Grants Help SFSC Expand its Reach
What would South Florida State College be like without its adult education, Panther Youth Partners, or Student Support Services TRiO programs?
“We would still be a quality educational institution, but there would be a large part of our community whose needs we weren’t meeting,” said Lindsay Lynch, director, Grants Development.
SFSC is able to offer these and other programs and services to its students and the community through the use of grants. A grant is funding from an outside agency for a specific purpose or project. They can come from federal agencies, state agencies, and private foundations. “Grants allow us to work on specific projects and activities that wouldn’t be possible using state funds or other sources of revenue we have,” Lynch said.
To find grants, Lynch and Manuel Cortazal, grants development specialist, use a variety of methods including monitoring listservs through daily emails and subscribing to periodicals that list available grants. Occasionally, faculty members will also notify them of grants. They then try to match the current needs of the college with the grants they find. “We expect the need first,” Cortazal said. “Sometimes an opportunity for a grant will become available, and if it’s something that will benefit the college, we will go for it, but we prefer to have the project identified first. It assures that we have enough time to apply.”
Once a need is identified and the grant is located, the grants office works with the department the grant is intended for as well as the business office to develop a concept, budget, and proposal. Then, once it has been approved by administration, the proposal is submitted. “It usually takes between eight weeks to a year before we hear back,” Lynch said. “Because it is such a labor extensive process, we try to focus on larger grants with more long-term gain.”
In 2010-11, SFSC submitted 33 proposals for grant projects, and 31 were funded. “Occasionally, we apply for equipment grants, but most grants we apply for are for direct expenses related to personnel, programs, activities or projects,” Lynch said.
The Florida Farmworkers Jobs and Education Program, adult education, workforce development, Panther Youth Partners, the Children’s Dental Program, the Bridge Program, tobacco cessation, Student Support Services TRiO, the College Reach Out Program (CROP), the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and financial literacy are all grant-funded projects and programs.
“In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the college received $7,330, 328 from federal grants and $896,056 from state grants,” said Anita Kovacs, controller. “These grants went to support various college programs, but there are also financial aid grants, which go directly to the students. In total, the college secured a total of $11.2 million in grants.”
Grants are not just solely intended for service programs. “They also are how state and federal agencies encourage and fund innovation, science, and technology,” Lynch said. “They encourage the college to think out of the box.”
In September, SFSC received notification that it had been approved for a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to begin a bioenergy education program. “It will fund two degree programs – biomass technology and biomass cultivation,” Lynch said. “We will be the only school in the country that offers a biomass cultivation degree, and we will have a field to grow the biomass so that students will have hands on experience. NSF grants are typically awarded to research universities, so this is a major accomplishment for a community college. ”
The EMS and nursing simulation labs, which use human-like patient simulators to train EMS and nursing students, and SFSC MOFAC’s Wildflower Wayside Shrine, which combines art with science to offer its visitors the opportunity to view endangered plants that are only found in the scrub habitat, are two other innovative projects that were funded by grants.
“These are the types of projects and programs that help the college standout and attract the various types of students we serve,” Kovacs said. “Without grants, the college wouldn’t be financially able to offer many of the services it does, and it is these services that make us South Florida State College.”