Pages tagged "Blog"
Oral Health on the Rise!
May 10, 2019
By Fransisca Meralus, Oral Health Coordinator
The Florida Institute for Health Innovation has partnered with several organizations including Catalyst Miami to produce a consumer report based on oral health. The purpose of the report is to serve as a tool to guide the mission of any organization or state agency working to understand or improve oral health services and delivery in the state of Florida. This report is just one of the many oral health initiatives that Catalyst Miami has helped to develop. Over the past years, Catalyst Miami has conducted oral health surveys at numerous local community events to gather data on consumers’ access to oral health services, oral health status, and perceived barriers to care. The report will release soon.
The Oral Health 2014 Consumer Engagement Initiative was designed in 2013 to better understand Florida’s oral health status. Surveys and focus groups were conducted to identify different barriers to health care. With the support of the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, the data collection from surveys and focus groups expanded statewide.
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement invested $6.1 million dollars in oral health initiatives during the first quarter of 2019.
The first quarter grants include investments in the following areas:
- Emphasizing the importance of oral health to overall health;
- Integrating oral health into person-centered health care, by focusing on the adoption of health care models that improve outcomes and reduce costs;
- Including an adult dental benefit in publicly funded health coverage;
- Eradicating dental disease in children and;
- Incorporating oral health into the primary education system.
Achieving these different areas will lead to systems change, which is the big result Catalyst Miami wishes to see within access to oral health care.
For more information about the following investment, read more here.
Tax Season Wrap-up Guide
Updated April 15, 2019
Most taxpayers are being affected by major tax law changes this year. While most will get a tax refund, others may find that they owe taxes. Those who owe may qualify for a waiver of the estimated tax penalty that normally applies. See Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates and Trusts, and its instructions for details.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17 to file their returns.
Checking on refunds
The IRS issues 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Using the “Where’s My Refund?” online tool, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS receives an e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mailed a paper return. The tool has a tracker that displays progress through three phases: (1) Return Received; (2) Refund Approved, and (3) Refund Sent.
All that is needed to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool is the taxpayer’s Social Security number, tax filing status (such as single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the tax refund claimed on the return.
“Where’s My Refund?” is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check the status more often.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to review their tax withholding using the IRS Withholding Calculator and make any needed adjustments early in 2019. Taxpayers should check their withholding each year and when life changes occur, such as marriage, childbirth, adoption or buying a home. Doing a Paycheck Checkup can help taxpayers avoid having too little or too much tax withheld from their paychecks. The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can generally control the size of their tax refund by adjusting their tax withholding.
For 2019, it’s important to review withholding and do a Paycheck Checkup. This is especially true for taxpayers who adjusted their withholding in 2018 – specifically in the middle or later parts of the year. And it’s also important for taxpayers who received a tax bill when they filed this year or want to adjust the size of their tax refund for next year.
How to make a tax payment
Taxpayers should visit the “Pay” tab on IRS.gov to see their payment options. Most tax software products give taxpayers various payment options, including the option to withdraw the funds from a bank account. These include:
- Won’t make the tax deadline? Get six more months to file your return: http://www.irs.gov/freefile;
- Can’t pay the full amount you owe? #IRS will work with you: http://www.irs.gov/payments
- Putting off filing your tax return because you owe money but can’t pay? You shouldn’t. #IRS can help if you’re having trouble paying all you owe at once. Listen to this audio tip to learn more: https://go.usa.gov/xEyrA
- Avoid penalties: If you cannot pay in full by April 15, pay what you can and consider a payment plan for the rest. Check https://go.usa.gov/xEUQH
- #IRS is lowering to 80% the threshold for penalty relief to taxpayers whose tax withholding and estimated payments fell short for 2018. See details at: https://go.usa.gov/xES9z
- If you owe taxes, #IRS reminds you of the many easy payment options available. https://go.usa.gov/xEUQH
Can’t pay a tax bill?
Everyone should file their 2018 tax return by the tax filing deadline regardless of whether they can pay in full. Taxpayers who can’t pay all their taxes have options including:
- Online Payment Agreement— Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option and an agreement can usually be set up on IRS.gov in a matter of minutes.
- Installment Agreement— Installment agreements are paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction.
- Delaying Collection— If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer's financial condition improves.
- Offer in Compromise(OIC) — Taxpayers who qualify enter into an agreement with the IRS that settles their tax liability for less than the full amount owed.
Catalyst Miami provides free tax preparation services, but ONLY during tax season which ended on April 15, 2019. If you are still looking for free VITA tax services, please check here for other tax sites.
Public Allies Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Day of Service
February 19, 2019
By Kenneth Mobley
Community Outreach Specialist, Public Allies AmeriCorps Member
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Monday, January 21st, 2019, Catalyst Miami’s Public Allies Miami (PAM) cohort joined hundreds of volunteers from various organizations, communities, and students from Miami-Dade County Public Schools to honor The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy with a day of service.
This years’ MLK Service Day project was hosted by City Year Miami, a non-profit that focuses on educational equity. City Year Miami decided to host a school beautification project for Madison Middle School, located in the West Little River community. Here, we came together to enhance a place our youth call home for six or more hours of their day.
The 2018-2019 PAM Cohort engaged in helping to morph Madison middle school into a more engaging, visually appealing place for current and future students to learn, grow and play. Beautification projects encourage students to be more involved in their school day, while also teaching students to be more respectful of the environment and to be a part of what keeps their environment clean.
As the community recognizes how well attended their nearby school is, and how much more engaged their children are with learning and being in school, we hope that a fresh sense of pride will consume the community as a whole. We were tasked with filling in the geo-shapes outlining the walls near the entrance of the school. We also helped the host organization add more geo-shape outlining to the front of the school, that we later painted.
It was amazing adding our hands to this uplifting effort and having the chance to work with people of different backgrounds on one common goal. There is nothing more fulfilling than service to a cause larger than yourself!
Easy ways to make events more accessible to those with disabilities
March 19, 2019
On March 7, 2019, the ENABLE Project partnered with the Venture Cafe Miami to host a training called "Planning an Accessible Event". The Enable Project is a coalition that brings together non-profit and social justice organizations and their staff to create channels for integration of people with disabilities within their organizations and movements.
"Planning an Accessible Event" is a workshop designed to guide organizations on how to integrate and include people with disabilities in ongoing civic engagement and social justice efforts, as doing so can empower people with disabilities to take advantage of their rights and participate in social justice and political movements. As a society, we all benefit when everyone is able to participate and contribute.
South Florida is home to a large disability community, and events like this will ensure accessibility and integration for all people. Unfortunately, the disability community often finds itself unable to participate in social justice and civic engagement efforts due to a lack of understanding by progressive organizations of how to create welcoming and accessible environments in their organizing spaces. The Enable Project seeks to change that.
The training included a wide range of things organizations can do to create not only accessible environments for people with disabilities, but also simple things we all can do when we write an email, newsletter, blogpost, or create a flyer. For instance, the choice of size and color of a particular font can make a text much easier to read for people with visual impairments. Also, clean, clear fonts are more accessible to people with learning disabilities (dyslexia), ASD, as well as physical and intellectual disabilities.
Other subjects covered by the workshop included:
- How to alt-tag images on flyers, emails, newsletters, and other outreach and communication resources so that they can be read by screen readers
- How to make arrangements to ensure the venue is ADA compliant
- How to ask the right questions to make special arrangements in advance
- ...and many other details often overlooked.
The good news for those who were unable to participate is that we have the materials available to anyone interested in creating more welcoming, accessible and integrated environments. Email us ([email protected]) and we’ll be glad to share the workshop’s handout and other available resources.
Lastly, we would like to invite you to the next Enable Project’s workshop, "SSDI Training for Providers", which will focus on the Social Security Disability application process and appeals process. It is perfect for direct services providers.
Please see and share the flyer below, and use this link to register. We hope to see you there!
Reflecting on recent community workshop, "Overtown: The People Speak!"
January 24, 2019
By Kenneth Mobley
Community Outreach Specialist, Public Allies AmeriCorps Member
On December 15, 2018, Catalyst Miami held “Overtown: The People Speak!” at A Space Called Tribe. This was the inaugural event for Catalyst Miami’s resilience hub initiative.
Catalyst Miami’s new resilience hubs, embedded in County buildings in low-wealth neighborhoods, will provide direct services, programming linked to disaster resiliency, and advocacy initiatives that Catalyst Miami has provided in various forms for over 20 years. By integrating the hubs into neighborhoods, we’ll also create a mechanism to help residents better prepare for and recover from storms.
The purpose of the community visioning workshop is to introduce a fun and interactive way for Catalyst Miami to gain insight on what is important to the residents of Overtown and the best way to engage with its residents.
The Overtown workshop featured an exhibition by local artist Alexis Caputo, who shared candid images of Overtown residents, a spoken word piece, and the premiere of her documentary “When the Morning Comes in Overtown”, featuring the children and advocates from The Overtown Youth Center.
The children who attended this event had their space to create and share their view of their neighborhood with “Zip-odes”, poetry created from your zip code and each letter in the name of your city, and postcards that reflected the faces of the residents that live in Overtown.
The residents got a chance to converse with one another about important issues in an environment that reflects them. There was also space to share insightful ways to help Catalyst Miami customize our existing services, and suggest new ones, that best serve its residents.
With tasty food catered by local Chef Shonuff, and the contemporary atmosphere provided by a Space Called Tribe, this event captured the essence of community building and showcased the best of Overtown.
4th Annual Oral Health Equity Summit
April 15, 2019
Over 100 people attended the 4th Annual Oral Health Equity Summit on March 29, 2019! Event photos can be found here.
In the first panel, representatives from Jessie Trice Community Health Systems Inc., FIU Neighborhood Help Program, and Community Health of South Florida Inc. shared information about different dental care resources in Miami-Dade County.
Following this panel, dental care was discussed from the policy aspect, to explore ways to increase or incentivize civic participation in oral health advocacy. Dr. Claudia Serna, an Associate Professor of Public Health at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, discussed the Dental Health Act, the first piece of legislation at the federal level to solely cover dental care. Miriam Harmatz, the Executive Director at the Florida Health Justice Project, spoke about policy proposals in Medicare and Medicaid that affect Miami-Dade County, while also shedding light on increasing dental coverage in Jackson Health systems. Catalyst Miami’s Resilience Director, Zelalem Adefris, tied in how Catalyst Miami engages community residents advocacy for social justice issues such as oral health.
Students from Nova Southeastern University presented oral health projects. One student, researched the benefits of local drinking tap water, finding that drinking tap water is not only safe, but also beneficial to good oral health (called “Encouraging the Consumption of Water in Miami-Dade County Schools”). Another student, Lovleen Sidhu, created and presented an advocacy toolkit, hoping to serve as a roadmap on how to effectively advocate for oral health access. Following this presentation, participants were able to write a letter to their State Senator, either Marco Rubio or Rick Scott, encouraging their support for better oral health care policies.
Two oral health youth advocates, Likia Horne and Jasmine Fuller, presented their photovoice project that explored the lack of healthy food options around their school and neighborhood. Over the past year, Likia, Jasmine, and other youth advocates, have been raising awareness among their peers about the importance of oral health, collecting advocacy letters and running a social media campaign called #Rush2Brush.
We hope to continue to create more oral health advocates in Miami and avenues to share resources while increasing access. Be on the lookout for upcoming advocacy sessions on increasing oral health access within Miami-Dade County.
HELP SAVE SNAP!
COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED:
Struggling Workers and Families Deserve Food
Tell the Trump Administration: Hands Off SNAP!
It’s quick and easy - Leave a Comment by Wednesday, April 10th
Procrastinators: You're in luck! If you didn't leave a comment by the deadline this week, the submission period has been extended. You can still comment by Wednesday, April 10th.
Food assistance is under attack—again. And we need your voice to fight back.
If the Trump Administration has its way, 755,000 very poor people could lose nutrition benefits through SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). These are working-age people without dependents who receive benefits because they live in places with very high unemployment. Thanks to waivers requested by state governments, these people are exempt from the standard time limit of three months of assistance every three years if they cannot document enough work hours. This exemption means people who can’t work enough through no fault of their own still get enough to eat.
But the Trump Administration has been fighting to make it harder for states to give struggling workers a break. Right now, they’re trying to force rigid time limits through a rule change—but they cannot implement their proposed rule without first taking into account public comments about the proposal.
Public feedback works. That’s why we need your help. The government has to take every unique comment under consideration when assessing a rule change like this; the more comments, the more roadblocks to slow or stop harmful changes. Furthermore, judges deciding cases challenging these kinds of rule changes have referred to these comments in their own rulings. It might feel like leaving a comment won’t make a difference. But judges have overturned unfair rules like this in part because federal agencies didn’t take comments into consideration. This was evidence that the process behind making these changes was unfair. (You can read about such an instance involving Medicaid here.)
That’s why your voice is so important.
Here’s how to comment:
The Coalition on Human Needs’ member the Center for American Progress has a comment portal that makes it easy to send a comment. Use the comment in this platform and then add your own take to make it unique. You can talk about how everyone deserves to be free from hunger; you can tell a personal story about how benefits like SNAP have positively impacted you or someone you know; or write about any other reason that resonates for you personally.
(Note: Please make sure your comment is unique: “unique” is understood to mean that about 30 percent of the comment’s text is different from other submissions.)
Use the Center for American Progress comment platform at handsoffsnap.org
Let’s get to commenting!
This call to action was originally published by the Coalition on Human Needs.
Recap of South Dade and Miami Gardens community workshops
April 16, 2019
By Mauricio Montealegre
Community Outreach Specialist, Public Allies AmeriCorps Member
[caption id="attachment_9003" align="alignnone" width="600"] Workshop participant considers the first 3 things to address if she were elected Mayor today[/caption]
In March, Catalyst Miami hosted two community visioning workshops, one in South Dade, "One South Dade", and another in Miami Gardens, "Voices of the Gardens". These workshops continue in the footsteps of the "The People Speak" event in Overtown held in December 2018.
[caption id="attachment_9008" align="alignleft" width="350"] Rachelle works with client to check-up on personal finances[/caption]
These workshops help us gather resident-level information to better understand how to best serve each neighborhood in our expanded operations into South Dade, Miami Gardens, Overtown, Little Haiti/Little River, and Hialeah. Deepening our work in these five neighborhoods is one of the main new initiatives that emerged as part of Catalyst Miami's latest strategic plan (to learn more about our strategic plan, please contact [email protected] requesting an invitation to Coffee with Catalyst).
The goal of the community visioning workshops is to gain insight on what is most important to residents in a fun and interactive approach. Residents were able to participate in activities that piqued their interest, including:
- Marking their favorite establishments on an asset map,
- Sharing the top 3 things residents would address if they were elected Mayor,
- Getting a check-up on personal finances at a pop-up financial clinic,
- Composing "zip-odes" to their respective neighborhoods (zip-odes is poetry created from your zip code and each letter in the name of your city),
- Informing us of what services they'd like to see us provide, and
- Being specific about how they prefer to communicate.
[caption id="attachment_9009" align="alignright" width="300"] Residents used mini lego blocks to gather neighborhood demographics[/caption]
Residents and staff mingled throughout the events, discussing what was special to them about their neighborhoods and what could be improved. A few clients shared personal testimonies of free services they had received from Catalyst Miami.
The "One South Dade" workshop was held at Exit One Taproom in Florida City, a family-friendly lounge with an on-site food truck, while the "Voices of the Gardens" workshop was held at the YWCA Intergenerational Center, a bright and airy center perfect for community gatherings. Both events featured catering local from their respective neighborhoods.
[caption id="attachment_9010" align="alignleft" width="340"] South Dade residents mingle at One South Dade event[/caption]
If you live in South Dade, Miami Gardens, Overtown, Little Haiti/Little River, or Hialeah, and want to share your thoughts about our expanding operations, please contact Zelalem Adefris at [email protected].
Meet the 2018-2019 cohort of Public Allies Miami!
January 23, 2019
Please welcome these incredible young adults who are completing 10-month apprenticeships in Miami nonprofits as part of the Public Allies AmeriCorps program. Through this program, these Allies sharpen their leadership skills and gain real-world experience working for social justice. The mission of Public Allies is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.
Back row: Megan Bennett, Kenneth Mobley, Elijah Muhammad, Roxy Azuaje (program manager), Shekita Tookes; Middle row: Kathy Rodriguez, Alexis Miller, Kayla Jean-Baptiste; Front row: Yareliz Mendez-Zamora, Mauricio Montealegre
Kenneth Mobley serves as a Community Outreach Specialist at Catalyst Miami. He specializes in strengthening community cohesion by collecting, analyzing, and reporting data that provides an opportunity to develop leadership and other comprehensive programs. Before working with Catalyst, Kenneth’s worked as a Pharmacy Technician. After being denied from another AmeriCorps program, undeterred and tenacious, Kenneth applied to be a Public Ally. Someone once told Kenneth, “You’re at the table or on the menu.” Today, Kenneth strives to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.
Elijah Muhammad is a recent graduate from Miami Northwestern Senior High. His commitment to helping his community led him to apply to the Public Allies Miami program. He is placed at the Miami Children’s Initiative where he does community outreach work and collects data for personal development and growth. Elijah spends his time helping others in the Liberty City area, dancing, and tinkering with technology. One of Elijah’s goals is to break stereotypes surrounding young black men through dance. Though he is young, Elijah knows that through Public Allies, he can sharpen his skills, build his leadership potential, and challenge the notion that young people do not care about their future.
Kathy Rodriguez is currently a Public Ally at Catalyst Miami. She is a Community Outreach Specialist at Live Healthy Miami Gardens. Her role as a Community Outreach Specialist focuses on promoting wellness programs, such as SNAP and WIC. She is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications. Apart from being passionate about traveling and learning about different cultures, Kathy is passionate about women’s rights. She hopes to work with young women empowerment organizations to promote education, self-empowerment, and hope.
Shekita Tookes is a Miami native and the daughter of small business owners in Liberty City. Growing up, Shekita had fun with her friends, and was an entrepreneur alongside her parents. As an adult, job opportunities and cost of living caused Shekita to try out her talents in Metro-Atlanta, but that did not stunt her love for the city of Miami. With every vacation or visit home, changes throughout her beloved city became more prominent, talks around climate change and gentrification could no longer be avoided and the need for resilience has become personal. Becoming a Public Ally has allowed Shekita to reconnect with the city she loves and be a part of the change. As a Community Outreach Specialist for Miami Gardens, Shekita hopes to be a part of conversations and initiatives to build a stronger Miami.
Alexis Miller is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. As a Public Ally, she is with the Federation of Families in Miami Gardens where she works as a Youth Coordinator for their Positive Development After School Program.
Megan Bennett is a Tampa native with a dedication to equipping and empowering vulnerable communities. She currently serves at Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation as their Tech Hire Coordinator where she links youth to tech training, and jobs. Prior to joining Public Allies, Megan worked connecting individuals to grassroots community initiatives. She has overseen operations at a mission camp, facilitated volunteer trips with Alternative Breaks, and taught English abroad. Megan graduated with a Bachelor's in Sociology and Certificate in Latin American Studies from Florida International University. She hopes to pursue higher education in Public Administration. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, butchering languages, and travel. #jackdidntneeddie
Mauricio Montealegre is the son of Colombia immigrants and a born native of Miami, Florida. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and currently is seeking to further his education by earning a Master’s degree. Mauricio serves as the Community Outreach Specialist for Homestead, where he explores what resiliency is in an area that faces many challenges, but is still filled with people who have hope. Mauricio’s interest include podcasts, TV shows, horror movies, traveling, and reading.
Yareliz Mendez-Zamora is an activist, story-teller, and writer. Born and raised in Miami, Yareliz grew up listening to her family’s immigration stories and constantly draws inspiration from them. Her family comes from La Tierra de Lagos y Volcanes– Nicaragua. She graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in English and History, as well as a Minor in Latin American Studies in 2016. Yareliz is currently enrolled at the University of Miami, where she is getting her Masters in Community and Social Change. She is working as a Public Ally and is serving as a Community Outreach Specialist at Catalyst. In the future, Yareliz wants to continue fighting for equity and liberation.
Kayla Jean-Baptiste is currently a Public Ally at Catalyst Miami. She is a Community Outreach Specialist for the Little Haiti/ Little River area. Her role as a Community Outreach Specialist focuses on promoting community engagement and involvement. Kayla is from Wynwood, Florida. She is a currently a student at Florida Atlantic University majoring in Criminal Justice. Kayla has an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Miami-Dade College. She is passionate about advocating for youth because when the youth stand for their beliefs and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent themselves, and their communities, with pride and courage. Kayla’s interest is watching horror movies, listening to music, and reading. She hopes to work with the Juvenile Justice Department.
3 Easy Steps to Promote Your Nonprofit with Private Grant Makers and Donors for Free
By Bentonne Snay, guest blogger
Did you know that millions of US donors and grant makers look at GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles to inform their funding decisions? Seriously, seven million donors and funders via GuideStar’s 200+ partners!
In conducting research to identify prospective grant makers for our nonprofit clients recently, I learned that several foundations, particularly financial institution-based foundations, rely on GuideStar not only to view nonprofits’ financials via Forms 990 but also for other information about nonprofits being considered as potential grantees. GuideStar also powers giving portals, including AmazonSmile, Facebook, Network for Good, Salesforce.org, and others; all major U.S.-based donor-advised funds, including Fidelity Charitable and Charles Schwab Foundation; 35,000+ private foundation staff members; and 16+ leading community foundations.
So how can you take advantage of this powerful and free marketing and promotions opportunity? It is simple…
Update/edit your nonprofit’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile (profile) in 3 easy steps:
- Go to https://learn.guidestar.org/update-nonprofit-reportto request access to your profile.
- Allow GuideStar to verify your identity and provide you with secure access to your profile.
- Update/edit your nonprofit’s profile so it describes your unique story and impactful outcomes.
GuideStar, which is financed by donors and grant makers, wants nonprofits like yours to enhance your Nonprofit Profile with detailed information that funders want and need to make the most informed funding decisions. Thus, GuideStar awards “Seals of Transparency,” making it easier for potential donors and grant makers to compare the nonprofits seeking more funding than they have available and aiding in their decision-making about which nonprofits most deserve funding.
When you are ready to update your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile so your nonprofit can easily be found by potential donors and grant makers (and begin to earn the Bronze Seal of Transparency, click on this link: https://www.guidestar.org/ManageNonprofit?hsCtaTracking=eb169fb8-fc8f-4883-8910-cbda94df5cca%7C790f546c-550f-4d0c-abaf-b6415ebbbe6a.
For nonprofit organizations seeking additional information on fundraising, especially grants research, writing and reporting, check out our website at wwww.thesnaygroup.com. If you think our services would benefit your nonprofit, please complete our Grant Readiness Questionnaire on the website and also at http://thesnaygroup.com/index.php/grant-readiness-questionnaire/.
About the Author: Bentonne Snay
Bentonne Snay, President and CEO of The Snay Group, Inc., is an experienced executive and fundraiser with more than 30 years in the nonprofit sector, including 27 years as a grant professional and a Grant Professional Certified since 2011.