I was introduced to Foundation Communities through the SERVE Austin program at St. Edward’s University at the beginning of last year. I served as a volunteer for the afterschool program at Sierra Vista. I’ve always loved working with kids, but Foundation Communities just did things differently. Their programming touched on all aspects of the children’s wellbeing. They were allowed time for physical activity, received plenty of academic support, and were simply given a safe space to share anything their hearts desired. Every child was genuinely cared for and was clearly happy to be there.
Unfortunately, my time as a volunteer was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news is, my time with Foundation Communities wasn’t done yet. One of my former professors, Beth Eakman, connected me with Julie Candoli, Director of Institutional Giving at FC, and Anne Chamberlain, their Senior Grant Writer. After a few media hurdles, I applied and received the position as the Grant Writing Intern.
During my year with FC, I learned about various programs across the organization and wrote several one-pagers for the grants team to refer back to when composing their proposals. I also got the opportunity to work on three separate grant proposals for FC’s education programming. I enjoyed working on every assignment I was given and was able to not only learn more about Foundation Communities, but also about how nonprofits work.
My favorite thing about working with FC this past year was learning about ethical storytelling. As a student journalist, I had baseline knowledge about ethical reporting and knowing how to serve your specific audience, but my supervisor, Anne Chamberlain, showed me that there was much more to it. Ethical storytelling is about listening to the voice of the people the organization is serving and inviting collaboration. It’s also about understanding the importance of transparency, and of sharing diverse perspectives. Ethical storytelling is an invaluable skill that I will carry with me in all of my future endeavors, whether it be writing a play or reporting on local news.
Before my internship at FC, I never fully considered grant writing as a career choice. After this past year, I don’t think I want to stray too far from the grant writing world after falling in love with it.
I plan to continue working with nonprofits and now have the skills necessary to help amazing organizations continue their important work.- Sammy Jo Cienfuegos