Big and Small, We Need them All

by Joni Schmalzried

As another grant cycle approaches the review stage, I have been reflecting on the wide variety of grant making that takes place, not only at AWS Foundation, but our neighboring Foundations as well.

As the community leans in to look at the grantmaking of AWS Foundation, I think there are some important things to know. Grants come in all shapes and sizes…everything from a small Mighty Money grant to support a self-advocacy organization to the large Vantage Grants you may have recently read about. Each grant request before us receives the same TLC (from both our staff and board), regardless of the ask. AWS Foundation recognizes the importance of both the big and small grants and initiatives. The field of disability is deep and wide; without a plethora of organizations serving the mission, individuals and their families would not have the ‘choice’ that is imperative.

At the same time, I have thought about some of the most impactful grants I have seen in my (almost) three years at AWS Foundation.

One of my first ‘new’ grantees was a small ask to hire ASL interpreters for a theater/music performance. Not only was the grantee ecstatic, when I attended the performance – I saw first-hand the power of small levels of support along with the impact that mission minded organizations can make. Another powerful grant memory was with a school district to train a classroom emotional service dog. Those pictures were truly worth a thousand words.

To all of our grantees, big and small – we value you, appreciate the work you do, and are honored to walk with you as you build and grow an inclusive and universally designed Northeast Indiana.