It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at The Beat. Normally we spend most of our time typing, editing, and responding, but we’ve had several special projects to work on recently. Some are more exciting than others, which is pretty typical for such a small organization, but all of them have given me an interesting glimpse at the inner workings of a nonprofit.
One of the things we’ve been working on is expanding and updating our grant database. Since The Beat is a nonprofit, we rely on outside grants to support our work. These grants are all very competitive, so we spend a lot of time researching grants, filling out applications, and waiting for responses, and though we are often successful, we also receive quite a few rejections. We have an extensive database with information about all the grants we’ve applied for, as well as new ones we’ve just discovered, and the database has to be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in grant availability and application deadlines. Recently, the other intern and I have spent quite a bit of time researching grants in the database to see whether or not The Beat is a good fit. There are also several deadlines coming up in August, so we’ve been researching the requirements and helping prepare applications.
We’ve also had a couple of volunteer groups in the past couple of weeks. One was a group from a leadership program for high school students, and we decided to hold a mock workshop for them so they could get a sense of what we do. We brought in some topics, gave them time to write, and then, after they left, we prepared their writing for publication in the next issue of the magazine. We also had a group of corporate volunteers come in. They had their own laptops, so we gave them some packets of writing from recent workshops, explained the typing process, and let them type for a few hours. The other intern and I ran the whole session, and it was pretty exciting to be able to train other volunteers after only working with The Beat for a month.
Finally, the other intern and I are working on an editor’s note for the next issue. The editor’s notes appear at the beginning of each issue, and each volunteer or intern will be asked to write at least one editor’s note at some point. The big prison-related news at the moment is the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison. Inmates are protesting against prison conditions, especially the use of long-term solitary confinement. We’re using the hunger strike as an opportunity to discuss solitary confinement in our editor’s note, so we’ve been doing a lot of research about the physical and emotional effects of being isolated for months or even years at a time. It’s too complicated of an issue to discuss in depth here, but it’s been a very powerful and illuminating experience for both of us.
In other news, I’m twenty-one now and will be attending my first workshop this week, so keep an eye out for next week’s post on my experience in juvenile hall!