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Grants Academy preps faculty and staff to pursue support

To help faculty and staff secure financial support for their projects and initiatives, the University of North Georgia (UNG) recently held the second Grants Academy, which provides support for faculty and staff interested in writing grants in pursuit of external funding.

UNG's grants-based external funding, which has totaled approximately $12 million over the past five years, is a reflection of the university's commitment to its mission as a Carnegie Engaged institution, which promotes service-learning and community partnerships and the many ways they can enhance the educational experience.

"The Grants Academy provides UNG faculty and staff with two important opportunities. First, it provides a better understanding of the process used to secure external funding in support of our mission as an engaged university. Second, it establishes a community of scholars who can work with each other in exploring opportunities for collaborative research and engagement with their colleagues," said Dr. Andy Novobilski, UNG's associate provost for research and engagement and chief research officer.

Two dozen employees took the opportunity to learn how to best approach and market themselves to federal, state and other financial sources with an interest in higher education.

"Given the impact of the past year's Grants Academy on this year's submissions (a 50 percent increase in dollars requested), adding another cohort of 25 to the previous year's cohort of 24 continues to grow UNG's potential for writing winning proposals," Novobilski said.

Mariana Stone, director of UNG's Language Labs, attended the academy in hopes of learning how she can garner support for two initiatives. For one of them, she is collaborating with Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters.

"For my first project, I am seeking to promote relations between the U.S. and Cuba with a grant through the Cuban Embassy that would allow an exchange of baseball players between UNG and Cuba," Stone said. "Sports are a great way to build common ground. For my second project, I want to approach the National Science Foundation for help in updating our language lab technology so that we can bring more languages to UNG's smaller campuses. Our Dahlonega Campus labs supports 10 languages, and the Gainesville Campus lab supports six — all of the other campuses only support Spanish at this time."

Stone said learning about support she can enlist within UNG and learning about the grant writing process provided her with a very good picture of how to move forward. She said it was also useful to network with other faculty and staff who will be going through the same processes.

Dr. Robert Fuller, professor of geosciences, is looking to secure funding for research into water quality of local river systems.

"This project is a direct result of my sabbatical canoe-based research project," Fuller said. "I went to the Grants Academy looking for ideas on approaching federal agencies about this project, which I got, but I also learned a great deal about effective communication with project officers at potential funding sources." 

Based on the success of the previous year's academy, and the potential for exciting work from this year's cohort, the Office of Research and Engagement is already in the process of planning for the 2017 Grants Academy.

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