Grant Writing

Grant Writing Project Success Stories

Lake Affect magazine & the Arts

During my 2004-05 tenure as an administrative intern at John Walton Spencer School No. 16, I determined that writing a grant proposal was one way I could make a positive impact on student learning. I obtained a $2,000 arts-in-education grant from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester to implement a proposal entitled “More Than a Village.” The standards-based, interdisciplinary project involved the design and creation of a mural reflecting themes important to the school-community partnerships. 5th and 6th graders explored the social history of murals, the artistic elements of the mural genre, the application of math to mural design and the use of music, poetry, and non-fiction to analyze and interpret a work of art. Visual Artist Calvin Hubbard and Poet M.J. Iuppa collaborated with Judy Via-Wolff, the school’s art teacher, the 5th and 6th grade teachers, parents and community partners to translate the vision to reality. See student writings and photographs taken of the mural-in-progress at the Lake Affect link.

A Lesson (we should all learn) Before Dying

The Importance of Promoting Literacy through the Arts

After obtaining an action research grant from the Rochester Teacher Center in January 2000, I coordinated a literature project for adult learners at the Family Learning Center – Hart Street. With instructional adaptation and support from their teachers, students read the Ernest Gaines novel, A Lesson Before Dying. Teachers of higher level second language learners, as well as teachers of GED students, used an audio taped version of the book to enhance student understanding and enjoyment of the text. A teacher for Beginning ESL students and I adapted the book into a play that students would understand. Students drew, wrote and painted their responses to the book, and finally staged the play for the entire student body, which included emerging literate adults who lacked the reading level to tackle the book. A faculty member videotaped the play, and we shared copies of it upon request with other adult education programs in New York State.

I discovered the many ways that refugees, immigrants, Adult Basic Education and General Equivalency Diploma students saw themselves in a piece of literature that deals with topics such as racial discrimination, capital punishment, criminal justice, the quest for literacy and the importance of family and community. Journal writings and class discussions opened a floodgate of memories for the students. After all, refugees are experienced in matters of life-threatening hardship and discrimination. African-American literacy students also shared painful, poignant memories of their own encounters with racism and the criminal justice system. Several ESL students, immigrants from countries around the world, had to confront the media-generated, stereotyped opinions they’d formed of African-Americans. Learning about American history did more for these students than prepare them for citizenship; it prepared them to become active participants in a diverse community of learners.

During their reading of the text, students were interviewed for the Democrat and Chronicle and for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. They also attended the dramatized version of A Lesson Before Dying and a question-and-answer session with Ernest Gaines at the GEVA Theater. To say the participants were thrilled by this wealth of activities is an understatement. In March 2003, I co-presented a workshop about this project at the International Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.