Professional Development

If you were to ask grant professionals how they arrived at their current position/role, most would laugh and relate a roundabout journey. Grant Professional is not at the top of the list of jobs to which children, youth, and teens aspire. Many of us find ourselves working as grant professionals by way of degrees in journalism, education, social work, and even the STEM fields. Through our various career paths in nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and social service agencies, grant professionals develop unique skills and have various areas of expertise and specialization that support our grantsmanship work. As a result, there are many professional certifications that benefit the grants profession. Certifications help uplift the profession by establishing a level of knowledge and ethical practices and acknowledging experience and expertise within an industry. Below is an overview of professional credentials related to the grants profession and the requirements for obtaining them.

“Will I see you at GrantSummit?” This year, for the first time, my answer was “Yes.” In early November 2023, I attended GrantSummit (formerly known as the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Annual Conference) in Kansas City, Missouri. This multi-day conference is the premier professional development event for grant professionals in the U.S. I have attended this conference before as a virtual attendee, but this year was my first experience traveling to the event. I have three key takeaways from my in-person experience:

Know Before You Go This year, GrantSummit is bringing all the grant pros to our hometown, Kansas City, Missouri! Assel Grant Services (AGS) is based here in the Heartland Chapter with staff spanning Kansas to Virginia and from Ohio down to Kentucky. If this is your first time in Kansas City, keep reading for insider tips on restaurants and things to see.

I was one of the lucky 10% of aspiring GPCs (Grant Professional Certified) to see the following words float across my screen: “This email is to notify you that your packet has been selected for audit.” Audits are best practice for credentialing organizations to uphold the integrity of the credential. No matter how ethical or diligent one is, being audited is always a bit nerve-wracking. I am sharing my experience to show you how to track documentation to be audit-ready. I will give a real-life example of undergoing an audit after submitting my initial eligibility packet and the things that I now do differently as a result.

Every February, the U.S. honors the cultural heritage, adversities, and African American leaders and movements that have shaped the nation. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history," History.com reports. As part of a series throughout Black History Month, Assel Grant Services will provide various resources on racial equity to help grant professionals become better equipped to guide their organizations towards more equitable services, find funding, and better articulate into grant proposals the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work their organizations are already doing. Topics include writing with an equity lens, resources for your toolbox, measuring progress, and funding opportunities. In this blog, we will dig deeper into the various resources available to help you build your own toolbox of racial equity assessments and information. These tools will enhance your DEI knowledge and how it relates to your organization and community served.

This time of year starts to get a little strange between projects wrapping up for the year, the time change I still have not adjusted to, and differing work schedules for holiday plans and using up vacation time. While some like to bank their paid time off to have a full holiday break (which is fully respectable), I like to use this quieter time to work on projects that get pushed to the side during busy seasons. Here are some ways I like to use downtime to my advantage.

Do you find yourself coming away from Grant Professionals Association (GPA) National Conference with new tips and tricks you want to explore or apply to your work? Did you attend a session that made you realize you wanted to know more about this topic? This morning, as I reflected on the past week, I found myself inspired by the knowledge and generosity shared in our professional community and a little lost as to what steps to take next. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year and ponder what you want out of the coming one. Let’s start with a general understanding of why professional development is more than a great trip to bourbon country, look at resources to help guide your path, and create tangible steps for you to grow with purpose in 2023.

As a first-time attendee at National Conference, I wanted to be a little more prepared than a booked flight and hotel reservation. It might be the grant professional in me, but I like to know what I’m walking into and have a plan. I talked with colleagues who have been to the conference a time or two and came up with some tips and advice to share to help you get the most out of our conference experience.

Taking the Grant Professional Certified (GPC) exam can be a scary thought for many. Bad memories of past standardized test experiences, fear of failure, not knowing where to start, or lack of time may be reasons that are holding you back from taking the GPC exam. Earlier this year, I was in your shoes, because I took the GPC exam in July 2022. Let me help turn the big scary beast-the GPC exam-into a nice friendly teddy bear, figuratively at least.

I have worked in grants development for 26 years (boy, time flies when you are having fun!). Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend my very first Grant Professionals Association (GPA) annual conference. Many would ask, “Really, you are just now attending the GPA conference after so many years in this business?” I am grateful to have joined the team at Assel Grant Services (AGS), where professional development and GPA involvement are high priorities. I started with AGS in late August, and one of my first assignments was to register for the GPA annual conference. There was no question about whether or not I would attend - it was a given that I would. And I am so glad I got this opportunity. It turns out, as I learned from the conference, you CAN teach a “seasoned” grant writer new tricks – tricks that will not only improve their work, but will shift their thinking, make them a better grant writer, and because of some of the topics that were presented, will just make them a better person overall.