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Mini-Grant Review

The SCRA Mini-Grants: Aiming Globally to Catalyze Local Impact

Introduction

    Since 2011, the SCRA Mini-Grants program has supported and helped catalyze over 40 small-scale, time-sensitive community interventions that SCRA members (and their community partners) are implementing in their communities around the world. Although many of the funded projects have been implemented in communities throughout the United States, a growing number of funded projects are being implemented in other countries such as Peru, Egypt, Jamaica, Rwanda and Canada, and Tuvalu.

    As the Mini-Grants program continues to grow, it remains important to aim globally in our efforts to encourage international SCRA members to apply for the awards as well as serve as reviewers. Our efforts to promote global representation within the Mini-Grants program, we believe, is critical to fulfilling SCRA’s vision for a strong, global impact on enhancing well-being and promoting social justice for all people—in all communities.

    In the upcoming issues of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, we will include three articles that focus on

  1. describing the importance of international engagement,
  2. highlighting the perspectives of past grantees who have implemented their work in countries around the world and/or implemented work relevant to international communities, and
  3. spotlighting international members of the Mini-Grants reviewer team and their experiences.

The aim of this first article is to emphasize the importance and impact of engaging international SCRA members in various aspects of the Mini-Grants program.

 

Reflections from Mini-Grants Leadership Team on International Engagement

    One major goal of the Mini-Grants leadership team is to ensure that SCRA members (and their community partners) are aware of the funds that are available to them to implement meaningful work in their communities. Over the years, we have recognized that finding ways not only to raise awareness of this funding opportunity, but also to use the Mini-Grants to actively engage  international members is key to helping SCRA fulfill its vision of global impact. To date, about 18% of all incoming applications have been submitted by international members. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the trends in international applications has certainly been on the rise (a more in-depth discussion about these trends will be included in the next issue).

    In addition to promoting the visibility of the program, members of the leadership team must coordinate incoming applications and manage current grantees. This provides a unique opportunity to learn about the work of other students, faculty, and practitioners from countries all over the world. Accordingly, leadership team members were asked to reflect on their thoughts about the importance of having a global focus, and on their experiences recruiting and engaging international members. Their reflections are as follows:

“By far, my favorite part of coordinating the SCRA Mini-Grant program was getting to know a diverse set of applicants and grantees, their work and communities.  In my mind, the mini-grants, which directly funds work of Community Psychologists across the globe, is one of the most visible ways that SCRA fulfills its vision of global impact.  While the grantees may be few in number, the seed money that they provide has enabled some really great work.  That’s why it’s important to continue engaging international reviewers, and applicants in the mini-grant process”.—S. Johnson-Hakim (United States)

“Seeing the incoming application submissions from around the world is a surreal experience, because I have the chance to witness the goals and missions of our organization come to fruition.  The Mini-Grant program is applying the SCRA mission and is achieving global impact.  Reading the international applications broadens my perspectives of communities around the world.  By funding these projects we are not only increasing visibility of SCRA worldwide, but it gives SCRA a chance to make a difference globally”.—J. A. Douglas (United States)

"The SCRA Mini-Grants program plays such a critical role in engaging members from all over the world. Not only are members able to secure funding for collaborative small-yet impactful projects, others are able to witness the variety of work being done. I've had quite an enriching experience co-coordinating the program; and as an early career person I find it extremely helpful to read about others' work. It also helps me to keep international partners in mind for future exchange of ideas and collaboration. As global citizens, the Mini-Grants program, I think, really keeps all of us around the world doing great work in communities connected. I certainly look forward to increased recruitment of the mini-grants on the international scale.”—K.K. Brown (United States)

 

Reflections from Mini-Grants Reviewers on International Projects

    The SCRA Mini-Grants program currently has over 25 volunteer reviewers who are responsible for blindly reviewing incoming applications. All reviewers complete a training and participate in biannual teleconference calls. The ability to engage with reviewers over the internet has been an important tool because the Mini-Grants reviewer team consists of students, faculty and practitioners who reside in countries from all around the world. In an effort to build on the sense of community within the Mini-Grants, we will be facilitating meet-and-greets to give team members the opportunity to engage with other members who may reside in different parts of the world.

    The reviewers have the opportunity to read over various (blind) project proposals over the course of a grant year. To understand their perspectives, we asked reviewers--past and present--to reflect on their experiences reviewing international projects and how these experiences have impacted them personally and professionally.  Overall, reviewers mentioned increased feelings of empathy, increased knowledge of current research being conducted within the organization, and reviewers enjoyed the opportunity to provide critical input that strengthens and improves grant proposals. Their reflections are as follows:

“Reviewing the mini-grants has been very rewarding.  It is very encouraging to see such thoughtful interventions.  I have been particularly impressed with the number of applications that first, have sought and already received a commitment for some financial assistance from other organizations and secondly, that have obviously successfully partnered with either nonprofits with similar interests or even government agencies.  This has given me substantial confidence in the merits of most of the proposals and satisfaction that SCRA funds are being applied often in cases which otherwise may not come to fruition.  I believe SCRA is enabling interventions and projects which in many cases would never have happened.  Also, given the opportunity to make suggestions to the applicants, in the review comments, with explanation or justification, allows me some sense of contribution that perhaps my review efforts have contributed in some small way to the intervention”.—Anonymous (United States)

 “Quite a few of the grants that I review give me ideas and inspire my work. The biggest take-away from the mini-grant applications is the importance of community involvement in framing the problem, developing solutions and the implementation of programs”.—V. Francisco (United States)

“I get to know what kind of projects SCRA is funding. I respect what SCRA does and share about it with others.”—R. Nanda (India)

“The Mini Grant Program gives me the opportunity to see what other programs and research is going on and make a fair and objective judgment about the efficacy of that program/research and if it meets the criteria for funding”.—Anonymous (United States)

“I have reviewed grants for programs inside the US for immigrant communities from outside the US, but no programs based outside of the US. For those having to do with immigrant communities, I feel as though reading about the unique challenges they face has broadened my understanding of the different ways we all try to make a living. Everyone just wants a life that sustains and uplifts them; a life that is better for their children than it was for themselves. The more I hear the stories that reflect that truth, the better able I am to check my expectations and judgments and really be present for the people I interact with daily.  Also, I think the mini-grant program provides a way to see more broadly the ways in which community psychologists reach out to the worlds in which they work. It offers me the opportunity to see the mission of SCRA writ large in the activities of others and to remind me of why the organization exists”.—N. Freund (United States)

 

Conclusions

    In essence, the Mini-Grants program plays an important role in engaging international members within SCRA by providing funding opportunities. Moreover, based on the team reflections, the Mini-Grants program provides a valuable opportunity for students and professionals to gain and raise awareness about community psychology work in countries around the world. The Mini-Grants program is also valuable because it serves as a catalyst for meaningful community projects implemented by internationally-based community psychologists.

    As mentioned earlier, the Mini-Grants program receives applications from over a dozen different countries (i.e. Iceland, Peru, Bulgaria, Italy, Puerto Rico, etc.). As the program enters its fourth year, it will be important to continue to encourage international members to apply for funding. It will also be important to continue to engage international student and professional members to serve as grant reviewers, which is promotes global perspectives in community psychology practice. In conclusion, the Mini-Grants program is committed to aiming globally to help catalyze small scale, time-sensitive interventions which serve to benefit communities all around the world.

*The SCRA Mini-Grants is administered by the SCRA Community Psychology Practice Council and supported by the SCRA Executive Committee.


Author

Kyrah K. Brown, PhD and Jasmine A. Douglas, MA Kyrah K. Brown, PhD and Jasmine A. Douglas, MA


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