Submitting Proposals for Grant Funding

My project will be to prepare a proposal in response to the Ivy Center’s Request for Proposal issued in February 2018. The center, located in Huntsville, funds one-year projects/ programs focusing on education, health, science, technology, cultural awareness, and/or economics for disadvantaged youth and their families.

The funds requested will be on behalf of another local non-profit organization, Operation Making a Difference (OPMAD), a Huntsville-based program that mentors at-risk youth. As general operations are a basic necessity, the request will be tailored toward the expenses required to provide general services.  Donors will give money to meet their needs and interests, not yours.  The name of the game is to find a good marriage. 

To do so, you have to do front end analyses. You want to research foundations’ patterns of giving, geographical restrictions, and areas of interest.

Four Top Reasons Proposals Do Not Get Funded

  • Funding source does not believe you understand the problem
  • Funding source does not believe in your solution
  • Funding source does not believe in your qualifications
  • Funding source does not believe or trust your budget

 

Youth centers are often in underserved neighborhoods with the goal of helping keep children busy and off the streets after school. However, youth centers also serve a wide variety of communities and come in many different iterations. One thing they share is that they are nonprofit organizations in need of grants for support.

Youth centers need money to support their programs and pay their staff unless they use a volunteer staff. As nonprofits, they are considered tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) as public charities because they are formed to provide a public benefit. Youth centers often rely on grants for support, and they seek money from many diverse sources.

If you are running a youth center or if you oversee finding funding, it is important to understand how to put together a grant proposal. Here are the key elements of a standard grant proposal:

  1. Proposal Summary: Sometimes called the Executive Summary, this paragraph should explain your entire proposal in a nutshell and specifically state the amount of funding you need.
    2. Description and History of Your Organization: This should include who you are, what you do and where you do it.
    3. Background or Statement of the Problem: This explains what the problem is that will be solved by getting this grant. You make clear why your program is more important than other programs.
    4. Project Description: This can vary in length and should be a detailed description of the program you intend to create with this grant money.
    5. Project and Budget Timeline: This is a chronological list of what needs to happen and how the funding will facilitate each step.
    6. Budget: Break the project down into categories such as salaries, supplies, equipment, etc., and list the amounts that will be allocated to each category.

Once your proposal is written, reviewed and edited to perfection, you are ready to send it off and apply for a grant. Because there are so many worthy programs in need of funding, it’s smart to apply for as many grants as you can. Cover all your bases to make sure you can fund your youth center and its programs.

A Guidebook for Planning a Trip to Disney World

For many people, planning a vacation is a simple task that requires little more than a date and a destination. I know many people who at the spur of the moment decide to head to the beach for an impromptu vacation. They have a wonderful time at their vacation spot and plan no further than the day ahead about food or activities.
When planning a Disney World Vacation, one can still have this laid-back approach to the trip and still have a great time but with just some extra planning a great vacation can turn into a magical one. There are so many things to see and do at the Disney Parks that it can be nearly impossible to accomplish them all in one trip. Having a plan for a Disney Vacation maximizes your time and efficiency in the parks. Also, front loading your planning before you arrive in Orlando allows you to be more in the moment with your family and loved ones you are vacationing with. With a plan, you can ensure that your time is well spent. This is especially important considering the cost of most Disney trips.
My project for EH 603 – Technical Editing will be a guidebook on how to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It will cover why having a plan is crucial to your trip and ways to maximize your activities and meals. The information that I plan to include will be a guide of things to consider when you are planning your trip as well as a tracker on how to maximize your day in the park. It is easy to be overstimulated and distracted while meandering around the different lands and pavilions. Knowing how you are going to spend the day will keep you from wandering aimlessly. It will also keep you from wasting lunch and snack credits that you prepay for in your package. The excel sheet that I use as tracker includes scheduled meal and ride reservations as well as a place to list everyone in your party’s must-do activities or shows. There is a listing for snacks and extended park hours. I spent a lot of time planning for my family’s first trip to Disney two years ago. I did not have a spreadsheet then and we spent some of our vacation that could have been dedicated to memory making, wandering around not sure of what to do. We got home and realized that we missed some of the activities that we didn’t want to miss. We also did not spend out snack credits wisely and ended up bringing home bags full of Mickey shaped rice Krispy treats. I most definitely would have rather had a churro in the park!
I often say that I am a cautionary tale of what happens when parents don’t take their kids to Disney. I did not get the hype of why grown people got so excited about going to Disney World until I took my own kids two years ago. I have discovered the magic of Disney as an adult. Part of it, I believe, is that I can fully immerse myself in the planning of the vacation at least 180 days prior to check-in. It is more than a spur of the moment vacation and I enjoy the freedom of being with my family at the parks and not having to make all the decisions for a spell. The plans have already been made and it is magical just to be in the moment with my favorite people. I am writing this paper because I want to share that with others who are traveling to Disney with their favorite people too.

An Interview-Based Study on Writing Instruction in Engineering Programs

For the fulfillment of Project 3 in EH-603: Editing for Publication, I plan to complete and edit the proposal for my master’s thesis, which will near its completion at the end of the Spring semester of 2018. The thesis will be completed and defended by the end of Fall 2018.

My thesis will examine the current state of engineering student writing skills in modern institutions, focusing specifically on the College of Engineering and its undergraduate programs at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Through interview-based research, I aim to take an inventory of the types of writing assignments engineers at UAH receive and how they would characterize their writing assignments, both in terms of how much they enjoy the assignments and whether they perceive them as practical to their respective careers. The research will be structured in the form of individual oral interviews with students in the Electrical, Computer, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Chemical Engineering programs, a survey of the UAH engineering course catalog, and examination of individual course syllabi. The objective is to gather as much information as possible on any writing-intensive courses and assignments. I will also describe research-grounded solutions to the existing challenges with attempting to integrate writing into engineering curricula and point to areas where more research is needed to address the unanswered questions and problems that persist. Ultimately, I aim to report on the implementation of writing activities in required courses other than freshman composition and suggest avenues for additional research on the value of the writing integration.

My thesis will be structured as a report on a research study, in which I will have chapters dedicated to an introduction, a literature review, the methodology, and one or several chapters on my findings and the discussion of them. The proposal will offer a brief overview of the of writing instruction in engineering programs, the experiences that led to my interest in the problem, and the research questions I aim to answer through my research. The current problem that I will examine is rooted in the fact that engineering instructors often rely too heavily on introductory college writing courses to prepare their students’ for the amount and the varieties of writing each particular discipline demands. Thus, introductory college writing instructors are often faced with the task of integrating strategies and rhetoric specific to various discourse communities in their general composition courses. The difficulty with integrating writing in the disciplines into one writing course is the diversity of disciplines that exist in modern institutions. A freshman level college writing course at UAH might see a rough average of 33% engineering, 18% science, 15% each of business and nursing, and less than 10% humanities students (“Facts and Figures”). The disproportionately high percentage of engineering students is not unusual in most STEM-intensive institutions. Moreover, engineering students do not represent one broad category; each group of engineering students may represent several distinctive concentrations within the principal discipline. At UAH, for example, approximately 30% of engineering students select Mechanical Engineering as their concentration, 20% select Aeronautical, and 14% select Electrical Engineering; the remainder represent an amalgamation of Chemical, Industrial Systems, and Optical Engineering (“Headcount Enrollment”).

While research on the theory behind WAC/WID pedagogy suggests promising results in terms of bridging the gap between the humanities and the sciences, there is still plenty of room for additional research on its practical applications. ABET has taken enormous strides in furthering the value of communication and rhetoric by encouraging STEM programs to integrate more communication skills and collaborative learning environments in their curricula. Kristin Walker, among many other WAC/WID advocates, indicates that “such integration is necessary in order to prepare students to work successfully in a global, diversified workplace” (369). This perspective is not unique to writing instructors, as engineering faculty tends to agree that the cultivation of writing skills is extremely important to tailoring professional engineers (Zhu 34).

Epistemic Theories and the Evolving Structure of Technical Communication

I’m taking the opportunity presented by my final project for EH 603 and using it to expand on some of the idea’s contained in blog post that I made for my personal website and make it suitable for submission to Intercom, the Society for Technical Communication’s magazine. My blog post, Structure and Assumptions in Technical Communications and Philosophy, was written after thinking about a technical writer’s job responsibilities for a previous class’s assignment. It occurred to me that one of the main responsibilities of a technical communications professional is to properly structure information for use by the intended audience. Contemplating how to properly structure information brought to my mind some epistemological theories I studied while completing my undergraduate degree in philosophy. For those that don’t know, epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and justification of knowledge. I will focus on how epistemological theories about the structure of knowledge can be applied to structuring user guides and manuals. I think that linear structured user guides can be analogous to a foundationalist theory of justification and coherence theory can be analogous to the modern online help experience without a linear construction.

In the original blog post I also discussed using a philosophic understanding of assumptions to better understand the audiences for technical writing. I’m going to drop this part to focus exclusively on structure because I’d rather not try to split my attention between what I feel could be two separate articles. I think that this could wind up shortchanging each topic and wind up with an article that doesn’t cover structure or assumptions in as much depth as I would like.

In order to rewrite and expand my original blog post into a format suitable for Intercom I read a number of Intercom articles and examined the author guidelines page. My original post was only around 600 words and according to the guidelines page my target length should be around 2000 words. The longer length will require more depth when discussing epistemological theories. I will also need to be cognizant that my intended audience consists of technical communications professionals, so philosophical jargon and terminology will need to be avoided.

Exploring the analogy between the structures of knowledge and user help will require citing some sources to fully expand upon the epistemological theories. I believe that the most difficult part will be accurately summarizing the epistemic theories in order to use them as a lens to better understand structuring information as a technical communicator. I want to use publicly available sources for the article so that the reader can view anything I cite without worrying about finding access to sources that are behind a paywall. I will use the Stanford’s online dictionary of philosophy for general reference. I’ll be referencing to Ernest Sosa’s paper “The Raft and the Pyramid: Coherence Versus Foundations in the Theory of Knowledge” which is publicly available online. If I require more sources I will make sure that the they can be accessed easily by the public by finding them through use of the google scholar function.

I hope to use this article to show how philosophical theories can be used to better understand other subjects such as technical communication. In this way the article can function as an example of how philosophy can be used practically. I hope to combat the popular misconception of philosophy as esoteric and practically useless. I think that philosophy can function as a strong base for those looking to enter into technical communication field.   

-Christopher Matthys

Works Cited

“Author Guidelines.” Intercom, https://www.stc.org/intercom/author-guidelines/ Accesed 1 April 2018

Matthys, Christopher. “Structure and Assumptions in Technical Communications and Philosophy.” 22 October 2017, https://www.variousinterests.net/blog/2017/10/20/75qgzve7klenw4t4jwjmat2iqerzc7

 Zalta, Edward N. ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/index.html

EH 603 P3 – Raising Awareness for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

 

I. Introduction 

Have you ever watched Bob Ross paint his forests and mountain scenes and all of a sudden felt tingly shivers begin in your scalp and run down your spine? If you have, you probably have ASMR. Watching Bob Ross paint his happy little trees may be the oldest known example of how ASMR has gone from something personal (I thought it was just me) to something rapidly becoming globally recognized.

                                                                                                    

Bob Ross

 

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a previously unstudied sensory phenomenon that is characterized as a relaxing, tingling sensation that begins at the scalp and travels through the arms, down the spine and legs triggered by audio and visual stimuli. Triggers may include audio and visual stimuli such as plastic crinkling, flipping pages of a magazine, and most popular, whispering.  People who experience ASMR claim that it greatly reduces insomnia, mild depression, and chronic pain without the need for costly and potentially harmful medication. Others who experience ASMR use its benefits to help them focus on problem-solving tasks that require high concentration. 

ASMRtists such as GentleWhispering (Maria), WhispersRed (Emma), and EphemeralRift upload ASMR videos to their Youtube channel several times a week. GentleWhispering, for example, has gathered over 1 million subscribers dedicated to listening and watching her perform tasks such as folding towels, cooking, and roleplaying as a travel agent or librarian. ASMRtists, such as Maria, have earned millions of dollars a year and have turned creating ASMR videos into a full-time career.

                                                   

WhispersRed (Emma) gently brushes her microphone.

While ASMR has not been clinically studied, there have been a few university studies using both controlled and uncontrolled groups. The studies aim to better understand ASMR through a scientific and medicinal perspective by considering what ASMR does to the body physically and neurologically.

                                                                                               

EphemeralRift
 

Other ASMR studies are less scientific and focus more on the critical perspective. For example, one peer reviewed article covers the feminist view by studying the intimacy created by the female voice. Another article, in particular, speaks of the new aesthetics of video media. Other articles cover the definition of ASMR and compare it to the opposite of misophonia, a mental condition in which certain sounds produces in the hearer anger and anxiety. Or, most interestingly, a type of synesthesia, the sensory phenomenon defined as the stimulation of one area of the brain which produces automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive neural pathway, i.e. visual or auditory stimuli creating an automatic, involuntary, corporeal reaction.

II. Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this report is to gather information and raise awareness surrounding ASMR through various scientific, medicinal, and critical perspectives. The likelihood that someone has experienced ASMR in his or her lifetime is highly likely, but without exposure of the ASMR phenomenon, many people with this unusual condition would never know that real scientific studies and critical perspectives are on the rise. Furthermore, increased awareness will allow the benefits of ASMR to possibly replace potentially harmful and addictive anxiety, sleep, and pain medication.

III. Resources

If you are interested in learning more about ASMR, or would like to know how people are discovering ASMR, please visit:

Gentle Whispering ASMR at Youtube

ASMR University at  ASMR BLOG

 

But, chances are simply typing “ASMR” into Google will get you the best results!