Darryl Crawford is the Grant Services Coordinator at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, VA. He’s a relatively new member to Community Commons, but is already finding ways to seamlessly integrate it with the grant writing process. He’s currently using it for a project that is seeking funding to provide mental health services to students at Lord Fairfax. In our conversation below, Crawford discusses how Community Commons has benefited these efforts.
Hi Darryl. Thanks for talking with us today. Could you tell us about the kind of work you do?
I coordinate grant proposals for the college and the college’s educational foundation. As part of that role, I identify sources of external data for grant project and program needs statements. We use about 25 different sources. Depending on what we are working on, we combine data to make our case. That is where I encountered Community Commons, through one of our data sources. I have been using Community Commons for 3 or 4 months.
Since you’re a relatively new member, how have you used Community Commons for your grant work so far?
Right now, we are doing a study to demonstrate a shortage of mental health services for community college students. We will be using some of your data and mapping resources, as well as others, to help make the justification to grantors and foundations. Community Commons had an article up the other day on mental health and the information that you used is some of what I have been using too.
That’s interesting! Could you tell us more about the grant you’re working on?
It is a draft proposal at this point. We hope that the proposal, once completed, will be a good candidate for a grant. Community college students often are left out of the mental health picture. Their mental health needs are different from say youth or older adults – even different from students at four-year institutions. While, nationally, $130 billion goes to mental health and substance abuse annually, it does not seem to make its way down to the community college level.
Currently, there are many programs and proposals under consideration at the federal level to promote college education for all. We are trying to make a justification that providing for the mental health needs of community college students is already, and will be even more so, a key factor in student success.
There is not that much data out there relating to mental health services for community college students. We are trying to put something together from the sources we can find, like Community Commons. The issue we run into is that the access data do not take into account circumstances such as the difficulty many students have with the cost of services, lack of transportation, and limited support structures.
How has Community Commons’ added value to this kind of work and how could it be even more beneficial?
We have really just started getting into Community Commons to see what is there. Traditionally, we have worked with lots of separate sources and the one thing we like about Community Commons is that you have many of the sources we use grouped together. That helps a lot and saves time. We are at the stage where we are still looking to see what you have that can help us.
Another strong point is the mapping and reporting ability because we can take data and show it in numbers, but then be able to map it and show it graphically. It really makes a difference, so that’s been the biggest benefit that we have had.
One of the things we are glad to be able to do is to tie the health side of the data together with the data we use on the workforce side. This will help us as we demonstrate the needs for health programs in our curriculum. We see great value there, but again we have not gotten that far into Community Commons as to be able to say that we have been able to use it successfully. However, we see great potential for it.
It sounds like you’re building momentum for it though?
Yes, we are and, as I said, it really has great potential. We are in a situation where we must increasingly justify our projects and programs and Community Commons will be a very useful tool. Needs and then evaluation are two of the biggest things we run into and this will be one of the tools in our toolbox.
You all are providing a great service and we really appreciate it. I look forward to doing more work on Community Commons as we move forward.