Mount Union Students Assisting Local Agencies with Grant Writing and Strategic Planning

March 21, 2010

Students at Mount Union are learning both inside and outside of the classroom the importance of grant writing and strategic planning in nonprofit organizations.

“The class has been very well received,” said Susan Denning, director of stewardship and grants at Mount Union, who is teaching the special topics course for the first time that focuses specifically on grant writing and strategic planning through the Department of Sociology. Denning not only identifies grants on a daily basis for the Mount Union community, she also has been writing grants for nearly 30 years. “I’m hoping to whet the student’s appetite to write grants and show them how grant writing can make communities a better place.”

Nearly 20 students are enrolled in the course and come from a variety of academic disciplines including education, English, peace communication, sociology and psychology.

In this course, students have the opportunity to experience both sides of grant writing. The students work with local organizations that need grant funds and help them develop a grant proposal. The local organizations that the students are working with to create these proposals include Stark County Commissioners Advisory Board to Dog Warden, Archbishop Hoban High School, Friends of the Pound, Alliance of Children and Families, Alliance Community Pantry and Copeland Oaks Foundation.

“It’s competitive,” said Denning. “When writing a grant proposal, you have to tell an interesting story. I’m teaching the students to write as if their proposal is the last proposal in the stack; proposals have to stand out.”

Mount Union received word in December of 2009 that it had been awarded four Pay it Forward philanthropy mini-grants totaling $18,500 for the spring and fall semesters of 2010, which are being used to provide opportunities for students to learn about philanthropy in various courses and engage with the local community by helping address some of Alliance’s biggest needs.  The grant writing and strategic planning course was granted one of the mini-grants and will be awarding up to $4,500 to local organizations serving the Alliance area.

Students also will have to evaluate each organization’s proposal and determine which organization should receive the funds to conduct strategic planning. Request for proposals from local nonprofit organizations that wish to conduct strategic planning processes in the future are still being accepted. Proposals should be submitted by March 26 to Denning. For additional information and proposal guidelines, contact her at (330) 829-8239 or

To The Top!