I received a Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) grant from the AAP late in 1998. It was the first grant I ever applied for. I had finished residency, worked in private practice, and came to the University of Miami in September 1997 as a full time clinician. The proposal was to design a plan to reduce youth gun violence in Miami-Dade County.
Getting a grant gets the attention of others, no matter what the dollar amount is. I applied for $10,000, but was granted only $7,500. Though initially disappointed, the truth is, I had a hard time spending the money! My hospital was so engaged in the issue that they provided all the meeting rooms, catering, and audiovisual support for free. The Mayor's office saw how hard I was working and met that with equal staff support, who assisted in document preparation, meeting planning, press releases, etc.
I want to emphasize that the community aspect of this project has made everything else I do in the community possible. I am not from Miami, and knew no one here. Yet, the contacts I made during the 12-18 months of working on this grant have helped me enormously. I now know, and frequently call on, key officials in the school system, state attorney's office, public defender's office, law enforcement, health department, parks and recreation, the Mayors of the city and county, Spanish and English media, and a sizable portion of the county's child advocates and service providers.
After CATCH, I had the contacts and credentials to carry out research and community programming funded by local organizations. Once that was secure, I was able to move on to federal grants and national foundations. Today, the total of awarded grants is about 1.5 million!
The initial AAP CATCH grant that I received back in 1998 served as a true catalyst and launching board, but also a generator of energy, commitment, change.