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Grants are the Building Blocks to Strengthen Our Foundation and Enrich the Future of SMWC

Blog | 04.17.2024

This story appeared in the 2023-24 Annual Report issue of Onyx Anneau.

By Elizabeth Reel ’21, content marketing manager

$2.2 Million

SMWC received a total of $2,262,133 in grant funds in 2023-2024.

Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) grant was awarded to assist with the historic preservation of the Conservatory of Music.
Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded a grant to enable SMWC to enhance the Science of Reading within the Education Department and teacher preparation program.
SMWC received a planning grant through Lilly Endowment Inc’s College and Community Collaboration (CCC) Initiative, and submitted a $30 million proposal on February 29, 2024.
The USDA awarded a grant to SMWC to establish a Master of Science in Equine Studies, the first to be offered in Indiana.
SMWC received a grant from the Sisters of Charity to establish the Student Success Center on the second floor of Rooney Center.
A Hulman Family grant was awarded a grant to assist in the development of an equine breeding program to support pre-veterinary curriculum.
The Sisters of Providence Foley Legacy Fund provided a grant to fund the addition of an ADA all-gender bathroom installed in the Conservatory of Music.
Mental Health America of Indiana provided funds through a mental health grant for the Healthy Minds Survey to be conducted with SMWC students, faculty and staff.
SMWC Campus Ministries received a grant from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis that funded the Alternative Spring Break mission trip.

Sarah Wurtz Secures Funding for College as Grant Writer

The world of grants can be daunting to some, but for Sarah Wurtz, MA, grant writer and development specialist, it’s a matter of ultimately impacting Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) students and their experience. Wurtz joined SMWC in July of 2023.

“I’ve been in higher education for almost 20 years in a lot of different roles within the industry, ranging from admissions to financial aid to advancement and the registrar’s office. I feel that I’ve gotten a good grasp on not only my skillset but also the institution’s needs. It was a way for me to bring all of my experience together and put it into one project where I work with several different areas at the College,” Wurtz said.

Studies show that in the last fiscal year, undergraduate colleges received over $170 million in grants. Wurtz shared how critical grants are to private institutions, like SMWC, in comparison to public institutions that receive state funding. Grant funding is available from government entities like the Department of Education as well as other sources such as foundations and non-profit charities.

Sarah Wurtz, MA

Grants provide very targeted, restricted resources that allow SMWC to go beyond daily operations and enhance the student experience more than tuition will allow. In just the last decade, SMWC has secured more than $17.7 million in grant funds.

“I think that grants really give us the opportunity to think outside the box. When we think of grants, we may think of one big grant for a specific program. However, its really about how to meet needs that are outside of the day-to-day operational expenses. In our environment, we are highly dependent on tuition revenue, and of course, that can’t cover all of our needs – especially to be innovative,” Wurtz said.

To give more insight into her search process of finding grants for The Woods, Wurtz shared that it’s all about project management with the combination of breaking language down from the grant applications and multi-tasking. “I’m rarely working on one grant at a time. I also work with a lot of faculty on grant projects. It really is like a puzzle where you need to find the right pieces to answer the questions of ‘What is it that they’re looking for?’ and ‘What can we actually do with this?’, and then from there, I will pull in the faculty I’m working with so they can get the substantive narrative to what we’re trying to accomplish with the grant – whether it’s programming or another project,” she explained.

Wurtz shared that another part of her search process is maintaining the communication and relationships needed with the organizations that fund many grants the College seeks. “A major factor with grant writing is realizing that behind these grant applications are people that you can have conversations with. It’s important to contact these organizations to make sure that SMWC might be a good fit for applying for a grant and to also ask questions to make sure we have a handle on what we’re applying for. I’m a life-long learner, and one of the unique things about grant writing is that you learn a lot about different topics that you may not know much about, so it’s really fun for me,” Wurtz concluded.


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