not include an Appendix or Sources Cited section either because they don’t know it is important or because of the additional work. But please know that these sections are important, and including them can help you separate your proposal from some of the competition.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Social entrepreneurship in a canoe

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell) 

In my last post, I shared part of my experience on a recent canoe outing on the Missouri River on the border of the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska. I would like to share another idea that I have been reflecting on from that experience.

As I mentioned in the last post, the canoe trip was with some youth in a mentoring program on the reservation called Young Braves. The purpose of the program is to help the kids stay on a healthy path in life, and our approach is very subtle – we simply spend time with them in nature, working on nature crafts and education.

After I wrote my last post, I was thinking about how “rare” the experience was with the one youth who shared my canoe. The rarity was how peaceful things were, in contrast to how the kids run around talking, laughing, and sometimes yelling when we are camping. When camping, we leaders often have to “herd” the kids in the direction of the next planned activity. Sometimes, we find that our planned activity just won’t work. For example, if they have so much energy in them that they can’t sit still, we leaders will adapt and find another activity that fits their energized condition.

But in the canoe, something else happened. There was peace. Unusual.

The youth in my canoe was one of my favorites. He was 5 years old when he started attending the Young Braves outings, and he is now 12. He is a kick, sometimes a little wild, which I like. What happened is that after we hit the water, we got caught up on life, and then there was the beautiful peacefulness and relative silence of being on the water. But every now and then, one of us would say something, and we would converse.

What hit me a couple days ago as I was reflecting on the experience is that a canoe is a wonderful place for a conversation with a young person. They are a captive, but they don’t know it because they are having fun. They can’t run around and yell with their friends when in a canoe. What an opportunity to “really communicate.”

I want to use his name, but I won’t…I’ll call him Mike. I had no conversational agenda on that canoe trip. I was there just to have fun with the kids. But conversation did occur, nothing heavy, just easy talk. I asked him about his summer, and he told me about the fun he is having. I often ask him where he is going to college, but I didn’t this time. I’ll ask again in a month or so. I like to keep that idea in his mind.

But 2 events stand out in my mind. One is that when he saw something interesting, he would share that with me. For example, he would see a turtle on a log, and he would point it out to me. I had the opportunity to honestly share that he has “very good eyes,” that he sees things before most other people would see them. Then he really started looking to point out other things he saw. He truly is good, and I honestly continued sharing how impressed I was. There is no question that he felt good about this.

The second event happened when we stopped to let another canoe catch up with us. Mike and I were walking on a sand bar, and there was a small and shallow inlet (about five yards wide and about a foot deep) that went toward land and became more shallow before it ended. I told him that this is the perfect situation for starting a “fish drive” in a survival situation, to drive any fish in the small inlet toward the end, and then spear them. So without spears, and with no expectation of finding fish in this little inlet, we started the drive. There was a big carp there, and Mike was able to catch it. He then released it unharmed.

This provided an opportunity for me to “brag” on Mike when the canoes were close enough together to talk. Reporting honestly on the events, I was able to figuratively give Mike some big pats on his back. Especially since Young Braves is partly devoted to teaching traditional survival techniques, Mike’s ability to catch a big carp was very significant.

When I was canoeing with Mike, I didn’t think about how different the time was, compared to our campouts. But I see it now. What a special time that was.

Small bits of time in a mentoring program, when people are just having fun, can sometimes have special meaning. In addition to having a blast with the kids, I hope I helped this young man feel good about himself. I think I did.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Report on my work with Nebraska youth

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am involved in a small social entrepreneurship project that I occasionally mention on this blog site, and I would like to file a short report.

I just returned from a trip to the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska. The reservation is right across the Missouri River from South Dakota, and I had an exciting time in a canoe on that river. I was hanging out with some Santee Sioux kids and leaders of a youth group named Young Braves. We normally camp and work on wilderness survival skills, but this trip was devoted to canoeing.

One canoe tipped over, but thankfully it was not mine. Two Young Braves tried to switch seating positions in the front of a canoe while on the water, and it didn’t work very well. My good friend, Butch, the main leader of the youth group, got dumped in water about 2 feet deep. Everyone was wearing life jackets, and nobody was injured. That canoe was behind mine a bit, and I didn’t get to see the tip-over. I am so disappointed! With a big grin on my face, I later told Butch how much I wish I could have seen his eyes before he went in.

It is interesting that sometimes just having fun with young people can be meaningful. What we are trying to do through this youth program is to help participating Santee youth feel good about themselves and their Santee heritage. We are trying to help the kids be strong and stay on a healthy path in life. We try to have activities that in some way relate to the heritage of the Santee. Usually, we are camping and building firebows, fish traps, or snowshoes. But canoeing relates to the Santee also, since they were forcibly removed from central Minnesota lake country in the 1860s.

Next summer, we might take the kids up to Minnesota to canoe, probably in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area up north. That trip would involve paddling through several lakes and carrying canoes and gear (portaging) from lake to lake. It is an absolutely fantastic experience for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Practicing the art of canoeing, and not tipping over, close to home are important steps before that bigger adventure.

So that is my report – a few hours doing a little thing to help a few kids in a small way.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A quick note on beauty and social entrepreneurship

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

 (Written by Keith Campbell)

When I read books in my personal life, I am often seeking something. I picked up a book yesterday that I started reading a few years ago. I selected this book because I want to be able to better appreciate the simple things around me. I feel that I am speeding through my days without “seeing” all the beauty around me. The title of the book is Beauty: Rediscovering the True Sources of Compassion, Serenity, and Hope. The author is John O’Donohue. O’Donohue is from Ireland, and when he was alive, he partially represented a traditional Celtic world view. I have difficulty grasping all that I read from him, but I am intrigued by the ideas I can comprehend.

I have been raised in a modern society, and my society has created “edges” on my way of looking at life. One of these edges is my perceived need to define important terms if they are to be fully discussed. In this book on beauty, O’Donohue refuses to define beauty. He says it can’t be defined.

This really irritates me.

But then I remember why I am reading this book. I am trying to become a somewhat different person. I am trying to soften my edges and see more of what is around me as I speed through life. It is like O’Donohue wants me to “feel” my way through his book, rather than “think” my way through it. I’m not used to that. I speculate that he also wants me to much more feel my way through life than I am currently doing. I’m interested in trying to do that.

The above does not directly relate to social entrepreneurship, but I want to share my combined frustration and fascination with O’Donohue’s approach. I share this partly because it feels good to confess this problem, and partly because some readers might be similar to me, and might benefit from a softer and more subtle viewing of the beauty around us that we take for granted.

So finally, I want to share how beauty and social entrepreneurship are related. This won’t sound like an earth-shattering point, but I find special meaning here. Projects created to assist people in need represent beauty. O’Donohue writes, “Wherever there is tenderness, care and kindness, there is beauty.”

What is the definition of beauty? I don’t know. But the caring and assistance we direct toward people in need is beauty.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Grant Proposals – Dissemination

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am nearing the end of my discussion of parts of grant proposals. After this post, I have only one other note to you for strengthening your grant proposals. I hope some of my suggestions are helpful!

In previous posts, I shared some of my thoughts on the following parts of a grant proposal.

1. Title Page
2. Abstract
3. Statement of Need
4. Goal
5.
Objectives
6. Procedures
7. The Budget
8. Qualifications
9. Evaluation
10. Sustainability

I would now like to discuss the following:

11. Dissemination

In this section of our proposal, we should explain how we plan to share the results of our project after the grant funding has ended. The experiences we have had through a grant-funded project to help others in need are probably valuable to some other organizations that seek to help similar people in need. Our dissemination section of the proposal explains what sources we will use to try to share what we learned with what other types of organizations.

Our experiences from the project include problems we had, as well as successes. Sometimes, we learn as much from difficulties experienced as we learn when our project goes as planned. Thus, if we feel comfortable sharing difficulties experienced (as well as the success), this information might be very helpful to other organizations working with similar clients.

Here are a few suggestions for places to use for dissemination.

1. Web sites
2. Newsletters
3. Local newspaper press releases
4. Local radio press releases
5. Presentations at professional conferences
6. Publications in professional journals
7. Emails to professional colleagues

In all attempts to “spread the word” about our project, we should be sure to explain that the project was funded by a grant from ________ (insert the name of the funding source here). Many funding sources like the publicity for their organization provided by organizations they fund.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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