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Academy educates participants about external grant process

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Grants Academy, held May 6-9, gave participants an overview of the external grant process.

External grants can provide exactly the kind of funding faculty and staff members need to implement their research and teaching goals.

But the application and execution processes can be intimidating. That's where the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Grants & Contracts Administration (GCA) office comes in with various services to help.

A prime example is Grants Academy, held for the fifth time from May 6-9. For two days on the Dahlonega Campus and two days on the Gainesville Campus, the GCA staff helped 24 faculty and staff learn the ins and outs of the process from how to draft grant proposals to post-award administration and compliance.

"Our goal is to increase the grant activity here at UNG, to get more faculty and staff engaged in the process, be excited about trying to find external funding for their research and their projects they want to do," said Chris Jackson, grants specialist at UNG. "The main part of Grants Academy on our end is to let people know we're here to help. A lot of people don't know the resources available to them."

As part of the four-day program, UNG faculty members who have been highly successful in securing grants shared their approach with academy participants. One was Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He sees the academy as further evidence of the momentum at UNG.

"The support structure is robust. The aspirations of our faculty and staff are high — and with good reason. We've not just been seeking outside funding; we've been succeeding and in impressive ways," Jespersen said. "The culture of the institution has changed, and you can see it in many different ways: from the grants faculty and staff are winning to the nationally competitive scholarships our students are winning. It's an exciting time to be at UNG."

Dr. Ramneet Kaur, lecturer of biology at UNG, previously had a post-doc grant with the Department of Defense. She has secured a grant from UNG's Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) for her research on possible triple negative breast cancer treatments and a UNG Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) into Action grant to develop new labs for a cell biology course.

Now she is interested in applying for an external grant to aid her UNG research.

Kaur said the academy's step-by-step process would help her have most of a grant proposal written by the end of the week.

"I'm learning so much," Kaur said. "It's an eye-opening experience."

Yolanda Carr, director of grants and contracts for UNG, and Jackson said the academy experience will inspire faculty and staff to pursue grants or help them understand the process even if they may not be quite ready. The detailed approach is important, Carr said.

"It's always good for individuals to know the whole process from beginning to end," she said.

Ken Harrison, associate director of Recreational Sports at UNG, said his department recently received a $30,000 donation from Wayne Farms LLC for equipment in the Fitness Center on UNG's Gainesville Campus. That inspired him to learn more ways to seek external funds for his department's aims.

Harrison wants to find accessibility or veterans groups who would like to financially support UNG's recreation initiatives aimed at those with accessible needs. He was grateful to glean ideas from Grants Academy.

"It's really well-run," Harrison said. "I like that they bring in a bunch of different speakers with experience from different areas of the university."

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