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Behind the Curtain

Let OPDI Help You Secure More Funding!
By Susan McGreevy-Nichols
Posted on 2/5/2018 3:52 PM

Through the Online Professional Development Institute (OPDI), NDEO aims to provide high quality continuing education courses that meet the variety of needs faced by dance education professionals. Many courses deal with dance content, teaching methods, and assessments as these are areas that directly affect student success in the classroom or studio. Of course, dance education professionals can benefit from training in related areas as well, especially if they are the owner of a studio, the chair of a department, or the director of a program. Courses like OPDI M5: Writing Successful Dance Dance Funding Proposals help dance educators develop additional skills needed to complement their work in the studio.

Fundraising is a critically important area in dance education, but many dance teachers feel that they lack the skills and training needed to fundraise efficiently and effectively. Securing funding through donations and grants from private foundations, corporate entities, and local and state governments is one way to raise the money needed maintain and grow a dance program or to host a special event such as a concert. Writing a proposal for such funding can seem a daunting task; however, as the proposal process itself can be complex and the selection process is often quite competitive. Still, dance educators who persist in their efforts to secure grants and other funding streams can often reap large and lasting rewards. Dr. Jane Bonbright, instructor of OPDI M5 and Founder and former Executive Director of the National Dance Education Organization, explains:

“For dance educators and administrators, (a grant) sometimes fulfills a dream and creates unlimited opportunities yet to come. Truly, that's what happened when I received, on behalf of NDEO, the US Department of Education grant for $673,000 to develop and deliver the Research in Dance Education project (2002-2004) -- now known as the Dance Education Literature and Research descriptive index (DELRdi). Look at it on the NDEO website. It continues thriving to this day, having more than tripled now in size from 2004 to 2018. That's the kind of result funders' want to see. That's the kind of grant we teach people to write. Generic grant writing classes don't have that capability.”

Proposal writing is a skill, and one that can be refined through training and practice. OPDI  M5: Writing Successful Dance Funding Proposals is a comprehensive course that develops understanding of the basic sections required in a funding proposal, encourages reflection on one’s own funding needs to develop the content in the funding proposal, and culminates in the drafting of a funding request. Students can bring grant opportunities that they feel would be a good fit for their funding needs, and work toward completing the proposal in class so that it is ready for submission. Otherwise, real-life grants will be used as samples, and students can sharpen their skills on a sample application so that they are ready to craft a perfect proposal when the right funding opportunity comes along. In either case, students are developing practical skills that can have immediate, real-world application, one which can make a tremendous difference for your program and ultimately, your students. Bonbright explains,

“Most dance educators and administrators know how exceedingly difficult it is to operate dance programs on existing budgets. All of us in dance need extra funds to start, maintain, and grow dance programs. In support of these needs, there are millions of dollars available at local, state, and national levels from foundations and state/federal agencies that MUST be given away. The catch is: grants are highly competitive. Thus, the course teaches how to articulate and support each subsection of the grant proposal (from statement of need through budget to closing argument) so you produce a well-conceived, powerful and compelling grant. The course ques students us in on 'red flags' to avoid. Many students of the course have gone on to apply for funding opportunities, and have been successful. Dance educators and administrators have the ability to make change. Why let those funds, that have to be dispersed, go elsewhere?”

As a 6 week course, OPDI M5: Writing Successful Dance Funding Proposals is an ideal introduction to online learning for those who might not be sure if the online format is right for them. Course modules are presented weekly, and assignments can be worked on at your leisure throughout the week. There are no set times to log on for required lectures or discussion. Feedback is provided on an individual basis, ensuring that students get the support needed for personal success. Despite the relatively short run time, the course is designed to produce results. A student in a past section writes, “For a short course, I felt it was well organized and laid out. Instructions were clear and Jane provided timely feedback that allowed for revisions as needed and deepened my understanding of the grant writing process.”

Dr. Jane Bonbright, who designed and instructs the course, dedicated fifty-five years to the field of dance specializing in performance, education, research, administration, and dance/arts advocacy at national and state levels. The depth and breadth of her experience, including fundraising and grant writing, make her uniquely qualified to guide students through the process of securing funding specifically for dance education.

What makes this course different from other grant writing classes, according to Dr. Bonbright, is that “the instructor and students only focus on dance, and we have decades of experience in private and public education and performance. Other courses are generic and know little about the dance field so they are poor advisers regarding the grant's content, needs, methodology, outcomes, and measurements for success.”  Because of Dr. Bonbright’s expertise in many aspects of the field, she is in able to advise the grant writer on each required section of a grant: statement of need, project description, budget, organization's accomplishments, conclusion, and executive summary as they apply specifically to dance and dance education funding.

“It is fun, exciting, and highly profitable when one learns the ropes, “ adds Dr. Bonbright. “You need passion to build a case; knowledge to support and present a case; and action to do what you proposed for the good of others. It's hard to lose with passion, authenticity, and a cause greater than one's self.”

Dr. Bonbright presents her knowledge of dance education funding in a way that is personal, engaging each student and encouraging them to reach their fullest potential as funding proposal writers. As a student in a previous section of the course describes, “Dr. Bonbright gave very insightful reviews of my work, the critiques were very precise and I feel that my skills improved tremendously. When I did the final editing and looked back at my early attempts I can definitely see my improved understanding and writing ability.”

Whether you are a university professor seeking funding for a new course, a K-12 teacher raising money for concert supplies, director of community program seeking operating funds, or a private studio teacher implementing a scholarship program, this course will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to write a more effective funding proposal. The deadline to register and pay for the course is February 8th, and enrollment is limited. The course may fill before the deadline, so act now to secure your spot! More information on applying to the OPDI program and registering for the course can be found at
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