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For the past year I have written blog articles for several clients.  I have been a ghostwriter for a marketing firm in Colorado, having written articles about retirement living for two clients.  I have also written about retirement living for an online news magazine, Examiner.com. In addition, I have created and maintained websites for non-profits and a personal site for myself.

In addition to blog articles, I have researched and applied for grants, reviewed grants that have been written for federal and state agencies, and developed marketing brochures.

This is a busy time of the year for some non-profits as they close out the end of one year and gear up for the next.  Managing year-end reports can be tricky as fiscal years close at various times throughout the year. If you have local, state, and federal grants, your fiscal years could end in June, September, or depending on the local grant, anytime in between. It becomes a challenge to manage all the details in addition to everything else on a Directors plate.  It is best practice to hire or contract with a grant manager, development director, or someone whose sole purpose is to research, apply for, maintain records, provide updates, and write the reports for grants received.

For more information, please contact me at bberndt56@gmail.com

I mentioned in an earlier post that on paper it looked as if I spent several years hopping from one job to the next.  In fact, I have spent most of my career working for grant projects. Organizations accept grant funding as seed money to create innovative ways to get the job done, try new ideas, market the program, and measure its success with less financial risk to the organization/company. In each of my positions, the work began under one grant, used the information from the data collected, and expanded the work to the next related project. Collaboration, relationship building, leadership, team building, negotiation, program development, training and presentations, customer service, budgeting and management are all skills necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the various positions. I held project management positions.

Hopefully the timeline below will provide helpful information about how one job led to another:

1996 – Began working for the Illinois Emotional/Behavioral Disability Network (EBD Network) to provide support to other families, link resources to schools and communities, and assist with data collection.  The EBD Network was a grant project:

  •  Funded through the Illinois State Board of Education with federal flow through money from the US Office of Special Education Programs
  • Used to provide advocacy, education, and support to parents of children with disabilities and measure the success of the activities.
  • Money for the EBD Network grant was seed money to be used to create innovative ways to help families with emotional problems across Illinois.

1998 – Collaborated with the Huntley Consolidated School District #158 to create a new position that provided education and support to parents who had difficulty accessing special education and mental health programs for their children. As a result:

  • Huntley School District #158 was identified throughout the US as a leader in developing a Parent Resource Coordinator project
  • The District received funding  and technical assistance from the EBD Network to support the development of new programs
  • The goal was for the district to find the funding to continue the position after 3 years.

2001 – Accepted the position of Assistant Director for the Illinois Federation of Families (IFF), a non-profit that was created with federal and state tax dollars to advocate, educate, and support families who had children with emotional and behavioral disabilities. It is important to note:

  • IFF was initially funded through a System of Care grant with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), seed money to jump-start a non-profit.
  • The expectation was that when the grant ended, the non-profit would succeed because of the connections it made in communities, schools, and with families across the state.
  • For years, IFF programs were funded through contracts with the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois State Board of Education, SAMHSA, donor campaigns and fundraisers to implement projects specific to each funding agent.

2005 – McHenry County Mental Health Board received a 9 million dollar System of Care grant from SAMHSA.  Illinois was experiencing astronomical budget deficits and programs for mental health and education received drastic cuts across the board, including IFF. In order to continue the work I was doing:

  • McHenry County hired me to work directly for the grant project to develop a non-profit similar to the Illinois Federation of Families
  • The training and advocacy I would have been providing through IFF for McHenry County, was now coming from another grant because IFF’s funding had decreased by 50%.

2008 – I founded Families ETC, became the first Executive Director, with a start-up budget of 57,000.

2009 – Families ETC Executive Director

  • In April of 2009, Families ETC received a partnership agreement with the McHenry County Mental Health Board for $289,000 to provide programming and evaluation assistance.

2011 – My contract ended, the Executive Director position was eliminated, and I became a freelance writer and “independent student”.

Currently

I am an independent grant writer and blogger.  My focus is on meeting the needs ofschools, non-profits, and underserved communities in rural areas. My background in mental health brings an added level of understanding to health and wellness programming.

My approach to creating success for organizations is based on innovative thinking, relationships, and building collaborations. My role with the organizations I work with varies to include grant writing, configuring, content writing, and managing social media sites like Facebook and Blogs, and program consultation. I hope to expand on newly emerging skills in web design and social media marketing campaigns in the near future.

I am currently working with a marketing firm in Colorado writing blog articles for Retirement Community clients.

I also write grants and small proposals for schools and non-profit agencies such as the National Volunteer Caregiver Network.

My belief is that the more time you can devote to promoting the work you do while writing grants and having fundraisers, the greater the chances for success will be for those who need the resources. Dedicating one person to lead a development team is an important step in the right direction. Finding the money to pay that person without using grant funds is the challenge most non-profit directors face.

It can be done however, and all it takes is a creative approach to staffing and budgeting.

For the past 20 years I have been employed through non-profits, or worked as an independent contractor as part of a grant.  What that means is, at the end of a funding cycle, which could have been 1 year or 3 years, my job either changed or was eliminated, depending on the needs that funders chose to meet.

While updating my resume a few months ago, I noticed that my work history, written in black and white, without the opportunity for explanation, suggested I did a lot of job hopping because I was not happy where I was.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth! I started to wonder how that must look to a potential employer, especially one who is not familiar with the way non-profit work is funded.

Such is the reason for this blog. I enjoy a good challenge and get bored when I am not working in a position that requires constantly adapting to change.  I think that is why I stayed in the non-profit sector for as long as I did. It was stressful not knowing how long I would be with one employer no matter how hard I worked, or how many hours I invested, but I loved the challenges.

On these pages, I will post information about each job I held, but unlike a traditional resume, I am starting at the very beginning of my career, with how it all began, and the steps I took to where I am now.

Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for visiting!  I have created a site to hold my professional resume and talk about my work experiences over the past 30 years.  It is a portfolio that highlights my skills and accomplishments as a way of providing more information while keeping my resume short and reader friendly.  I am hoping you will forward my blog to others and it will reach more people and find an employer who is the best fit for my next career.

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