In the market for a grant

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Erin Olson in Chile

St. Cloud State University students learning the art of grant writing have made their coursework pay off with cash for area organizations.

Students in the “Administering Public Policy” political science course are required to prepare a grant application on behalf of a governmental or non-profit entity of their choosing. Students are encouraged to follow their passion and seek out funding resources that fit.

Senior Erin Olson is among the students who’ve landed grants during the last eight years of the program. She wrote a proposal to help her hometown of Willmar develop a new downtown marketplace that reflects the area’s increasingly diverse population. She sought out grant resources, researched the project and collaborated with the director of the Willmar Area Multicultural Market to prepare the proposal that landed a $60,000 grant from a major financial foundation to bring the marketplace closer to reality.

The project was a natural for Olson, a triple major in Spanish education, Latin American studies and social studies education and an alumna of the SCSU study-abroad program in Chile. She said she was delighted at the thought of a marketplace where the community, which is populated by people who speak at least 20 different languages, can gather for multicultural events, shopping and dining.

Students at Cedar Manor Intermediate School, St. Louis Park, will also gain a new cultural perspective thanks to SCSU students. A grant proposal prepared by Travis Braunegal and Tim Hjelmstad led the Target Foundation to give the school $3,500 to bring in a Gahanian drummer as an artist in residence. Both Braunegal, Minnetonka, and Hjelmstad, Fargo, N.D., earned their degrees in elective studies in 2006. 

Troy Olson, Clearwater, turned his attention to health care problems encountered by immigrants and others who do not speak English as their first language. With his help, the Central Minnesota Healthcare Academy landed grants of $10,000 from the Initiative Foundation and $15,000 from the CentraCare Foundation so that training in using English as a second language can be included in certified nursing assistance training. The program helps nursing assistants work with patients who may have difficulty conversing in English and gives the immigrants opportunities to explore careers in health care. Olson, ’99 ’06, is completing a second master’s degree in economics with an emphasis on public and nonprofit institutions.

- Marge Proell

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