Zulkoski helps elevate Doane mission

Sarah Zulkowski

Sarah Zulkoski is on pins and needles hoping for good news on several pending grants submitted by Doane University faculty. As Doane’s director of grants and foundation relations, Zulkoski helps Doane faculty find sources of external funding through public or private foundations.

She also works with Doane’s advancement office to cultivate donor funding. And she works with Doane’s business office to ensure reports and other grant requirements are met.

She especially enjoys working with faculty who have a great idea, and helping match that idea to funders’ interests and flesh out the idea into a ready-to-submit proposal.

That’s a big portfolio for a small one-stop shop.

Since arriving at Doane two years ago, Zulkoski has helped submit applications to federal granting agencies (National Science Foundation, Department of Education and Department of Justice), large national foundations such as Mellon Foundation, regional foundations such as the Cooper Foundation in Lincoln, and private donors.

For instance, the new major in engineering received incubator funds from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, which funds new and innovative projects for three years to get them launched.

Zulkoski said there is no time of the year that is busier than others. But she recently helped submit four proposals to the NSF over six weeks, which is a breakneck pace.

She works collaboratively with faculty and staff, helping them write and structure the proposals; the principal investigators must submit their scholarly findings.

On most major grants, Doane works with a consulting agency, McAllister & Quinn of Washington, D.C. Since partnering with M&Q, Doane has secured more than $5 million in grants and more than $3 million is under review. The company helps match Doane faculty strengths and interests with potential funders, helps coach faculty through review processes, and can provide writing and coordination expertise.

Zulkoski said Doane President Jacque Carter has placed a high priority on growing Doane’s research capacity and securing external funding. Several newly hired faculty are also eager to expand their research projects and scholarly work, she said.

“I think of my office as being the ‘yes’ office, where I can say, ‘that’s a great idea, let’s take it forward,” Zulkoski said. Small liberal arts institutions are becoming more successful at securing funding from federal agencies like NSF because those agencies are looking to diversify the institutions that receive funds, and agencies particularly like multi-partner projects, especially those that involve undergraduate research and learning opportunities.

“The Grants and Foundations Relations Office is here to elevate the mission of Doane and to help seek funding that makes our student experience even better,” she said.

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