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Kyle Weckerly: From Ghostwriter to Full-Time Nonprofit Grant Writer

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by Alexis Swenson
January 16, 2022
Kyle Weckerly: From Ghostwriter to Full-Time Nonprofit Grant Writer image
Description
Kyle Weckerly applied his writing, project management, and budgeting skills to successfully transition from a ghostwriter to a grant writer. He landed a full-time position as a grant writer after only eight months in the Grant Writing Unicorn Collective. Now, Kyle works with a nonprofit that provides repurposed medical equipment to the San Antonio community.

Funding Area
Healthcare, Education, Youth, Engineering

Location
San Antonio, Texas

Website
Kyle Weckerly

Careers for Writers

While Kyle had been interested in grant writing for a while, it was several years before he committed to the skill. A few years out of college, Kyle met with a career counselor to ask the timeless question so many young people find themselves asking: “What should I do?” She suggested grant writing based upon his interest in writing.

However, the timing wasn’t quite right for Kyle and he wasn’t convinced the project management element of grant writing was a good fit for him. Then, he launched a ghostwriting business a few years later. It was increasingly difficult for him to gain traction in the ghostwriting field living in San Antonio, a city not well known for publishing or marketing. After having kids, he reevaluated his career and lifestyle. He began to more seriously consider grant writing.

Kyle was also encouraged by other individuals prompting him to check out grant writing, especially since ghostwriting had provided him many transferable skills relevant to grant writing.

“Project management was a big one for me. Even though we are writers, I'd say that most 40% of our time is actual writing,” Kyle said. “After having kids, I felt more confident in my project management skills. And, I can handle budgeting on a basic level. So, I felt like I was good there.”

A chance encounter with a nonprofit consultant who offered to help him break into the grant writing field sealed the deal for Kyle. “I was finally in a better mindset to have that opportunity to look more seriously into the Learn Grant Writing program and the Grant Writing Unicorn Collective,” Kyle said.

Grant Writing Certificate

After absorbing as much information made available for free from Learn Grant Writing, Kyle earned his grant writing certificate through the Collective. He started reaching out to his network (including the nonprofit consultant!) and conducting informational interviews, a process we teach in the Collective to gain clients.

“I would suggest that to anyone; to look not just for super connector in the broad sense, but a nonprofit consultant, because they're usually going to have those connections. If you're near a big city, there's gotta be at least one of those,” Kyle said.

Through his efforts, Kyle connected with the CEO of a nonprofit council in San Antonio. Nonprofit job postings routinely emailed from the Council is where Kyle discovered a Grant Writer position for Project MEND. He submitted an application and his freshly established network offered to put in a good word for him as he moved through the interview process.

“Not only that, I started researching what kind of grants I could find for them. That was a lot of time spent—really just kind of reading over some grants,” Kyle said. “When I went back for my second interview, I said, ‘Well, I've got about five or six grants that kind of look like they could align. Maybe, maybe not, but at least these would give you an idea of where to go.’”

Kyle secured the Grant Writer position which he attributes to a bunch of little things working in sync including the connections he made, his tenacity in researching, and skills gained from the Collective.

“I don't feel I could have gotten this job if I hadn't gone through the Collective,” Kyle said. “The connections were obviously integral to that and the motivation was obviously integral, but I feel that without this extra piece, it still wouldn't have happened."

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Nonprofit Grant Writing

Kyle’s proudest moment of his grant writing journey is landing a full-time Grant Writer job for Project MEND, a nonprofit providing repurposed medical equipment to the San Antonio community. In true Unicorn style, Kyle celebrated this major win!

“I got myself a peach milkshake at Chick-fil-A and I stayed home and I watched a couple movies. I just had a nice afternoon for myself,” Kyle said. “Then my family came home and I got to share the news with them. My wife cried. I've cried.”

In his current role, he’s proud to have written dozens of grants ranging from $5,000 - $300,000. He also coordinates grants management for those grants the organization plans to reapply to, as well as help identify what grants still need to be identified.

The project management lessons offered through the Collective have been integral in Kyle’s current work both for juggling elements of a grant application and for coordinating with fellow employees on finances and reports.

“It's great to be writing and just doing all that, but if you can't keep it organized, you're really going to be wasting a lot of energy there,” Kyle said. “I went back and rewatched those project management modules again and again to hopefully get those processes down in my brain. That way when I got there it was kind of a second nature. Now I'm still figuring out that process as it pertains to how I work there uniquely.”

Check out this video on how to navigate project management for grant writers.

project management for grant writers

Kyle also continues to use our funding research strategy even after earning his grant writing certificate. “As a freelancer, that's a great way to get into nonprofits and to show your value and what you can do to help them, and you know, build that experience,” Kyle said. “But then, even as a full-time grant writer, that's something that I'm doing.”

Based on what is taught in the Collective, Kyle has been inspired to implement efficient and effective processes for his job that can be easily picked up by others in the event of an unforeseen emergency.

“It gives me a level of comfort knowing that before I started, instead of having to pick that up,” Kyle said. “Now I feel my questions are a little more high level instead of ‘what do I do?’. I feel it is much more time efficient.”

How To Become A Grant Writer

Looking back on his grant writing experience thus far, Kyle is particularly grateful for the project management tools and grant research methods that he learned in the Grant Writing Unicorn Collective. The strategies and systems covered within the course enabled Kyle to easily transition from a freelancer into a full-time position.

To those considering joining the Collective, Kyle highlights the strategic advantage to having great education, earning grant writer certification, and having a stellar community supporting you.

“It's a way to get your feet wet and build that credibility and get comfortable with the process. You're going to have to learn a lot obviously, but it points you in the right direction. You can leverage that which is great,” Kyle said. “You can say ‘I've learned these skills and I know how to help you specifically with your funding in these specific instances.”

Grant Writing Resources

Watch our interview with Kyle here.

Kyle Weckerly

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Want to speak with someone in the Grant Writing Unicorn Collective to get their perspective? Shoot us a DM on Instagram and we can connect you: DM us on Instagram.

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About the author...

Alexis Swenson serves as Unicorn Coach and Content Director for Learn Grant Writing. The product of small-town northwestern Minnesota, she is a self-declared “old soul” and grounded free spirit. She has secured over $2.7 million in grant funding in her career. Alexis writes to help people learn, laugh, and not be so hard on themselves.

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Want To Learn More?

We made this video to answer your questions about how to build a career in grant writing without the fear of where you will find clients or the fear of failure. We cover the top three mistakes that keep people from making the leap from a soul-sucking job to something more meaningful.

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