Asbury Students Played Key Role in $1 Million Grant – Asbury University
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May 26, 2017

Four students and a professor pose for a photo
Prof. Michael Stratford poses for a photo with his Spring 2017 MSW Grantsmanship class. From left: Stratford, Jackie Starr ’16 (MSW ’17), Aaron Sweigard ’16 (MSW ’18), Mariah Lunsford-Brown ’17 and Melissa Brown ’15 (MSW ’17).

WILMORE, Ky. — Students in Asbury University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program earned more than theoretical training during a fundraising class last semester. Through Asbury’s MSW Grantsmanship class, students learned what it takes to research, write and present a successful grant application for $1 million.

Students played a key role in the application for Asbury’s recently announced $1 million grant, which funds academic innovation through the new Collaborative Learning Center (CLC). Each student was assigned a portion of the application, and they exchanged ideas, questions, feedback and edits through Asbury’s online education platform.

Michael Stratford, Asbury’s Director of Foundation Relations & Grant Writing, taught the MSW Grantsmanship class. Stratford says the class provided invaluable professional experience for students, equipping them to help charitable organizations prepare compelling proposal requests for worthwhile projects.

“This was an incredibly exciting and valuable opportunity for each student involved,” Stratford said. “By participating in this hands-on project, they’ve both expanded their own professional toolkits as well as realized the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts will positively impact future generations of Asbury students.”

The grant represents many firsts, both for Asbury and for the MSW Program:

  • The proposal is largest request ever submitted by an Asbury Grantsmanship class.
  • The award is also the single largest grant Asbury has ever received from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the largest private foundation in Kentucky.
  • The grant will complete a matching challenge to secure the naming of the CLC atrium in honor of former professor Don K. Winslow ’65, resulting in an additional $250,000 gift toward the CLC. 

Aaron Sweigard ’16 (MSW ’18) says the class provided a valuable perspective on the postive impact charitable organizations can make.

 “As I anticipate collaborating with many agencies in the future, it is beneficial to understand the ways in which organizations can partner with individuals and foundations to bring about lasting change in their communities,” he said. “Additionally, a more thorough concept of assessment and evaluation methodology will allow me to better show donors and potential donors the impacts of their gifts with both reliability and accuracy.”

In Asbury’s MSW program, students are not only equipped theoretical background and practical skills — they’re also grounded in a Christian worldview. 

“Faith and spirituality interact with practice frequently in Asbury’s MSW program,” Sweigard said. “Specifically, there’s a drive to serve others, the belief that people and their circumstances are redeemable, the confidence in a very real purpose to life, the understanding that all people are created with value and dignity and the clear example of selfless service seen in the life of Jesus Christ.”


To learn more about Asbury’s MSW program, visit: