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On The Road With GrantWatch

Friends of the Otisville School

Alison Miller

Secretary and Fundraising Co-Chair

A conversation between Alison Miller, the secretary and fundraising co-chair of Friends of the Otisville School, and Libby Hikind, the founder and CEO of

Libby: Hi, I am Libby Hikind, the founder and CEO of and here I am with Allison Miller.

So, your nonprofit really went a different way, and you went the better way. Because a lot of people come to GrantWatch and they are looking for those million-dollar grants, those $100,000 grants. And if you haven't really started and gotten some funding, nobody trusts you — right? Who are you? Why would we give you so much money?

Alison: That is absolutely true. I credit GrantWatch for being the reason that I learned to write grants and the reason we received two six-figure grants within the last 18 months.

Libby: I am looking into your building, which is under renovation. And I know we are not allowed to go in at this point, because it might be dangerous for us. So, what is this entrance going to be? The main entrance of the building?

Alison: So, this will be the main entrance to our building. And on our first floor, we expect to have meeting rooms, community rooms, a small fitness room, or a fitness center. Also, the showpiece of our first floor is our gymnasium, and that was one of the projects that we received a bigger grant for last year.

Libby: Oh, great. I love sports programs that really get the kids off the streets into a facility, learning a lot. So, how does the old school community center relate to the prison that is in this area?

Alison: So, we do have two prisons in this area, both state and federal. They both are certainly great contributors to our economy. But we really expect to have a partnership continuing education courses for some of the corrections officers that might be held here. And also, there is a librarian who works there who may help us put a library on the third floor of this building.

Libby: I am so proud of you and your successes. Everybody that uses Grantwatch wants to know the tips that a nonprofit or grant writer has that they could follow through on with grants. So, what are your tips?

Alison: My tips are definitely to not overlook those small grants and to tell the story of your organization. Those organizations that are giving grant money want to know who you are and what you are going to do to give back. They want to know the story. When I was first contacted about this interview, I thought for sure it would be a phone interview or a virtual interview. I was thrilled to actually meet Libby from GrantWatch in person.

Libby: Well, we try to really come out and make that connection with the nonprofits that are benefiting from the website. It makes me feel so great to know that the work I am doing is really making a difference.

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