CNN Hero: Annette March-Grier

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Jeannie Majercin)

Super heroes currently abound on our movie screens and in the pages of comic books. However, we often overlook the true heroes that live amongst us. While these individuals may not possess super-human strength , or leap tall buildings, they are definitely heroes in the truest sense of the word. CNN has chosen to highlight these incredible individuals through their CNN Heroes campaign. Each year, the news organization brings worldwide attention to individuals who are making a difference in the lives of others. Their choices are narrowed down to a top ten list and the public is asked to vote for one person to be chosen as CNN Hero of the Year. In 2014, several people were chosen to potentially receive this honor and I would like to feature one of these heroes in this week’s blog posting; Annette March-Grier.

In 2008, Annette March –Grier founded Roberta’s House in Baltimore, Maryland, in order to provide a safe environment for children and their families to deal with the grief and trauma associated with losing a loved one. According to Grier (CNN, 2014), “A child’s grief over the loss of a loved one is often complicated by the loss of security and identity. This shift can be very dangerous if there’s no support system.” Roberta’s House provides peer support groups, counseling, and workshops for anyone who needs their services. Children are encouraged to share their feelings and process their grief; expressing how they feel rather than keeping things bottled inside. The nonprofit also reaches out to adolescents who have been impacted by juvenile incarceration, providing them with the support they need to avoid traveling down a path that will negatively impact their futures. March-Grier looks at these children and sees potential rather than failure. In her eyes, grief is considered a public health issue that needs to be addressed. Through Roberta’s House, she is reaching out to children and adults in the greater community and providing them with the resources to heal and strengthen their families.

An important aspect of the programs and services March-Grier provides for her community is that they are offered free of charge. In our society, children (and their families) often face financial barriers to accessing quality mental health resources. In particular, grief counseling and also support for children impacted by incarceration (either their own or a parent’s). As a grant proposal writer, I have created several funding requests for mental health and trauma intervention programs for children. Young people are so often the ones overlooked when it comes to the impact of trauma; they need a place to turn in order to process their grief and move forward. March-Grier understands first-hand how devastating the loss of a loved one can be for a child. Over the years, she witnessed death’s impact on thousands of individuals as she was growing up in her family’s funeral home business. In Baltimore, she has also seen the negative effects of deaths associated with increased gang violence and crime. In response to the growing need for grief intervention services for children, March-Grier created Roberta’s House. In order to help children, she noted the importance in healing the entire family unit; providing the tools for children and their families to confront their grief and nurture hope for the future.

In my opinion, Annette March-Grier epitomizes social entrepreneurship in action. She recognized a need in her community and responded to that need in a real and effective manner. Children are a valuable resource in our world and we need to work to ensure they live happy and healthy futures. By intervening at a pivotal point in their young lives- when they are grieving the loss of a loved one- Roberta’s House provides the means for children and their families to move beyond the often paralyzing impact of grief and embrace a future of possibilities. To me, this is what social entrepreneurship is all about- making positive futures a reality for those in our communities that are far too often overlooked and under-served. Each day, Annette March-Grier further strengthens the social entrepreneurial belief that one person can make a difference in the lives of others and contribute to making the world a better place.  

For more information on Roberta’s House:

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Jeannie

Read More

CNN Heroes

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

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Over the last three weeks, I have been writing about issues that relate to everyday people stepping forward to start a project to help others in need. My hope is that some information from this blog will help maybe a few people begin walking the path leading to the start of projects to help others. My hope is that some of the ideas and skills discussed in this blog may be helpful to some.

Three weeks I wrote about (1) the power of normal, everyday people. I believe they (we!) are the heart of human societies. We everyday people are the ones who are in the trenches living life. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We eat, sleep, and breather real life, and we understand much. As a consequence, we are in excellent positions to see needs that are not being met. I believe regular, everyday people have the best ideas for new projects that need to be started to help others.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about (2) big projects compared to small projects. I suggested that “small” is very “big,” in the sense that small projects are easier to start and manage. Small projects are less intimidating to start, and for most of us, focusing on being small is important in the beginning. When many small projects exist, “big good” is happening.

Last week, I wrote about (3) what it means to be a hero, and I suggested that heroes are all around us. They look much like us, not physically perfect beings, common people who are helping others in need and simply view their helping others as a wonderful opportunity in life. True heroes don’t view themselves as heroes, and they neither seek nor need attention. They are driven. They are committed.

The posts from the last three weeks are intended to establish some foundational ideas and build a stage. I wanted to emphasize that (1) normal, everyday people can (2) start small projects to (3) make heroic contributions to our world.

In the next few weeks, Jeannie Majercin, a colleague of mine on this blog site, will be sharing her favorite CNN Heroes from 2014. (As some of you know, CNN is a television network in the United States that has an awards program for everyday people who have started projects to help others in need.) I look forward to reading Jeannie’s comments!

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More

What does it mean to be a hero?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

In our society and world, many people are called heroes, but I’m not sure all people who receive that label fit my idea of being a hero. Although the way I look at the meaning of hero is simply my perspective, I would like to share it.

Before I do that, though, I would like to say that I believe there are heroes all around us. Many of them don’t look like the stereotype image of a hero that comes to my mind, for these people look very common. They look like regular people, those who live by us and those we pass on the sidewalk and at work. In the abstract, they look a lot like us – not physically perfect beings, but common, everyday people.

The heroes I have in mind are those people who are assisting others in need. Good parents are heroes to me. People who volunteer because of a passion they have in their hearts are heroes to me. Adult children who care for their aging parents are also heroes. In addition, those who organize and contribute to new projects to help others can meet my notion of hero if their hearts are pure. This last example is one of social entrepreneurship, the main focus of this blog .

Allow me to share my notion of the meaning of hero. A hero:
– Has a strong commitment to a worthy cause
– Is focused and often consumed by this cause
– Makes a significant sacrifice for that worthy cause
– Often does not perceive making a sacrifice – they think they are “doing their duty”
– Does not seek or need attention from others
– Typically does not view himself/herself as a hero

Did I cover the key characteristics of a hero? I think I have captured the key ideas related to my notion of a hero.

I think the above characteristics fit a variety of types of heroes, from the iconic military hero to those I referred to earlier, the everyday heroes living among us. While I am in awe at what those military heroes have done, I am also amazed at the people who live among us who are heroes.

Since this blog focuses on social entrepreneurship, that is the direction I would like to head now. Worldwide, there is so much opportunity to start small projects to help just a few people in need within one’s local community – and I think most people who start these types of projects are heroes. Sometimes, these small projects are so innovative and meaningful that they grow into large projects serving many people in need.

Most of us, at some time in our lives, think about helping a specific category of people in need. Some of us think about starting a project to help those people. Some of those who think about starting a project actually start that project. To me, these are heroes. These people don’t start these projects to become heroes, but that is what they become. More on this will be discussed in our next post.

Thanks for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More

Big vs small projects to help others

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Many of us have great interest in helping others in need, and we frequently think about ways that categories of people in need might be assisted. In our dreams, we might think about successful fund raising and grant proposal writing that allows a substantial program to be started to help many people. In our dreams, maybe even a national organization is initiated.

Our dreams about helping others can be very important, for they often provide an ideal situation that can later provide valuable guidance for us. In addition, these dreams are fun. But realistically, “big” might not be the best focus. in this post, I want to share my excitement about “small” as being really “big.”

I believe we normal, everyday people can change the world. (In fact, I believe we are already doing this, but so much more is needed to be done.) But we normal, everyday people have busy lives, and the resources quickly available to us are fewer than those who are rich and famous. Thus, I believe we need to think small. We need to move slowly and take small steps.

For example, perhaps we should test our idea starting with only 10 clients, or even five. Maybe hundreds of people are in need, but maybe we test our idea the first year with only a few clients.

This reminds me of a youth mentoring project I am trying to help start in north central Arkansas. Our plan is to work with only five youth in the first year of operation. Although the Steering Committee with which I am meeting has not yet committed to starting this project, if we do start, we will begin with only five youth. The reason is that we want to look for problems that we haven’t anticipated. We want to be able to tweak the project idea before opening the project to many youth.

Starting small:
– is easier to manage
– is less expensive financially
– requires less labor
– is a good way to look for unanticipated problems before expanding
– is simpler to shut down if it is learned that the project idea doesn’t work

How many normal, everyday people would consider (at some time in their lives) starting a large project to help others? Answer: Fewer people than who would consider starting a small project to help others.

In my work, I am trying to help open the gate wide to people who think about stepping forward to starting a project to help others in need. One way the gate can be as wide as possible is to suggest that only a small – less intimidating – project is started.

Small is big.

I believe that knowing we can start small and “test the waters” is a key to more people stepping forward to become social entrepreneurs.

We can change the world.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More

The power of being a regular person

Posted by on Oct 29, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

What type of person has the best innovative ideas for helping categories of people in need? Is it the professional social entrepreneurs (people working within an industry that is assisting people in need), or is it common, everyday people? It seems to me that it is the regular people who have the best ideas for new approaches to help others in need.

It is not easy to innovate. Coming up with a meaningful new idea is usually difficult. Certainly, this is true in the area of inventing a new technology. This is also true in the social arena, for coming up with a meaningful new way of helping a category of people in need is not easy. So what type of person is most likely to come up with a valuable social entrepreneurship idea?

I believe normal, everyday people are where we find the best new ideas. An everyday person is one who doesn’t make the headlines in a newspaper or magazine, maybe a person not even well known within his or her local community. People who are “just living life” are the best source of new ideas for helping others.

Within this category of people are those who see and experience just about all aspects of life, from birth through death. If we are thoughtful as we watch life, ideas emerge. We seek to make sense of the sometimes confusing world around us. As we watch others experience difficulties, we learn that we are not immune from the tough times in life. Each of us experiences some of life’s difficulties.

I believe it is those thoughtful normal, everyday people who have the greatest potential to have innovative ideas on how to assist others in need.

– A restaurant owner devises a way to help feed lower income youth living in run down motels
– A jogger builds a jogging program for people in homeless shelters
– A college student starts a program to help youth whose parents are in prison
– A mother raising her children in a gang-infested neighborhood makes her house a tutoring center for teen gang members who want to improve themselves


The above are real-life examples of everyday people who had a light bulb go off in their minds. It is not “special” people who have the best ideas for how to help others. It is those of us who see the problems and sometimes live the problems that have the best social entrepreneurship ideas.

I celebrate normal, everyday people. We can change the world!

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More

How much time should we have to write a grant proposal?

Posted by on Oct 21, 2015 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

The amount of time we have to write each of our grant proposals is an important issue, for it relates to the quality of our work, and thus the amount of money brought to projects that our grants will fund. Two important issues involved in determining the amount of time needed to write a high-quality proposal are the amount of writing needed, and whether one is working full-time or part-time.

In this post, I would like to address proposals that require no more than 20 pages of narrative (excluding completion of forms). The Federal Government proposals I have written have involved about 70 pages of narrative, and they are a different “animal” than most proposals most of us will commonly write.

In this post, I would also like to focus on people who are not full-time grant proposal writers. This would include people who are hired into a position for multiple responsibilities, one of which is proposal writing. This also includes people who are doing volunteer proposal writing for a nonprofit performing work dear to their hearts. This latter category of people, the volunteers, is a category I want to encourage and grow across our nation and world. All of my proposal writing these days is on a volunteer basis, and I am amazed at the amount of good we volunteer proposal writers can create. We are a powerful force.

When I was writing proposals for pay (while still having my university teaching job), here is a common scenario I experienced: My supervisor would call me and say, “Keith, I just found this perfect grant opportunity. As she would be telling me about it, I would become excited about how well it fit the mission of the regional hospital with which I was working. But then at the end of some of these conversations, I was informed that the proposal is due within the week.


I love the challenge of proposal writing when there is time for me to enjoy that challenge. What I mean is that I enjoy craft work, similar to a furniture maker using hand tools with a focus on the quality of the product. I enjoy losing myself in the issues that lie behind the project that the proposal will fund. I enjoy eating, sleeping, and breathing my proposals, trying to determine the most powerful ways to express my points. But the above can work only when I have the luxury of time.

I greatly dislike assembly line factory proposal writing, which is needed when there is a very short deadline. With only a few days to research the issues behind a project and write the proposal, I do not feel connected to the work, and there is no enjoyment for me.

So how much time do I believe is appropriate for writing a proposal? For a reasonably short proposal, the least amount of time acceptable to me is two weeks. Two months is ideal. For longer proposals, more time is desired, and I especially like knowing a year ahead of time. (The way we can sometimes know a year ahead of time is when funding sources offer the same funding opportunity every year. A nonprofit can then plan way in advance of a proposal deadline.)

A friend of mine recently forwarded me information about a funding source that seeks to fund projects that focus on sport for Native Americans, especially sport that relates to the traditions of Native Americans. (The deadline for proposal submission was about seven weeks from the time I received information about the funding opportunity.)This seemed to be a wonderful fit for a youth group I work with on the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska.

I immediately contacted my friend and co-leader of the youth group on the reservation. After a few days, he indicated that he liked the idea of trying to build a stronger archery program for the youth with which we work. I then emailed him to mention that the proposal would need to be submitted by the Santee Sioux Nation, and I asked if the Tribal Council would be willing to approve this idea, and then the Tribe submit the proposal that I would write.

Several more days went by with me not hearing from him, and the application deadline was now about 5 ½ weeks away. I started feeling pressure. The Tribal Council meets only once a month. There was some tribal bureaucracy (and maybe tribal politics) to get through, and I became concerned about the amount of time I would have to get appropriate information from the Tribe to be used in the grant proposal.

I eventually suggested to my friend and co-leader of the youth group that we wait until next year to submit our grant proposal. He agreed. I breathed a sigh of relief. Now we have a full year to move slowly to seek approval of the Tribal Council, and establish a contact person from the Tribe that will supply me with the needed background information for parts of the proposal.

How much time should we have to write a grant proposal? The answer to that question can vary, but I hope for you that you have enough time to enjoy the experience, to relax and become a part of what you are writing, to leisurely find compelling supportive information for your project, and to excel in the quality of writing.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More

Report on a possible youth mentoring program in Arkansas

Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Hello. I recently returned from a short trip to Mountain Home, Arkansas, where I was involved in a meeting to discuss the possibility of starting a youth mentoring program using fishing as the fun activity to attract lower income youth. I would like to file a report on that situation and some of my thoughts.

It is interesting that I formally started work on this project in October, 2014 – one year ago. At that time, I was trying to document community interest in a project to assist lower income youth. I emailed a superintendant of schools in a small town near Mountain Home to share my idea and ask if he thought this youth mentoring idea might be helpful in the area. I was surprised that I never received a response.

I then called the principle of a middle school in a small town near Mountain Home and was able to speak with his secretary. The secretary said the principle would be happy to call me to share his ideas about the possible youth mentoring project as soon as he had time. I never received a call.

This is not a good beginning.

When we want to start a project to help a category of people in need, it is crucial that we document that the community WANTS this project. We may have a great idea on paper, but if people in the area don’t want the project, then just about any project will fail. So obtaining local support is crucial, and this is one of the early steps involved in starting a social entrepreneurship project.

So in a discouraged mood, I asked myself, “What people are going to care about these kids and be willing to communicate with me?” My top idea was leaders of churches. So I emailed two priests and 13 ministers of churches in the Mountain Home area. I received support from four church leaders, with no response from nine. Four out of 15 is a very low percentage of support, but for the first time, I found support for the idea. I was pleased to find support, but I was still discouraged because of the low percentage of people indicating their support.

I was about to step away from this project for maybe a year, when last summer I met someone in a fly fishing shop in the Mountain Home area. We began talking about several issues, and I shared the idea of a youth mentoring project with him. He liked the idea! This made me think that maybe from the very beginning, I should have started talking with people who fish. Maybe it is these people who will be the biggest supporters of this idea.

My idea was to use fishing as the fun activity for the lower income youth, but in my mind, this was not about fishing. To me, the project is about helping kids in need. I view fishing simply as a tool to be used, but the project, at its core, is not a fishing project. But…surprise! It is fishing people who are the big supporters of the idea. Wow!

With this encouragement, I formed a small steering committee of fishing people. We had our first meeting a couple weeks ago, and we have the next meeting planned in November (the next time I will be able to be in the Mountain Home area). There are many problems with getting a project like this started, but there is now a team of good people trying to solve these problems, and maybe a youth mentoring project will occur. I don’t know what will happen, but I am so pleased to have some supporters.

One step at a time.

Thanks for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

Read More