General advice from your fellow Ambassadors (Class of 2015):
Start early in identifying organizations with which you would like to work.
Communicate with the Foundation and ask questions.
Be specific in your grant application about how the organization will spend the grant money.
Know your organization- get involved with them on a personal level, if possible.
Sara Thompson's (Class of 2015 Ambassador) advice:
"As someone who always feels drawn to help in my community but experiences significant social anxiety, finding a way to volunteer in my new home of Tucson, Arizona, has been challenging. I've lived here for 13 years, but most of my interactions have been personal in nature; I hadn't yet found a way to be active in any non-profits when Mr. Ascienzo reached out to me and asked me to be an ambassador for the Ascienzo Family Foundation. Because the structure of the grant request was was simple and there were templates for reference, it made it easier for me to know what to talk about when I met with the grant writer and program coordinator at Youth on Their Own in 2015. Using the templates as well as reaching out to the Board of Directors helped expedite the process, as they could answer any questions and help make sure the required paperwork, follow-up, and submissions were completed correctly. Helping to facilitate receipt of a grant that can actually make a difference in the lives of my fellow Tucsonans by providing assistance for homeless youth is a unique gift. I would highly recommend reaching out for assistance with any questions, and don't be afraid to tell the point-of-contact at the charity, "Let me get back to you on that" if they have any questions you don't feel comfortable answering. Other than that, I suggest answering the Board of Directors' questions in a timely fashion so they can help you to the fullest of their abilities."
Brittany Mosher's (Class of 2015 Ambassador) advice:
"When I was named an AFF Ambassador, I immediately knew that I wanted to work with HABIC [Human-Animal Bond in Colorado] to write a grant. I contacted HABIC’s director, Georgia Granger, and we sat down together so that I could give her some history and details about the potential funding (she now desperately wants to meet Mr. A). It was a great feeling to ask Georgia, “If you had $5000 of extra funding this year, how would you use it?” Georgia did not answer that she needed a new computer, travel money for volunteers, or any material object. She said that she would use the money to provide scholarships for HABIC services to schools that could not afford the program fees on their own. These low-income schools, she told me, are often the ones with the most children in need of our help.
After looking at the mock applications available on the foundation website, we began to draft our own application. The template made it very easy to see exactly the information that was required, and Sophie Laing (one of the Board of Directors members) was kind enough to answer any questions that came up along the way. We wrote a short description of the organization, with some personal information from me about what I feel the value of our programs is. We specified how many schools we could assist with the amount of funds we requested (and we were actually encouraged to increase the amount requested to the full $5000 if we thought we could use it!), and came up with a list of items that we could provide at the end-of-the year to show the foundation how the funds were used.
I can offer two pieces of advice for new ambassadors working on their first grants.
First is to encourage both you and your organization liaison to dream big. Funding opportunities like this one are often few and far between, and one of the best parts of this grant is the flexibility. If there are high-risk and high- reward endeavors or pilot projects that haven’t gotten off the ground, let’s put things in motion! The second piece of advice is to reach out to your AFF liaison early and often. They are here to help, and know how to make this process run smoothly. Congratulations, and enjoy sharing this wonderful gift with the world."
Megan Sanger's (Class of 2015 Ambassador) advice:
"When learning that I would get to advocate for a certain group and receive funding for them through the Ascienzo Family Foundation, the Oakwood Friends School SAM camp was one of my first thoughts. This camp's desire to spark interest in the sciences among middle school aged girls is something that I find very important as a math teacher and someone who has always had interest in the sciences. I thought that by trying to get a few additional supplies and scholarships for girls who could not otherwise afford the camp I could address both the education and poverty targets of the foundation.
Going through the process of writing the grant was easy to do thanks to samples that the foundation provided for the other ambassadors and myself. Not only did the foundation readily accept my proposal, but they actually suggested that I ask for more money for the camp! This was very rewarding to hear and the head of the camp, Lacey Fredericks, was thrilled with the news that we had indeed gotten the grant.
I kept in touch with Lacey the whole time, making sure that she knew I was available for help if ever she needed it. When it came down to the actual week of the camp, I had an unforeseen issue arise that did not allow me to attend the camp and interact with the girls. However, after getting in touch with Lacey immediately following SAM camp's completion I was able to learn that the implementation of the scholarships and supplies was a huge success! It was also awesome to see all of the photographs that Lacey had shared of the girls' experiences, knowing that I had a small part in the positive experience that those campers had!"