Friday, March 16, 2007

#33: Eliminate the Dreadful 'his/her' from Your Grant Narrative

Don't you just hate to write sentences like "The most improved student will present a portfolio of his/her work?"

But, I'm a feminist. Gender neutrality matters. So, try out these techniques.
  • Convert those sentences to the plural, if that will work
  • Avoid the pronoun altogether -- "The most improved student will present a portfolio of work."
  • Use the singular "their" -- "The most improved student will present a portfolio of their work."
I only recently read about the singular 'their' and intend to use it more often.
Yes, generally singular nouns take singular pronouns. But as you aptly note, 'his/her' is awkward and using only 'his' skews the meaning of a sentence. Using 'their' as a singular, inclusive pronoun has historical precedent and promotes the meaning better than those choices.

This choice has historical legitimacy, is acceptable for all informal writing and — if used consistently — for formal writing as well (though some will raise their eyebrows).

Sources: Professional Training Company: Communication Strategies for Scientists and Engineers and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition. NY:Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992

Photo by
Henrik Ahlen

#32: Parent Engagement Strategies for Grant Writers

Grant writer, how will you engage the families of your young program participants?

This question, in one form or another, keeps popping up in grant applications these days. All the research shows kids do better when their parents participate in their world.

But, engaging parents challenges even the best programs. It's especially sticky for those designing programs for adolescents. Seems like the parents of adolescents just run out of energy.

And many at-risk kids wouldn't be 'at-risk' if their parents were involved.

I turn to the Harvard Family Research Project for up-to-date research on family engagement. You'll find a wealth of information, toolkits, publications, annotated bibliographies, and a monthly newsletter from FINE.

If you write grants to fund youth programs, this site deserves a place in your favorites. And do share it with the staff providing services to youth.

Welcome to FINE - Family Involvement Network of Educators - at the Harvard Family Research Project: "The Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) is a national network of over 5,000 people who are interested in promoting strong partnerships between children's educators, their families, and their communities."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

# 31: Look at your grant narrative with squinty eyes

From travel writer and humorist Stan Sinberg --

People tend to think of writers as having one job. But they really have two. I divvy it up this way: in my writing job I pour all my creativity and story-telling skills and wit down onto the page. Then "I" swivel completely around in my chair and return as a crusty, squinty-eyed editor wearing a little poker visor. At which point I look at the thing I just wrote, and harrumph, "Ok, what did that lunkhead Sinberg give me this time?"

Well, it's the same for grant writers. I get up and walk away. Until tomorrow, if possible. When I enter edit mode I'm a different person. Brutal.

Sometimes I have to trick myself. I save those sentences and paragraphs I'm in love with that just don't fit right. But, I paste them into a separate document. I tell myself I'll come back and use them later or elsewhere. I don't. I throw them away.

Nurture the crusty, old, squinty-eyed editor in you. Your writing will be stronger. Your wastebasket will be full.

Source: AWAI

Photo by Claude Covo-Farchi

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My New Grant Writing Help Web Site

I've just published a new website - A work in-progress to be sure, but fun to do. Take a look and tell me what you think.

I'm in the pause between intense grants. Trying to take a deep breath. Clear the brain. Get some fresh air. Think about other things.

I finished an application to provide transition services for soon-to-graduate high school students with disabilities. I'm picking up speed on two new ones -- a mentoring grant and a community drop-in center/after-school program.

I find that during these brief pauses I surf through craft sites, fashion sites, Flickr groups -- lots of pictures and no words. Lots of color -- no black and white.

Do you use color in your grant applications? I haven't, but I'd like to. It could make the pages more readable if carefully applied. The problem rests with the unknown. Will the evaluator read it on-line and with color? or print it out in black and white, anyhow?

Photo by Chris Gierszewski