Professional Growth Through Oakwood Arts

Many of my previous posts have negatively reflected the overall chaos of this internship, however, this week I have realized how much experience I’ve gained over the course of my time here. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to adapt and grow with new challenges. Coming into this internship with no prior knowledge of grant-writing or any of the tasks involved with generating money for the organization felt like being thrown into deep water to learn how to swim.

Last week while at a baby-shower, I met with the executive director of ImPACT Virginia, a nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness around the issue of human trafficking. I found myself engrossed in a conversation with her about her sources of funding. When she told me that she had only been working with rich donors, and had yet to start looking into the grant-writing application process, I immediately started explaining resources she could use to secure grant funding for the future initiatives of the organization. I found myself describing the difference between capital and project-based grants, tricks to finding which grants were most likely to serve her organizations needs, and project ideas going forward to expand the capacity of her organization to help human trafficking survivors in Richmond. It wasn’t until after we had exchanged numbers and made promises to talk more soon that I realized how much I had learned about grants through my work at Oakwood Arts.

This revelation became even clearer this week when I managed my grant deadline solo for the first time. I succeeded in preparing our grant application to Dominion Energy ArtStars almost entirely by myself and I am fairly certain that we will receive $10,000 from them for our upcoming project.

All of this said, I am not sure if this is a reflection of good leadership on Shannon’s part or mine. My time has often felt undervalued and working at Oakwood has felt incredibly stressful, mostly because of the absence of guidance and support available to me in my position. But when all is said and done, I have no regrets about accepting this job, as it has allowed me to learn so much about nonprofit work for my future in this career field.