Grant proposals

Hi All.
I was talking to - I think it was Tony, a couple of nights back, and grant proposals came up in converation. I was thinking that I’d like to have a crack at trying to apply for a grant but don’t really know where to start and, maybe, others could be in the same position. It might be worth having a form letter or example grant proposal with some guidelines for submission.

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I’m very excited someone is interested in doing this. We’ve approached organizations before about funding, but I’m not aware that we’ve ever actually applied for an open competitive grant before (I went some way towards applying for “Stronger Communitis” grant run by Infrastructure Australia - but it had dollar-matching minimums we couldn’t meet). Here’s something we prepared for the ACT Chief Minister grant:

Dear Chief Minister,

I am writing on behalf of Make, Hack, Void Inc., a non-profit community organization based in Belconnen. MakeHackVoid is modeled on an international community of like minded spaces [1] that started in Germany in 1995. It supports and encourages arts, science, and technology culture in the ACT by providing a physical space [2] for Canberra residents, as well as national and international visitors to meet, interact and create.

Our members have varied interests and backgrounds, but we all come to MakeHackVoid to build things and share knowledge in a positive, inclusive environment. Volunteers occasionally run workshops open to the public, and the maker community supports each other in building various electronic, mechanical, software, creative art, or hybrid projects.

Some members use the space to work on costumes and props for local film and theatre. An example is Chris Wolfe, who started a small side-business [3] that does just this:
“Back when I was living in a unit I had nowhere to work. MHV allowed me to start down the prop building path for internet based commissions as well as film.”
“I could not have made [the robot hand presented at Questacon [4], [5] and Robot World LIve [6] events] without MHV’s help with coding.”

In 2011, CanberraUAV [7] started out as a sub-group [8] tinkering with autonomous aircraft - a notoriously multi-disciplinary endeavour. The diverse skills among members resulted in several prize-winning entries, including the 2012 UAV Outback Challenge [10] ($10,000 [9]). By 2014 they had graduated to their own space (along with a $50,000 [11] prize). CanberraUAV now contributes to open source drone software used all over the world.

In order to keep more of these success stories coming, we rely solely on member donations as well as discounted rent from ACT Property Group. Currently our priorities are on raising funds for improving wheelchair accessibility at our next premises in Giralang.

As such, we’ve delayed equipment acquisitions that are currently in demand, such as:
~$480 Table saw - we had one on loan from a generous member until recently; used for cutting larger pieces of wood. Example member projects include a DIY arcade games cabinet, creative shelving, storage building, gardening apparatus
~$1000-$1900 A new 3D Printer to complement our less reliable/ageing printers - these are our most popular tool. Example projects include: custom gardening tools, robotic claw, frozen coke machine, a 3D map of Australia, custom cookie cutters, a robotic amateur satellite ground station antenna, electronics enclosures, etc.
~$1300 new projector (donated unit was stolen). We’d love to resume scheduled talks/presentations; members also watch recorded conference talks together.
~$1200-$2300 lathe or milling machine. We have a small donated CNC engraver for very small light-duty engraving of wood, foam or acrylic, but a proper mill or lathe would allow us to economically work larger pieces of wood or light metals, as well as circuit board prototypes. Example uses include: custom clock making, musical instrument fabrication, quad-copter and UAV prototyping, fabricating any parts that require more strength than can be obtained from a 3D Printer.

Tara Cheyne (CC’d) has mentioned that there may be funds available to assist MHV. Even partial assistance with any one of these items would be greatly appreciated! I would be very happy to show you around any time after hours or on weekends if you’d like a tour, otherwise we’d be glad to have you along to a Tuesday night community meetup.

To see a small cross-section of what our members get up to, there’s a few photos at http://www.meetup.com/MakeHackVoid/photos/, or discussions at https://facebook.com/groups/357947732276/ and http://forum.makehackvoid.com.

Kind regards,


Paul Harvey
MakeHackVoid Secretary

[1] https://hackerspaces.org/
[2] https://makehackvoid.com/our-space
[3] https://www.facebook.com/CombustibleProps
[4] https://www.flickr.com/photos/43859044@N02/albums/72157625195735640
[5] http://www.questacon.edu.au/events/serious-costumes
[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDGViFV8OfM#t=0m52s

[7] http://canberrauav.org.au/
[8] http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/canberrauav-outback-challenge-2012-debrief
[9] http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/drone-finds-dummy-bushwalker-in-worldfirst-20121005-273lv.html
[10] https://uavchallenge.org/
[11] http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/ganggang-canberras-champion-drone-20140928-10ncvu.html

The main problem is identifying and staying on top of grant opportunities. Tara Cheyne suggested we register on austender (I think) which I seem to recall will mention grant opportunities like the Stronger Communities grant scheme which may be more accessible to us, but I haven’t got to doing that yet :frowning:

When I see some of the things that my tax dollars have supported, over the years, (Certain flying art works come immediately to mind), I feel that a small grant to establish specific, defined project items ought to be reasonable to request assistance in their establishment. We keep hearing about STEM being important. There’s a political element to the whole STEM thing and MHV is allied, I think, with STEM type things so maybe some political persuasion is possible on this basis:) I’m certainly interested in having a crack at it but didn’t want to do anything independently as that would, obviously, not be appropriate:)

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Fantastic - thanks for taking a look, we really appreciate it :slight_smile:

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