Seasoned writers put polish on grants

First-time writers can add too much detail

As Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center in Atlanta began to serve more and more Hispanic patients, the need for an interpreter and materials written in Spanish became apparent. Yet there was no money in the budget to fund such projects.

"We called a lot of translation companies to get estimates, and it was as high as 35 cents per word plus the cost of the typesetting," says Ana Soler, CI, medical interpreter and translator at the medical center.

That’s when Soler was drafted to write a grant application for funding from the Georgia Indigent Care Trust Fund. Each year the state makes monies available through the fund for projects that benefit Medicaid patients. Many departments at the hospital apply for funding from this agency, so Soler was able to discuss her idea with colleagues who had been successful in previous years to determine if her plan was on target.

The most difficult part of the process was writing the grant, says Soler. "I read all the books I could get my hands on about how to write a grant and how to even start," she says. Even so, she made many mistakes. She included information that was not relevant to the grant, such as details on the Hispanic community at large. Also, she wrote too much detail on how the translated teaching sheets would be appropriate and beneficial to the hospital.

Lucky for Soler, the grant had to be reviewed by staff in the institution’s development department and financial department before it was submitted. As a result, the five-page grant was edited to a single page by the seasoned grant writers.

"They said that if the grant review panel found too much detail they might not read it all. The panel just wants to see the facts. The most important thing you can do is show the grant source how the hospital or institution will save money through the grant," says Soler.

The hospital received $45,000 to fund Soler’s position as an interpreter and translator for Medicaid patients in the outpatient areas. The grant also allowed the hospital to contract out writing some of the materials for translation and to fund a parenting program for Spanish-speaking patients.