Cleveland-Akron chapter hears about using journalism skills for grant writing

About Eileen Beal

Eileen Beal, M.A., has been covering health care and aging since the late 1990s. She's written several health-related books. including "Age Well!" with geriatrician Robert Palmer, and her work has appeared in Aging Today, Arthritis Today,WebMD and other publications.

Cleveland-area health care journalists and writers learned about grant writing as an option for freelancers to use their journalistic skills to make a living at a Feb. 27 AHCJ chapter meeting.

Ten journalists attended the Cleveland-Akron chapter’s first 2014 event, “Expanding freelance options I: Grant writing,” to hear about the pros and cons, ins and outs, and challenges and rewards of freelance grant writing.

Following a light dinner, University Hospitals/Case Medical Center development officer Sandra Erlanger discussed how she got into grant writing from journalism.

“It’s a learn-by-doing process,” she said. She also discussed the variety of writing she does – “everything from grant proposals to thank-you notes” – within the development department.

 Susan Ackerman, chair of health policy and planning at Cleveland’s Center for Community Solutions, talked about the changes coming with Affordable Care Act and the opportunities those changes are going to present for grant writing, especially for smaller health care and social service nonprofits.

“If you are interested in writing for one, call or send an e-mail to the executive director and introduce yourself,” she said.

Kim St. John-Stevenson, who has been a grant administrator and is a freelance grant writer, spoke on the mechanics of grant writing.

“No two grant applications will ever follow the same format,” she noted. She went over the excellent skills that journalists have to make the transition and “mind shift” into grant writing.

The question and answer session following their presentations zeroed in on where to get started (small nonprofits), how to get started (volunteer), and on what and how to charge (if it’s a small grant, by the project and if it’s a large one, by the hour).

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