VERMILLION, S.D. – Last fall, students in the University of South Dakota Department of English Grant Writing course with instructor Ken Green helped earn the Evan Project a $5,500 grant from the Dakota Hospital Foundation.
The Evan Project is a non-profit program of the United Way of Vermillion that provides diapers to Clay County families in need through the Community Connection Center in downtown Vermillion.
The class of eight students in the upper division English course researched and wrote the grant proposal as a group. The grant will create a six-month bank of 100,000 diapers to serve 100 area children.
Green teaches students to research grant-making organizations, collect data and additional information to document a project in need of funding, and compile and complete the necessary paperwork to apply for a grant. The process and writing style differ from other classes in the English department.
“This is probably the only English class in which the students are looking at tax forms,” Green said.
The course’s practical, hands-on approach not only gives students the tools and background to pursue and write grants but can also result in tangible benefits in the community. “The students learn to conduct a different type of research that is not necessarily scholarly. They learn a different way of writing,” Green said.
While Green chooses the local non-profit project, the students take an active role through visiting and talking with project staff and touring facilities over the course of the semester. “There is a service-learning component. We were able to go down to the Community Connection Center and tour the building and see the Evan Project area,” said Green.
Kailena Anderson, a sophomore political science major who worked on the proposal as a student in the course, said she was thrilled to hear the grant had received funding.
“Knowing that our hard work paid off felt great, but most importantly, I was so grateful the Evan Project was receiving the funds,” Anderson said. “After a whole semester of learning about the Evan Project, there was no question in my mind that the grant money would be put to good use there.”
Writing in a non-academic style and working with classmates as a team to pull the grant proposal together proved challenging but also rewarding, Anderson said. “Collaborative writing is complicated, but the time and effort paid off," she said. "I believe the grant applications we produced working as a team were far better than anything one of us could have produced individually.”
Catherine Johnson, the community impact director at the United Way of Vermillion, said the USD students provided a huge service to the community through their work on the grant proposal.
“We’re so grateful to the talented USD students who helped us tell our story,” Johnson said. “Because of so many people working together, babies in our community will be happy, healthy and dry for a long time to come.”