Grant Development Specialist Testimonials

The Village Planning and Development Program awards up to 20 contracts per year, 10 in both the spring and fall cycles. A village council can submit an application to hire a temporary Community Planning Specialist or a Grant Development Specialist during the advertisement period. An application is required from both the village council and the temporary employee. If approved, the temporary Community Planning or Grant Development Specialist (GDS) contract period is 16 weeks long.

To learn how the GDS positions have helped Villages in the Tanana Chief Conference region, please read the testimonials from the following Villages.


Benefit of Grant Development Specialist Program

The Grant Development Specialist Program is a great benefit to the Hughes Village Tribe and to the Community. It benefits the tribe by creating jobs, and learning from these jobs. Whoever is the GDS works on grants and brings funds to the tribe for projects. I think it benefits the community by hiring more people for projects. The more grants or funds we apply for expands the community itself.

With the GDS Program, the tribe can hire someone from the village to work. Whoever is the GDS not only has a job but can also gain experience from it, experience such as working in an office.

The Grant Development Specialist will work on grants to fund projects. Grants such as the IGAP Grant. Last year Eileen Jackson and I worked on it together and now the tribe hired 2 people working as the IGAP Coordinator and Assistant. They went to trainings and are now working according to what was on the work plan.

The Grant Development Specialist Program also helps the community. Funds are being brought in, people can go to work, and some projects help the community grow.

Nicholas Cleveland


I first heard about the Grant Development Specialist position by the Huslia Tribe. They posting flyers around town and advertised it on Facebook. I decided to fill out for it, because it was a new field for me and I enjoy challenges. I was hired in the beginning of November.

My first day on the job was attending the Grant Development Conference in Fairbanks on November 1-3, 2017. I learned to translate a need for funds into a well-considered project complete with goals and objectives, a viable budget, and a strong evaluation plan- all essential components of a competitive proposal.

My first grant I applied for was the RurAL CAP Youth Development and Culture Grant. It was a great learning experience and quite the challenge, with only a week and a half until the deadline. I work with the TCC Planning and Development (P&D) program. With the help of LaVerne Huntington, I was able to complete the application before the deadline. I was notified the next week that I was awarded the $8,500 grant to bring the Native Dance Group to FNA. I attended mandatory training that was sponsored by RurAl CAP and the State of Alaska, Division of Juvenile Justice at the RurAL CAP Central Office in Anchorage on December 13-14, 2017. It was a good training with a lot of important information to manage this grant, and other grants as well. They went over how to manage the grant financially, which made it quite easy for us. We had to do an accurate budget that was edited a few times until everything turned out evenly.

I have Bi-Weekly Progress Reports and Hours Tracking Spreadsheet that I turn in and teleconferences that I call into once a month. I am hired to work 400 hours this cycle and my contract ends on February 28, 2018. I enjoy working with the P&D Team at TCC. LaVerne Huntington and Renee Linton are always available to help when I call or email with questions. It doesn’t take long to get a reply back either. They are very professional and easy to work with. I also enjoy collaborating with the other GDS from other villages. They are very knowledgeable and give good advice when needed.

I started this position as someone who has never written a grant before and I would say I am now more comfortable writing grants. I have learned a lot through the trainings, the TCC P&D Program, the Huslia Tribal Council, and online tutorials. I am not an expert at writing grants yet, but I have come a long way in a short period. If I can now write a grant with confidence, I’m sure anyone can do it. I would encourage other communities and community members to apply for the position. It’s a great opportunity for the whole communities benefit.

Teri Vent, Huslia Grant Development Specialist


In 2013 my nephew Floyd Green talked me into moving from Tanana to Rampart, he said I would have steady employment, he needed someone to help him revive Rampart; I was hired as the administrative assistant. Fall time came and we signed up for the Community Planning Specialist through TCC Village Planning and Development Department (VP&D). Within 3 months I developed Rampart’s 5 year community plan. My first round as Grant Development Specialist (GDS) I applied but did not receive any grant funding, I felt as if I didn’t know what I was doing. I learned some stuff on my own from asking questions and doing research. It helped having a good supervisor who was learning the process at the same time.

I signed up for the next round of GDS and we were awarded another contract. I went through the training again and it still felt as if I didn’t know what I was doing. I asked a lot of questions and was trying to fund our number one priority outlined in our community plan; to straighten out the power poles in Rampart. I got a couple other small grants but nothing from our community plan. I went back to VP&D and asked them to step up the training if they wanted this program to work. I signed up again for the third time and training was held at IAC as a one week intensive grant writing class for 3 credits; that did it for me. I learned how to write a grant narrative, develop a budget, do a work plan, and fill out proper forms. The GDS applicants were gifted the book The Art of Grant Writing, this became my constant study guide.

I wrote a USDA Community Facilities Grant and was awarded $50,000 to straighten out the power poles here in Rampart. This grant required a ridiculous amount of paper work from beginning to close out (4 folders crammed withdocumentation). Our tribe matched $25,000 to get this project completed. I finally felt successful and started writing proposals and getting awarded.

I feel that the VP&D program gives rural employees the opportunity to work in their own communities and succeed in a couple of very important fields. I really enjoyed the community planning training and developing the community plan and was given the opportunity to assist other tribes in developing plans and felt like I found my calling. My goal is to eventually start my own business called Yukon River Planning Services and provide other tribes with assistance developing community plans, community street safety plans, long range transportation plans, and strategic plans. This is my 7th round of the GDS and I’m looking forward to the upcoming round. The VP&D program has helped me be a successful and productive member of our community workforce.

Mary Ann Wiehl, Rampart Grant Development Specialist


The TCC Planning and Development Program (P&D) is able to help villages hire local Grant Development Specialists (GDS) to write grants focused on a specific project for the village. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be hired as the GDS for the Native Village of Tetlin for a few cycles. A “cycle” consists of a total of 400 hours that must be completed in a four month timeframe.

At the beginning of each cycle, LaVerne Huntington and Renee Linton bring in all of the GDS to meet face to face, learn grant writing skills, and learn more about funding available for Tribes in Alaska. During one cycle, I was able to attend the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) pre-application training in Fairbanks. The ANA Pre-Application Training was very informative and walked grant writers through the steps and process of writing a language preservation grant. At each of these trainings, I walk away more educated about grant writing and ways to help my village achieve their goals.

One of the things I enjoy about working in the GDS position for Tetlin is that I get to focus on Tetlin goals that are straight from the Tetlin Community Plan; these goals were developed by community members through a series of community meetings then developed into a community plan with goals and objectives. I also enjoy writing grants for the youth; the youth are the future of the village, it is important to support them.

Through the GDS position, I have been fortunate to have the support of theVillage Council Members and Tribal Administrator. Support for the GDS by the Council is critical to produce successful grant applications. When I complete an application, I have Kristie Charlie, Tetlin Tribal Administrator, review the document and double check the budget. She usually has suggestions and input, which I appreciate because it makes it a stronger application in the end. Michael Sam, Tetlin Chief, has also been very encouraging as my supervisor; having the support and encouragement of the Tribal Administration ultimately helps the GDS be successful.

I would recommend the GDS program to others that want to make a difference in their village that have a specific project that needs to be accomplished. Whether you have grant writing experience, or none at all, this would be a great opportunity to learn more about grant writing and to help your village achieve their goals from their community plan.

Patricia Young, Tetlin Grant Development Specialist