A SPA Grant Story

By Thomas Nolan

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Backstory: For the last year of my service, más o menos, I have focused much of my attention on Fundación Futuros Valores, a home for abandoned, abused, and neglected boys between the ages of four and twenty-three. The majority of the boys struggle with emotional stability and are educated within the foundation by a single professor, my counterpart, Vidal. Despite major age differences, he is responsible for teaching one conglomerate class with about thirty children, the majority of whom need close attention. Vidal is my Colombian hero because he created and runs this awesome program. Over the past several months, Vidal and I worked on various programs together, but finally the main need became apparent: resources. Through several brainstorming sessions with the foundation’s team, ideas blossomed into a complete resource center with books and technology.

SPA Grant Timeline: I started the application process in February 2015, and received the money in late June 2015. I will most likely finish my project before I COS, but other PCVs have had to extend to see their projects through. I wish I had started the project earlier, but based on a Colombian calendar and the date on which we received the Project Management and Leadership Training, this wasn’t possible.

Madrina/Padrino: Any PCV who applies for a SPA Grant will be assigned a madrina/padrino, a PC Staff member who helps the PCV through the entire process. Neireda was my wonderful madrina. I owe her many thanks.

Grant Writing: I never before have had any experience in writing grants, and this proved to be a very difficult task. PCVs are given the space of 250 words to summarize the grant. This is very challenging, especially because Washington has no context in which to read the grant. For example, I had to describe the foundation, its relationship with Instituto Colombiano Bienestar Familiar (ICBF), what ICBF is, why they needed a resource center, and how the project could sustain itself.Thomas_Spa_2

SPA Grant Committee: As of right now, the Spa Grant Committee is composed of Nira, Oscar, Eder, and Nereida. They are responsible for editing proposals. Based on each committee member’s very different background, unanimity, at times, felt impossible. Also, committee members have their real jobs. However, after much prolonged scrutiny, we finally found wording and a well-designed grant application that Washington liked. Note: Eder was helpful in answering questions.

Aftermath: The project is going great, and the recommendations that the committee and Jonathan provided did help us immensely. We still have quite a bit of work to do to finish all evaluation and ensure that the resource center will be able to maintain itself. Though the process has been long and difficult, and to put it very costeño, in the end, vale la pena.

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