Though instances of HIV and AIDS aren’t as frequent as they once were, the disease remains a predominant threat within one community in particular.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculate that blacks and African-Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV and those who have received an AIDS diagnosis compared to any other race or ethnicity. In total, blacks and African-Americans account for 44 percent of HIV diagnoses but comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population.
With help from a grant written by Resource Associates, Bethune-Cookman University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Daytona Beach, Florida, has taken steps to protect its students and surrounding community from the risk of HIV and AIDS.
As a private college, Bethune-Cookman cannot depend on federal funding. Instead, it relies on tuition, private contributions and, of course, grants. “Grants are important to fulfilling the mission of Bethune-Cookman University because the funding allows us to provide programs that we cannot fund otherwise,” says Chipella Jordan, Assistant Vice President of Foundations and Corporate Relations and formally with the University’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research.
Prior to 2012, University staff were responsible for writing grants, and the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research assisted with project management, writing and review. “I remember preparing a grant submission could take as many as eight days,” recalls Jordan. “The University reached a point where many faculty were writing and additional hands were needed to help with the volume. The big-dollar proposals require an exorbitant amount of time to develop properly; therefore, it made sense to contract those out.”
As is the case for so many nonprofits, time and money is often in short supply. But A Loving Heart doesn’t let that affect their work. They know that if they need money, they can secure it with grants. If they don’t have time to find and win those grants, they have a partner who can help.
Bethune-Cookman’s then-president recalled working with Resource Associates at a prior institution and made the recommendation to Jordan, who recognized the time-saving (and money-earning) potential of hiring a grant-writing firm.
As the relationship with Resource Associates grew, the University’s grant-writing process evolved. When University staff found a grant opportunity, Resource Associates developed a plan along with the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research. They would outline faculty contributors, identify subject-matter- expert writers and create a timeline. Then, writing would commence.
“The Resource Associates writer would research background and statistical information to include, prepare questions for the faculty to answer and assist with budget preparation,” explains Jordan.
In addition to writing, Resource Associates lent expertise and project management to the grant- writing process. Additional Resource Associates staff would review the proposal periodically, recommending ways to make it stronger and more compelling. Resource Associates also assisted with the final review along with University staff.
This process resulted in Bethune-Cookman winning a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The University used the $780,000 it received over the course of three years to expand on an earlier grant-funded project, Steps.
“The University created the Steps program in 2010 to train constituents on how to identify a person displaying suicidal behavior, placing an emphasis on dismissing myths and stigma associated with mental health, depression and suicide within the African-American community and other communities of color,” Jordan says.
The second iteration, Steps 2, focused on addressing another issue of concern: substance abuse and HIV prevention. The program targeted Bethune-Cookman University students as well as individuals residing in surrounding communities between the ages of 18 – 24. It also included partnerships with two off-campus organizations: the Volusia County Health Department and Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare.
Over the course of three years, Steps 2 served at least 2,000 students and 200 faculty and staff, placing a special focus on entering freshmen, seniors, athletes, LGBTQ, and veteran students.
Among its services, Steps 2:
“The grant made possible services that included information and referral, crisis services, detoxification, outpatient and residential services, supportive housing, prevention programs, and community outreach and education,” Jordan highlights. She says the program helped improve the quality and intensity of services through evidence-based practices for prevention and intervention that emphasized family and peer support while addressing the unique needs of a predominately African-American community.
After working with Resource Associates on the SAMHSA grant and other grant projects, Jordan says she recommends them because they are “all in” when writing proposals. “The staff members are knowledgeable and patient,” she says. “They want to ensure that your proposal project is funded.”