Two weeks into his summer job as a grant researcher and writer for the City of Prince Rupert, 21-year-old Blair Mirau is almost ready to put a call out for well-developed project proposals.
The University of Winnipeg student has been hired through a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust to help seek available funding and develop an application form that will help people write compelling proposals.
Already he’s heard great ideas coming from the community and is hoping to help give some of those ideas some traction.
“If someone can give me a good budget and a good activity schedule then they are well on their way to getting some funding,” Mirau said at City Hall on Wednesday.
Along with other representatives from various groups and organizations in the community, Mirau attended a free grant writing workshop facilitated by NDIT in Prince Rupert last week.
Describing the workshop as a refresher, that built on the proposal writing he’s been doing through his International Development degree program at the U of W, Mirau said there was one thing in particular the facilitators said that keeps running through his brain.
“The best thing I heard was for people to ask themselves what the funder is getting out of it. To think of why funders would want to fund you and what is it about your project that falls under their mandate,” he recalled.
The facilitators also pointed at Mirau and said if he could leverage $100,000 in funding then the $10,000 invested in hiring him would garner a ten-fold return.
“That’s what I’m working towards,” he added with a smile.
His studies at U of W have mainly focused on social and regional planning, with a big emphasis on participatory local development. He’s also specifically looked at policy development around government funding priorities.
“Whether governments are deciding to put money into homelessness, law enforcement or emergency shelters has a lot to do with policy development” he said.
In Prince Rupert, however, he’s not dabbling in policy development. His main mission is figuring out how best to effectively help groups garner funding.
“I’m quickly learning that it’s about having no authority, but having the power to facilitate. That’s been the biggest struggle so far,” Mirau said.
In addition to working for the City, Mirau is filling a practicum requirement by volunteering eight hours a week with Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest.
At the end of the summer he will return to school to complete his program by December and then hopes to do an internship with Canadian International Development Association.
“They’ve developed three or four really good programs meant for students right out of their undergraduate degrees to do one year with them in various placements,” he said.
When asked if he’s noticed anything different now that he’s back in Prince Rupert for the summer, Mirau mentioned the number of empty store windows on Third Avenue.
“It’s more vacated and less vibrant than I remember, but the place is as beautiful as ever. That’s always what Prince Rupert will have going for it, it’s so green here,” he commented.