UF Student Wins Grant Written in Writing for Non-Profits Course
Alexis Ulseth, a sophomore at UF, has won a $400 grant for Noah’s Endeavor, the local nonprofit for which she volunteers. Ulseth, a biochemistry major who is pursuing a Disabilities in Society minor, was first introduced to Noah’s Endeavor when she volunteered for Friends For Life last spring.
At Noah’s Endeavor, “most of the children have a disability or are connected to a child with a disability,” Ulseth says. The children come together each week and play a sport, “but it’s not about the sport, it’s about activity, friendship, and fun.”
Her interest in Noah’s Endeavor deepened when she took Exceptional People, a course at UF requiring volunteer hours. Then, in Fall 2016, Ulseth took ENC3254, Melissa Mellon’s “Writing for Non-Profits” course. One of the assignments was to write a grant proposal for a non-profit and Ulseth rose to the challenge. In the end, she won a grant from the Finish Line Youth Foundation, which Noah’s Endeavor will use to purchase new sports equipment and expand the organization’s community presence.
“Writing for Non-Profits” was first offered at UF through the University Writing Program (UWP) in Fall 2016. The goal of the course was to bridge the gap between academic writing and real-world writing. Thus, Ms. Mellon encouraged her students to pick a non-profit to work with and write assignments which could serve the organization’s needs. The assignments included a special interest report, a grant proposal, and a white paper, and students were required to interview representatives of their chosen non-profit for each assignment.
For the grant proposal, students met librarian Bess de Farber, who is the UF library’s grants manager. Through the library’s internal grant-seeking program, which Ms. De Farber set up, students were able to search for grants relevant to their chosen non-profit organizations. It was through this resource and with Ms. Mellon’s guidance that Ulseth was able to find the Finish Line Youth Foundation grant. Ulseth completed the grant application in October 2016 and in January Finish Line contacted her to conduct a telephone interview. In February, Ulseth was told she had won the funding.
Ulseth grew up in Crystal River, FL, where she still volunteers at the Rotary Club. When she came to UF, she brought her love of volunteering with her and joined Rotaract, Impact Autism, Friends for Life, and Noah’s Endeavor.
Noah’s Endeavor, originally named the Endeavor League, provides a place where children with disabilities can get involved with sports and feel part of a community. Shelly Voelker, a Family and Information Specialist at UF, and her husband, Will Voelker, took their son Noah there. Noah was born with cerebral palsy and spent his life in a wheel chair. But, at Endeavor League, Noah was able to swim, play soccer, baseball, and basketball, and interact with other children of varying ages. When Noah passed away in 2009, the Voelkers took over the Endeavor League and changed the name to Noah’s Endeavor.
Ulseth says the goal of Noah’s Endeavor is to help people realize “that a child with a disability is first and foremost a child.” Ulseth volunteers on Sundays from 2:00-4:00pm and spends her time playing sports (baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall) with the children and making sure that they are having fun.
Here is a video Ulseth made to thank the Finish Line Youth Foundation for the grant and to showcase the invaluable work done at Noah’s Endeavor.