UC Students Making Real Impact, Write Now

With a student impact of ~20,000 students, over 200 programs and partnerships, and a geographical impact radius that spans across the Greater Cincinnati area, ABC does the mighty work of a big organization. And yet, ABC does not have the resources of many of its peers that have similar impact footprints. With a staff of only 48 employees, most of which are spread across our service locations; only 11% of expenses going towards management and administrative functions, like marketing, accounting, and human resources; and only 1% of total expenses feeding fundraising efforts, ABC is considered an incredibly lean organization. While there is so much opportunity to serve even more students in Cincinnati, ABC has to keep growing internally to keep up.

This is where strategic partnerships with allies across the city are incredibly important, such as the grant writing partnership with the University of Cincinnati’s Sport Administration graduate program. Thanks to the leadership and innovative thinking of the program’s leader, Dr. David Kelley, both these graduate students and ABC (and similar nonprofits) benefit from seasonal fundraising support.

The cornerstone of this collaboration is the practical experience provided to the graduate students in grant writing. Understanding the crucial role of funding in sustaining and expanding programs is an integral part of the students’ education, and this partnership affords them the opportunity to delve into the intricate world of grant writing under the mentorship of experienced professionals. “First, my students are afforded the opportunity to learn how to articulate grant proposal goals, justify funding needs, create a budget and present their ideas effectively all in the context of addressing societal issues such as food insecurity or perhaps basic sport uniform or sporting equipment needs,” Dr. Kelley articulated. “Second, by collaborating with Activities Beyond the Classroom, my students apply the knowledge they’re learning in class to real-world scenarios.  Thirdly, the skills acquired during grant writing, such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration, are transferrable to various contexts.  Last and certainly not least, in my opinion, grant writing is a “game-changer” in that it enhances students’ competitiveness in the job market. Many schools and athletic organizations actively seek employees who can secure external funding.”

Beyond the academic and professional benefits, this collaboration fosters a sense of empathy and solidarity among the graduate students. As they witness firsthand the impact of their efforts on the lives of students served by ABC, they are inspired to continue advocating for educational equity and inclusion. “I was very excited to hear that I was assigned to collaborate with Activities Beyond the Classroom,” Jarred Jermacans, graduate student and team leader, shared. “I am new to the Cincinnati area and have read and heard a lot about the work of Activities Beyond the Classroom, which is admirable to me.” Jermacans is one of several students that have also leveraged this opportunity to demonstrate their skills to ABC leadership through this project and submit their resume to be held on file in case of future job openings. 

From ABC’s perspective, the partnership brings fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to its fundraising efforts. The enthusiasm and dedication of the graduate students inject new energy into its initiatives, helping to reach new milestones and expand its reach. “Since ABC does so much work in the community, the grant opportunities can feel endless,” Carmen Lawrence-Bille, Senior Manager of Grants and Foundations, shared. “This partnership alleviates some of the workload relevant to our athletics programs, which is a huge relief as this is one of our biggest fundraising efforts throughout the year!”

Moreover, the partnership strengthens ABC’s ties with the academic community, paving the way for future collaborations and knowledge sharing, as well as opening a pipeline of talent. “ABC has an excellent employee retention rate, but we’re also growing really fast. We’ll hit an event horizon soon that will accelerate our program reach and we’ll invariably be hiring to accommodate that growth,” shared Director of Operations Sophia Scott. “This partnership with the University of Cincinnati gives us access to excellent talent in athletics management. So whether these students are considering careers as athletic directors or fall in love with grant writing, we want to know them.”

Together, Activities Beyond the Classroom and University of Cincinnati’s Sport Administration  program are not just addressing the immediate needs of students but also laying the foundation for a brighter and more inclusive future. Through their collaborative efforts, they are empowering students to realize their full potential, regardless of their background or circumstances. As they continue to work hand in hand, they are not just writing grants; they are writing a story of hope, opportunity, and transformative change.

Thank you to the University of Cincinnati, the Sport Administration department, and Dr. David Kelley for making this collaboration possible!