In less than a month, I turn 29 years old. In that short amount of time, I’ve learned everything I need to know about the world. Ok, ok, ok, I just lied.
The truth is, in the wise paraphrasing of Socrates’ words, I know nothing.
For those of you less familiar with Plato’s The Apology of Socrates, let me give you the gist: Socrates is on trial for corrupting the youth of Athens (and some other stuff). His defense? How could he be corrupting the youth with knowledge when, he himself, has none? (Confused? No worries, there is a reason they call it the Socratic Paradox). To get to the point, Socrates understands that his knowledge is limited. Unlike other “wise men” who exert their wisdom onto others, it takes a truly wise man/woman to be aware of their own ignorance.
And to that point, let me rephrase my previous statement: I am a wise woman who admits that she does not know everything.
Now I am going to admit this whole “I don’t know everything” thing is something that does not come easy for me. After all, I am a self-proclaimed arrogant a**hole who believes in her own perfection (jokingly, of course). I have spent my entire adult life consulting others on what to do by way of asserting my confidence in my areas of expertise.
However, as I grow older, I am reminded that my experience and academic achievements do not qualify me to “know it all.” I must continue to reach out to those with more knowledge than me. Then again, in the words of my Mom’s Dad, “you can take all the advice in the world, but it does not help if it goes in one ear and out the other.”
In the case of this year’s STEM Grant, I have heard mountains of advice, I have discussed many solutions, and I can say, in semi-full confidence, that I am moving forward with what I think is best. To sum it up, welcome to the 3rd Funding Cycle of Colocation America’s STEM Grant.
I’m sure the question on some of your minds is, “Why do you need an article to explain this?” The truth is my Mom (for background, check out this article). My Mom, an expert in the nonprofit field, is one of my biggest advocates, supporters, and, let’s go with, coaches, I have. I am proud to be her daughter and have learned a lot from her.
However… (scary Jaws music in the background)… I do not agree with everything she says.
As an expert in her field, I respect her for all the amazing work she has done and will continue to do. She knows what it means to not only apply for grants but to run an entire nonprofit. She gets nonprofits and knows best practices. Heck, she even teaches it (unsolicited plug for those in Cali looking for an amazing Nonprofit Management class). And, regarding this year’s STEM Grant, I think she is wrong.
Let’s hold up a moment before I publicly offend my Mom—she is still on the STEM Grant Selection Committee. She is still amazing and all those lovely things (it is Mother’s Day on Sunday). I love her and all that jazz… Moving on….
Yes, I will admit I am wrong—I am not following best practices. I launched our first STEM Grant in March 2015. I, then, launched the second funding cycle in March of 2017. And now, we all know, it is May of 2018 and there has been no funding cycle announced (well, minus, right now). In the perfect world, there were (past tense) two options: 1) I wait another year and launch the new funding cycle in March 2019, staying “consistent” on my grant or 2) I was on top of my s**t and launched the grant in March of 2018. But, as we all know, Option 2 did not happen and, to be frank, I didn’t like Option 1 (technically, there was a 3rd and 4th option but I didn’t like those either).
What am I left with? Well, an out-of-the-box, not-best-practices solution: launch the grant when I can and give extra time.
So, that is exactly what I did. Thanks to the support of my sister (you can read a little more about her wisdom in this article), I have decided to launch the grant. Yes, it is during summer time. Yes, it is a long “proposal” cycle. Yes, it is messing up the timing and momentum I had. And, most importantly, yes, it gives STEM programs around the U.S. more opportunities to receive funding for their program.
To be frank, there was no good solution and I messed up. I missed the deadline I gave myself to, well, work on the STEM Grant. This is no excuse but reality—to have a STEM Grant, I must ensure that the profit is flowing in. As happens in business, there were too many pending deals at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 that needed my attention.
Sure, I will admit, I could have made it work. I could have worked more hours than I already do to ensure that it went out “on time.” But, to be honest, the more I thought about getting the STEM Grant out on time (with my already high workload), the more I regretted my decision to even do the STEM Grant “early.” After all, this should be something I enjoy, love, and want to continue.
To sum it up, this is my “sorry for 2018” (remember the classic “Sorry 2004”?). I am going to take this moment to apologize: I apologize for all those grant writers who are on top of their game and reached out to me (and are now delayed in their grant writing cycle). I apologize to the teachers who are going on summer break (and may have to work now because of this delay). I apologize to the organizations that needed the funds for Summer 2018 (and will have to wait until October 2018). And, lastly, I apologize to my Mom for ignoring her advice and pushing forward anyway.
But, with all those apologies, I do not regret my decision.
I launched the STEM Grant this week to prove my and Colocation America’s commitment to giving back. At the end of the day, I believe it is better to support STEM programs that not all. We and all businesses should remember that it’s important to give back to our communities. The way I see it is simple: without an educated and strong group of youth, all our businesses will fail. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Yes, cliché, but true.
We, the Colocation America Staff and STEM Grant Selection Committee, stand by our decision to launch the grant now (yes, even my Mom). We hope you and your organization will forgive the delay and apply (even if it takes time during your summer break).
For ease, here is the link to the STEM Grant: https://www.ColocationAmerica.com/STEM-Grant
As always, we are just an email away: CSR@ColocationAmerica.com. Thank you!
My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.