DePaul Grant Writing Partnership: Autumn 2021

Build Your Nonprofit’s Capacity for Grant Seeking and Grant Writing

If your nonprofit would benefit from grant-writing support, consider joining a service-learning partnership offered by Professor Lisa Dush of DePaul University.

This partnership will connect your organization with a team of graduate students in Prof. Dush’s Grant and Proposal Writing course, which draws students from DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse and Graduate Certificate in Strategic Writing and Advancement for Nonprofits. Over approximately ten weeks, the student team will develop materials that your organization can use in its grant-seeking efforts.

Go directly to the Partnership Interest Form.

Is Our Organization Right for this Partnership?

Over the years, the course has partnered with a broad range of organizations, in terms of mission and budget. The most successful partnerships—those that yield funded proposals—are typically with organizations that have an active strategic plan, ideas for new programs or ways to expand existing programs, outcomes data, and a sustainable resource model without grants. It is also helpful if an organization has done some grant- or LOI-writing in the past, even if unsuccessfully so. The partnership is often very productive when an organization is ready and eager to send out LOIs or proposals, but needs some short-term assistance to focus their efforts.

What Will Our Organization Get From this Partnership?

Your team of 2-3 students, with your input, will complete tasks such as the following:

  • Research the Foundation Directory Online to identify foundations that are appropriate funders for your organization.
  • Start or update a spreadsheet for tracking grant opportunities and deadlines.
  • Write template or actual Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) to potential funders.
  • Write a template grant proposal, to be adapted for a range of funders, or write an actual proposal to an identified funder.
  • Write or update key components of grant proposals, including leadership and Board Member profiles and program summaries.
  • Gather and synthesize current facts, statistics, and stories that can argue for need in grant proposals.

You will work with Prof. Dush and your student team to identify those deliverables most useful to your organization.

What is the Personnel and Time Commitment?

Partner organizations typically assign 1-3 people to the partnership, who are familiar with the organization’s strategic priorities, fundraising methods, and grant-seeking history. In past years, participants have included development staff, EDs, and board members.

Organizations should plan to devote an average of 1-3 hours per week to the partnership, from September–November. In addition to the list of activities below, we ask that, if feasible, you host members of your student team at least once at your organization, to better understand the work you do.

Key dates for participating organizations are as follows:

  • By F August 13: Priority date to submit a Partnership Interest Form.
  • Before W August 25: have a 1-hour phone or Zoom interview with Prof. Dush about your organization’s current grant-seeking practices and your priorities for the partnership.
  • Th Sept. 23, 6–8:00 pm: Attend a meeting (on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus or through Zoom) with Prof. Dush’s class, to meet student team and discuss project priorities and plan of work.
  • F Sept. 24–Th Nov. 18: Connect weekly with your student team to respond to their questions and requests for information. Twice during the term—in mid-October and early November—you and Prof. Dush will offer joint formative feedback on the team’s draft documents.

How Do We Sign Up?

If your organization is interested in this partnership, please contact Prof. Lisa Dush at or simply complete the Partnership Interest Form. Prof. Dush schedules interviews based primarily on the information submitted on these forms, with a goal to invite grant-ready partner organizations that collectively represent a range of missions, budgets, and service areas. Typically, more interest forms are submitted than the course can accommodate.

Additional details about past nonprofit partnership courses are available online at