Jacob McGuire is working with Partners in Knowledge as part of his International Public Service Project. McGuire, who recently completed his first year at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, is developing and implementing the burgeoning organization’s grant strategy.
“I came to the Clinton School because I wanted to learn ways of better serving people, not just in the United States, but also abroad,” McGuire said.
Partners in Knowledge is a Little Rock-based nonprofit organization with a focus on Haiti, a Caribbean country that is home to more than 11 million people, but is one of the most impoverished countries in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to economic issues that include contracting GDP and currency depreciation, Haiti suffers from a severe lack of human capital. More than 80% of Haiti’s college graduates leave the country. Nearly half of Haiti’s GDP comes from money sent home from Haitians living abroad.
The goal of Partners in Knowledge is to reverse Haiti’s flight of human capital by building and funding several large public secondary schools, allowing the country to resolve some of the issues regarding its shortage of investment in education. By building a foundation for education and economic development, PIK aims to supply Haitian youth with the tools and opportunities to eradicate extreme poverty.
A native of Tuttle, Okla., McGuire said the Clinton School’s International Public Service Project was one aspect of the school that helped it stand out from some of the other graduate programs he considered. In searching for an international project partner, he wanted to find a global organization that was clear in who it served and why.
“I felt that PIK fit that criteria perfectly,” McGuire said. “Additionally, I wanted a project that afforded me opportunity to stay complete it within the U.S. so that I could ensure my family would not be negatively affected by me being thousands of miles away. Of course, in the end COVID-19 forced all of us to complete projects remotely or in Little Rock.”
McGuire has an extensive writing background, but did not have experience specifically in grant writing before starting his project with Partners in Knowledge. His first step was to learn as much as he could about best practices for grant writing.
“During the grant seeking process, I learned that to really be effective at finding grants, you must create an individual strategy for each potential funder and tailor your proposal around who you are approaching and why,” he explained.
Working with his supervisor, Founder and President Charles Lanis, McGuire began searching for potential funders. “I, along with my supervisor, thought it was important to find a funder that matched PIK’s mission and vision, which is built around the idea of investing into human capital in Haiti.”
Through extensive research, McGuire and Lanis determined that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation met those important elements. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s mission includes supporting communities as they create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success, both as individuals and to the larger community and society. “We are in the process of preparing a grant application in hopes of securing funding to build existing technical educational programs in Haiti,” McGuire said.
McGuire would like to continue to gain knowledge about grant writing and its practices for use in his future professional career.
“During the process of selecting an IPSP project, Dean Rutherford constantly preached about being strategic in any decision that you make,” McGuire said. “For me, that meant finding a project that was predicated on writing, a skill that I believe is highly-marketable in today’s professional environment.”
McGuire graduated with a degree in communication from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Before enrolling at the Clinton School, he worked as a reporter at the Norman Transcript and served as the Director of Chapter Communications for his fraternity.
“I feel the knowledge and experience I have gained while completing my IPSP with Partners in Knowledge continues to open by eyes to what it truly means to be a public servant: to be other-centered – with a clear goal of engaging in public service, which has real-life benefits, as well as consequences,” McGuire said. “I look forward to expanding on that and helping Mr. Lanis accomplish his goals of starting PIK, to eradicate extreme poverty in Haiti by providing high quality education and hope.”
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