Monday, February 3, 2020

Tremble Clefs Grant

I remember receiving an email from Parkinson’s Foundation (PF) regarding a program they were offering to award community grants up to $25,000 to organizations that had direct impact on the PD community.  I immediately thought about how much we could use this money for our TC group. I also knew this would interest the CA groups in San Diego and Orange County with which we have a “working relationship”.

I contacted the two CA groups and learned that they were already working on proposals, so I forwarded the information to Jim and Sun Joo and asked if we had someone in our group with grant writing experience.  They were keen on the possibility of a grant, but said we didn’t have anyone with experience in this area. Jim asked if I would be willing to do it. Though I had never written one, I had some experience with them from my consulting days.  I told Jim I would give it a try.
I read through the application and started to work on it.  I remember debating about how much to ask for (anything up to $25,000).  As I reviewed the guidelines that talked about what they were looking for, I realized that our chances of getting approved would be much higher if we could come up with a plan that involved incremental benefit to the PD community in the Phoenix area (beyond what we were currently doing).  At the same time, I thought it was important for them to know that we are completely self-funded and that a lot of work (by our group members) goes into making ends meet on a yearly basis. All this without the support or encouragement of a regional support organization, which in our case is Parkinson Network of Arizona (PNA).  Due to the nature of this relationship, we had recently applied for and received 501c3 non-profit status. This turned out to be a good thing as it was one of the application requirements.
I thought it might be a good idea to estimate the potential demand for PD services such as TC by looking at PwPs (people with PD) as a % of the national population and applying that % to the population of Maricopa County. That showed that, even with the growth of our existing groups, there were MANY potential new members.  I also cited the growth we have been experiencing year over year in our existing Sun City group and that our resources were “stretched to the limit”.
After meeting with Sun Joo and Jim, we decided to propose a plan to add a second Sun City group.  I also remembered Sun Joo talking about a group that wanted to “come on board” in the Chandler area.  So the combination of this proposal for two new groups in the context of what was already being accomplished faced with a variety of challenges became the focus of the application for a $25,000 grant.
Another factor that I was hoping would help was the already-existing significant working relationship I had with PF and previously with PDF (they had merged the previous year).  I really don’t think this affected the outcome, but they did “cut me some slack” after the proposal had been submitted by asking for additional information and clarification.
In the end, I was able to respond to these requests as a result of the hard work and cooperation of members of our group.  I think it was in April that I received word that our proposal had been approved for $20,000. They explained that they were unable to fund the full request due to the volume of worth applications they received. While there was no guarantee of ongoing support, it was clear that they like what we are doing and implied that the support could be ongoing assuming we live up to our end of the agreement (do what we said we are going to do).  The first $10,000 check has been received. The next step will be to provide a progress report in October.
Another important part of the context for this proposal was a detailed description of the benefit of participating in TC to our members including the inspiration, community, support, strengthening of our voices, multi-faceted therapy provided by Sun Joo and, most of all, the joy that singing brings to our lives.  With that in mind, I shared with PF a vision of TC becoming a national program and my opinion that they are uniquely capable of helping make this happen!
So far, so good…………..


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