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From A Thought To A Grant Writing Business In Just A Few Months: Special One-on-One Interview with Camille Ricks

grant writing Jan 20, 2021


  Join me by watching this interview with our special guest Camille Ricks as she reaches her goal. She's the owner and founder of Ricks Creative Agency. Below is the transcription of our interview. Enjoy!

Rodney Walker: Hello, guys. Rodney Walker here of Grant Central USA and today, I'm excited to have a rock star who's doing some incredible things in the grant writing arena, none other than Miss Camille Ricks. Welcome, Camille.

Camille Ricks: Hello, Rodney. Thank you so much for inviting me here.

Rodney Walker: I'm so excited to have you here. And I'm excited about what's going on with you. I've been hearing some incredible things and I'm excited for our listeners to be able to get a chance to hear some of your stories. So tell me this, Camille. Where are you located?

Camille Ricks: I am located in New York City.

Rodney Walker: Awesome. And you've been doing grant writing now for a little while. You've just recently finished our Rising Star program, and one of our stellar students is doing some incredible things. Tell us this as we give you to kind of learn about your journey. Tell us what the interest for professional grant writing first developed for you. How long ago? And then what inspired you to want to do grant right?


An Expression Of Interest For Grant Writing

Camille Ricks: Yeah, formally, my interest in grant writing developed about two years ago when I started taking a serious look at learning the grant writing process in DAP, doing research, finding all of the resources that I could on grant writing certification, which is how I eventually came across you and your course. But even prior to that, when I look back at my history, I realized, wow, I've kind of been in this grant writing, fundraising, nonprofit arena for quite some time without really even realizing it, applying for scholarships back in college and getting tons of college scholarships, being part of different nonprofits during school and, you know, on a volunteer basis over the years and helping those nonprofits with their grants and being on their teams and things like that. And then suddenly I find myself circling back to it and I'm like, wow, it kind of like all is coming together for me. So I'm really enjoying this journey of grant writing and learning something new every day about the process.

Rodney Walker: That is awesome. So you have a history that goes all the way back to when you were doing this, getting scholarship. And a lot of times people don't think that scholarships are actually grants. But truth be told, they are grants that just happen to be education grants. So tell me about some of that money that you raised way back then.

Camille Ricks: Yeah, way, way back then, I remember being in high school and applying to all of these college scholarships and things like that and receiving a lot of money to go to school, where the out of pocket expense that I paid for my education was a lot lower than the sticker price of the school that I went to. 

Rodney Walker: Wow, that's awesome. How much would you say in the course of that time you were able to raise for your school with your scholarships?

Camille Ricks: With my scholarships? I, I ended up only paying about twenty-five percent of the so I pretty much had like seventy five percent of my education paid for while over like a hundred and twenty two hundred thousand dollar value of all.

Rodney Walker:  That is a lot. That's amazing. That's amazing. I know some of our listeners ears have been perked up as a result of the result of hearing that along. That's right. And then you say you started doing some with other nonprofits just at a volunteer level at the beginning.

Camille Ricks: Yeah. So when I was in school, I was part of different organizations and served on different boards and stuff like that. So I was the philanthropy chair of my sorority. I was the fundraising committee president of my MBA class. I was the community service membership chair of a nonprofit that dealt with food scarcity in the community. Those are just a couple of examples of some Toastmasters, all kinds of stuff.


Taking Her Career To The Next Level

Rodney Walker: Well, school and did everything start coming together and then our worlds connected when you wanted to take it to another level and to do grant. Right. And that's what was the big thing for you that made you say, hey, you know what, it's time for me to take this to the next level? What was that for you?

Camille Ricks: For me, taking the grant, writing to the next level, that was when I realized that I wanted to take my natural research and writing abilities and formalize it and really have a concrete structure to not just write a grant proposal, but to also know the tactics and those insider tips that you teach in terms of really connecting with the funders and really setting yourself apart from other organizations that are applying for the same grants so they can get more into a specialty. Yeah, that's great.

Rodney Walker: And our paths connect back. I looked right before we got a chance to connect today. I look back and that we started somewhere around April.

Rodney Walker: And it's amazing to me now who we are. You started back in April of twenty twenty and here we are now fast-forwarding to around January, pretty close to that same time. Twenty, twenty one. And just in that relatively short eight to nine month time frame, you, you have just zoomed, I mean like zoom, you zoom from going through that rise and start program to now doing your very own business. Tell us about tell us about the journey. Tell us about the journey first and then I want to dive in and find out what you're doing with your business as well.

Camille Ricks: Yeah, the journey the journey has been great. The journey has been and it's interesting that what really started out as just a thought and just an idea that I had in my head and that I had support with and everything, I just just like just like a thought of create this business, writing grants, using my writing skills in grant writing in other areas as well.

Camille Ricks: And then all of a sudden, next thing I know, I'm taking your course. Next thing I know, I'm putting together a proposal. The next thing I know, I'm, you know, talking and consulting with clients and, you know, and then one thing led to another. And, you know, in a couple of days, I'm actually doing my own training of grant writing and, you know, kind of like the student becomes the teacher now. Right. So I spent the past two years learning from you in various sources. And now I have this database of knowledge that I can share with others. And I'm just really excited and blessed and passionate to be able to do that and to take something that I so profoundly have a deep meaning and connection with and just share that with others and, you know, and let people know that there's money out there for the organizations.

Camille Ricks: There's grants out there. And, you know, the projects that they have need and deserve to be funded because, you know, that's to me, it's all about inspiring greatness and really doing what I can, not just for myself, but for others. 

Camille Ricks: And, yeah, I get a lot.

Rodney Walker: That's awesome. Give me high five way to go, young lady. Proud of you.


Teaching Grant Writing

Rodney Walker: I mean, like, so you take this one thought, hey, maybe I should take this skill, do this grant writing thing and translated that thought into some concrete actions and then learn the skill very quickly and now are teaching others from your experience as well. Now I saw something where there were like fifteen students that had already signed up to attend your training. And is this going to be like Virtual is going to be at a location? Tell us more about that. 

Camille Ricks: Yeah, so so that number has increased slightly. Now there's forty two people signed up.

Rodney Walker: Oh my God!II saw like fifteen then I saw like twenty one and now you're telling me this all the way up to forty. Some people are beating up your twenty?

Camille Ricks: Something people signed up. It's happening just in a couple of days on the twenty first of this month. And if anyone's watching this after that, you know there might be a replay, a recording available. But yeah, they can find out more about that up on Eventbrite. And my business name is Ricks Creative Agency so you can definitely search for me on there and reach out. 

Rodney Walker: Awesome. Awesome. And you know, before we actually got a chance to connect today, I saw some of the things on your site and saw that it was it was flourishing. And I saw you I saw you a couple of places. And I was like, man, this is really cool. Just get a chance to see you grow. 


The Power Of Overcoming Fear

Rodney Walker: And it's almost like I feel like a pro a pro a popper around here, as I saw you, and we knew you didn't know anything about this or you had some experience previous in the scholarship arena, but now turn that over to grant writing and then luncheon in with that. That is absolutely awesome. So now tell me this, what was what was initially the scariest part of the journey for you and being what did you do to overcome that fear, to get to where you're at right now? I know somebody must know that.

Camille Ricks: So the scariest part for me was so was in the kind of that what do they call it, imposter syndrome complex of like. Well, you know, I even though, like, I had, like, all this experience with, like, you know, the scholarships and, you know, doing different grant-related things, you know, I, I kinda was new at the whole putting together a proposal and declaring and showing the value of what I bring to the table as a grant writer and nonprofit consultant and kind of starting new in that process and kind of like those thoughts of like, am I good enough, you know, sort of a sort of thing. 

Rodney Walker: That's what I had to overcome to do to overcome that challenge. How did you overcome it?

Camille Ricks: Overcoming that challenge is something that I feel that is something that we have to exercise the muscle on a daily basis.

Camille Ricks: It's something where you have to really put in the work and do the reps of just putting yourself out there and putting yourself out there. And also basically finding the courage each day. So to make that phone call or to submit that proposal or to make that presentation and then to work with the client and really get to know them and their organization and build those relationships.

Rodney Walker: OK, that's good. So I heard reps. I heard taking some first steps and putting yourself out there, flex that out for me a little bit more. You say putting in doing some reps. What do you talking about? Help us understand what those reps look like for you.

Rodney Walker: What do they look like and what are they still maybe like where you now?

Camille Ricks: So those reps are just the daily process is that I go through as part of developing and organizing my business for the grant writing and for everything that I do that to reaching out to people that are practicing with the different writing styles of the grant proposal and things like that.

Camille Ricks: For example, going back to me, doing the training that I have coming up on Thursday. Right. So that that was an idea that I came up with three weeks ago. And, you know, part part of me was like, no, you know, it's too soon for that. You know, doing the training like that. You know, there's going to be a lot of people you're kind of, you know, you might be a little camera shy and all of those like thoughts of like, oh, what if you mess up and things like that? 


Bringing People Together to Promote Learning

Camille Ricks: Or, you know, you've only been doing this for two years and there's people out there, 20 years of experience, who who the heck are you to be teaching grant writing to anyone? But then kind of remembering that my two years of experience is more than someone that has zero experience. So I don't even though I don't have the 20 years of experience that some other great writers might have, I still am a step ahead of someone else. And something that I learned when it came to helping and sharing and training with others is that you really only need to be a few steps ahead in order to have an impact on you know people. 

Rodney Walker: That's awesome. I love that you have taken what you have and not just simply sit on it, but you sit on it. But you're taking that information and you're making it practical and you are using it and you're putting yourself out there, because I know a lot of people like, hey, I'm afraid to put myself out there, but you put yourself out there. So. So bravo for doing that awesome job. What do you what are you hoping for? What are you hoping for with this upcoming event that's going to be doing? And then you fast forward and look at your business that you created out of a thought, which I love. If you look at that, what are you hoping that your business will will be about? What kind of impact are you really hoping that it will have?

Camille Ricks: Yeah, absolutely. So this upcoming workshop that I'm having, I really want this to be an educational opportunity and also a networking opportunity for the people that attend. I want I want the people that attend to get the information from me, but also see amongst themselves how their different organizations might be able to support and collaborate with each other and see where there might be common ground. So I'm looking to educate and bring people together for this particular training. That's that's my number one goal. And then going forward with the business, with the Ricks's creative agency, which specializes in three areas of consulting and writing, which are grant writing for non-profits, copywriting, and then also sponsorship, writing joint ventures and partnerships. So it's all about helping organizations and nonprofits to magnetize their message in order to get grant funding, in order to connect with their ideal audience and then also to build relationships. That is the goal. It's using the power of the written word imagery, storytelling, communication to craft together these opportunities for organizations.

Rodney Walker: That's really cool. That's really cool. 

Rodney Walker: So you're going to have I can already tell right now you're going to have some phenomenal success and I'm looking forward to bringing you back later on and letting others get a chance to hear about your continued growth. And I know somebody is listening right now, this being encouraged by just your journey. Now, if you look back at your turn and see where you come from, from there to this point, think back to the very beginning, started back around April and be in the training and then how far out after that time was it when you said, hey, I'm going to do this as a business, I am going to do this? And you made that determination being taken to the part where you made the determination are actually when you actually got your very first client. 

Camille Ricks: So I actually had the idea of doing grant writing in addition to my other writing talents as a business, even prior to doing the official rising star training.

Rodney Walker: Awesome.


Being One Step Ahead Of Others

Camille Ricks: So the rising star training was sort of like in support of me having that as a long term vision and goal. And I and I realized that it would be a valuable investment for me to reach that goal. And what it did for me is that it gave me the confidence to be able to communicate the value of grant writing to an organization and to show and deliver on my ability to serve them. That's what it really did for me. It helped me with that confidence boost of being able to ask the right questions, being able to really get to know them and get to know their organization on a deeper level, that's going to bring out the best opportunity for them to get that grant funding. And so the journey over the past couple of months for me has really been about going through the training, having that experience and what I what I liked about the course that we did together, compared with some other courses that I've taken, is that I really like the hands on approach where we're actually writing and developing an actual grant proposal. 

Camille Ricks: And something that I actually did when I did your training is that I actually took the project of a potential client that I hadn't actually looked yet at the time. Now they are a client. I took their project and I use that as my sample project for the course. So then by the time I actually started working with them is already a step ahead. 

Rodney Walker: Wow. That is awesome. That is really smart too. You know, if there's so many ways of going about it. And I like that you were not afraid. And that's a big thing that I see oftentimes that hinder a lot of people. But you've been methodically taken steps invested into yourself, getting growth. And now it's it's easy now for others to look on this side and see, oh, wow, here she is doing it. But you took a number of calculated steps, so you've got to be commended for that. And I'm sure that you're going to do some incredible things. And if somebody wants to get in touch with you to say, hey, Camille, now that you've gone through this journey, I want you to write a grant. You told us about those three areas of specialization. Is there any location that you're specific to or do you serve and work with people all throughout the throughout the United States and even beyond that? 

Camille Ricks: Yeah, I work with organizations right right now, strictly right throughout the U.S. So US based 501c3's or small to medium to large businesses. And the way that people can contact me is many different ways. I am on LinkedIn. My first name is Camille C.A.M.I.L.L.E and my last name is Ricks, R.I.C.K.S. And then you can also find my page, which is a Ricks creative agency and my website is w w w dot Ricks creative agency dot com. So that's my last name. RICKS creative C R E A T I V E. Agency A G E N C Y dot com (RicksCreativeAgency.com)

Rodney Walker: Awesome. And I'll make sure that we have that information included listed in the descriptions just in case you like to reach out to directly. Camille, it's been great and get a chance to hear your story and I know that the future is really bright for you. I'm looking forward to seeing some great things and possibly have you back in addition to that, possibly doing some work together. We find out more about the sponsorship work that you've done and maybe even more about the scholarship, because I know there are some people here that are listening that are asking themselves, how can I get some of these grants from my how can I get these grants for my son or my daughter or even themselves? So we'll do some collaboration and talk about things that we can bring out to those that are listening for that area as well. OK, so that being said, thank you. Any final words before we head out? 

Camille Ricks: No final words, but thank you so much. I feel so grateful and blessed to be here today and I am excited for what the future holds. Twenty, twenty one is going to be an amazing year.

Rodney Walker: Listen, I know that it is. And like I said, we're going to collaborate on some things and we're going to bring some people out there right now that I know that need scholarship. I'm going to bring some information to them to help them to do that. All the best. Thanks again. You guys out there. Remember, be brave, be bold, be brilliant and do like Camille did.

Rodney Walker: She took charge. 

Camille Ricks: Yes.

Rodney Walker: All the best, take care.

Camille Ricks: Bye, thank you.

Rodney Walker You're welcome.


Rodney Walker is today’s leading expert in Grant Development Systems™ and President of Grant Central USA - Grant Writers Association. Learn more about his online grant writing courses today.

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