Discover the Best Grant Writing Classes in NYC
Grants come up in many types of conversations, in particular, Pell Grants for college students and funding that goes to nonprofit organizations and innovative government programs.
But what is a grant, really? Who receives funding, and how do they get it?
There are multiple types of grants, but one of the primary grant funders, or institutions that provide the money for grants, is the government. This is one avenue the government supports community development projects, research, and strengthens the economy. To see a full list of what federal grants can support, look up the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).
Another way grants are commonly provided is through a private trust. These trusts are typically funded by a wealthy family or individual. A couple of examples of private trusts you may have heard of are the MacArthur Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Grants are not the same as loans because recipients don’t have to pay back the funds. Grant application writing is a complex and arduous process, though, and the funds are usually allocated to specific expenses listed in your proposal For instance, many grants can’t be used for personal and day-to-day living expenses because those don’t necessarily apply directly toward the project.
Grant proposals, or applications, have quite a few pieces. Each organization is a little different, but some common elements you’ll see most are:
- Cover letter
- Summary of the project
- Project objectives
- Description of the problem and how the project provides a solution
- Project methods
- Endorsement letters from community supporters
Each grantmaker has its own priorities, which you can usually glimpse in the application requirements. For example, one grant may require more description and context about the project while another might be focused much more on deliverables, timelines, and budgets. It’s extremely important for grant writers to pay attention to these details, as grants can be denied for not following instructions. So, whatever the application calls for, follow it to a “T.”
Grant funding usually occurs in three steps:
- Pre-award, when grant writers discover and apply for grants
- Award, when the grantmaker decides on who receives the money and informs them of their decision
- Post-award, when the business receives the money, proceeds with the project, and documents progress and successes
Documentation is critical for grant-funded projects, especially when the grantmaker has specified the money be used for specific expenses.
The people who write and submit the application materials are called grant writers. These creatives focus on researching available funds, applying for them, and hopefully receiving the funding. These processes are complex, and most nonprofits and other community organizations work with a designated grant writer - freelance or employees - to prepare their materials.
Having a four-year degree in a writing heavy subject like English is helpful for getting a grant writing job, but there are many grant writing classes you can take without having to earn a degree. There are also established credentials like becoming Grant Professional Certified (GPC) that could help you land work. One of the most important aspects of a grant writer’s career is their success with being awarded funds through their applications. Experience is key, so practicing what you learn is the best way to build a career in this line of work.
Why You Should Learn Grant Writing in NYC
Grant writing is a great skill no matter where you live. If you’re near New York City, though, there’s an exceptional opportunity to make a difference in the city. NYC is the most populous city in the United States, which means there’s a ton of diversity. It also means there’s more community need in many areas. If you learn grant writing, you could help the communities who need it most.
Because the city is huge, there are plenty of chances to practice your new grant writing skills. As you’re practicing, you’ll be able to positively impact your community and meet lots of new people from all walks of life.
On a practical note, there are many grant writing jobs available throughout the city. Nonprofits and other community organizations are often hiring specifically for grant writing positions. Some businesses, especially those who are small or just starting out, may prefer to work with a freelance grant writer. This is an ideal set up if you don’t want to switch careers or are still deciding because you can get practice without taking a full time job.
In-Person Grant Writing Classes & Schools in NYC
When you decide to learn any new skill, the number of choices may feel overwhelming at first. If you want to learn about grant writing but aren’t sure where to start, try looking at grant writing classes on CourseHorse. You can easily see what’s available in your area.
In New York City, there are many great options. York College CPE in Queens provides Effective Grant Writing to help you learn the basics of grant writing. From the components to the application process and even where to find funds, you’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.
If you’re a filmmaker, Documentary Grant Writing by DCTV in Manhattan might be a great place to learn how to get your next project funded. During class, you’ll explore funding sources that work with film projects, their grant proposal expectations, and where to look to find funders who align with your project. As you learn, you’ll be better able to describe your film and figure out what you need to do to advocate for it.
Made in NY Media Center by IFP offers Developing Your Doc: Find the Money & Prep Production in Brooklyn to help filmmakers with a step-by-step plan to secure funding. Instructors Stephanie Ching and Ellen Martinez are filmmakers who’ve been awarded grant funding for their projects, which makes them a great resource for asking questions when you’re in class. Some of the key topics they cover include budgeting, fundraising, pitching, and pre-production.
Virtual Grant Writing Classes & Schools
For those who prefer learning online, there are many online grant writing classes you can choose from. There are a few notable benefits when you learn online, too, including:
- Learning from the spaces you’re most comfortable in
- Ability to better control the distractions around you
- No lengthy commute - especially nice in and around NYC
- Larger number of specific class topics to pick from
With online classes, you’ll generally have to provide at least some of your own materials; however, grant writing usually doesn’t require many. There are also many instructors and schools who will send you what you need to participate in class, so you’ll want to make sure you know what’s included (if anything) when you sign up.
If you’re an artist, Grant Writing for Artists by the Los Angeles Center for Photography may be an ideal class to consider. Explore where to find funding, the proposal elements you’ll need to prepare, and an example of an artist’s grant proposal that’s been successful. During the course, you’ll also workshop things like your artist statement, project budget, and how to select the best samples to send with grant applications.
Successful grant writer Tracie Holder leads Grant Writing for Creatives: A Two-Part Workshop through NY Media Center by IFTG. This two-day intensive is sure to get your next creative grant proposal (or your first) off to a strong start. From learning how to see proposals through the funder’s eyes to avoiding common mistakes to learning how to infuse your artistic process with writing, the workshop will be a great learning experience for any creative who may need funding.
Business Writing Level 1: Two Day Intensive by the renowned Gotham Writers Workshop is a nice way to build your business writing skills. Key concepts like tone, writing structure, and creating a solid writing process will help you become a successful grant writer. All of the lessons apply to grant writing, especially learning to draft meaningful, cohesive writing in a professional tone. Clarity is key in all writing, especially grants and other business writing.
What to Learn After Grant Writing
If you’re ready to move on from grant writing, or need a break to digest all of the new information, there are several other areas you can grow in to make yourself more marketable for future employers.
Advanced Business Writing by Noble Desktop was designed to teach you how to format and use business documents on a regular basis such as schedules, proposals, contracts, and more. Through a four-step process, you’ll be able to write “any document for your business” and identify what your audience needs from you. If you decide to take this course, you’ll need to be proficient in business writing. Noble has an Effective Business Writing course that will help you prepare so you’re ready for this, more advanced class.
Grant writing isn’t all that creative, and there’s quite a bit of following instructions down to the letter. With this kind of skill set and writing technique, you could consider learning technical writing in a class like Technical Writing Introduction by Learning Tree International. Technical writers work on documents like white papers and manuals, which need high attention to detail in the same way as grant writing. During this class you’ll learn about what makes a technical document work, how to figure out what your audience needs, and how to use graphical tools effectively (like tables and diagrams).
On a bigger scale, Be Social Change offers a Future of Nonprofit Fundraising course for those who want to understand the foundation of fundraising and nonprofits. The instructor(s) will discuss the importance of donors, the newest fundraising technologies, and how to make a career in nonprofit fundraising and development. You’ll learn grant writing strategies, too, which makes it a great class to segue into if you’re interested in grant writing and the nonprofit sector.