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Lydia Howie

EARLEVILLE — A Cecil County businesswoman has achieved the highest heights in her field, and has some advice for those interested in grants and grantwriting.

The Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) presented Lydia S. Howie, MS, GPC, of Earleville with their 2019 Pauline G. Annarino Award, which is the grant writing industry’s highest national honor for impact in the profession. The award was presented last month in Washington, D.C. at the national Grant Professional Association’s annual conference, which conference officials said was attended by almost 900 people.

Howie was recognized for her long and innovative career, which includes her founding of the Grant Professionals of Lower Hudson in New York. Also highlighted were her contributions to the grant writing industry, including speaking regularly on the profession both locally and nationally, authoring numerous industry articles, mentoring and supporting several people who have gone on to impact the field, and working tirelessly with nonprofit agencies and grant writers seeking advice and individuals considering a grant writing career.

Through the Grant Professionals of Lower Hudson (GPLH), Howie — who now lives in Cecil County — has firmly established a grant writing legacy in Westchester County, N.Y.

Her organization has become one of the major regional nonprofit support agencies in that area, and provides quarterly education, events, an internship program, free counseling to individuals and nonprofits who seek grant writing or industry advice, job and consultant referral, networking and much more.

Howie was among the first people in Westchester County to earn her Grant Professional Certification — and she is one of ten in the state of Maryland and one of only two in Cecil County to possess the credential.

Since 1999, she has been owner of Howie Marketing & Consulting, a grant writing firm that has raised over $40 million for nonprofit organizations representing a wide variety of missions.

We caught up with Howie and talked to her about her chosen industry and the heights she has achieved. She expressed a true love for the field.

The field of grant writing

“Most nonprofit organizations rely on grant funding as part of their revenue stream needed to fund their programming and accomplish their missions,” she said.

But it’s not just non-profits that get grants. Howie said that municipalities and “on a rare occasion” for-profit companies will also be awarded grants, usually for economic development purposes.

“Knowing where to find funding sources and understanding the creation process of a grant proposal is a major part of the success of grant writing, so employing or contracting with a grant writer will increase a nonprofit’s likelihood of winning vital grant funding,” she said. Howie is an industry veteran, and she said there is funding available for virtually every nonprofit mission, including grants for education, the arts and environment, healthcare and mental health, youth development, developmental disabilities, diseases, social services and much more.

Howie routinely encourages and mentors those in the field, and said that strong writing and research skills are paramount to success. “[You also] need to learn the specific art of grant writing,” she said. “You need to be able to vet or determine what is an appropriate funder to apply to.”

Howie also said that, in her field, belonging to trade associations and other industry groups is essential to success. Howie is a member of Grant Professionals Association, and avails herself of their many membership benefits, such as their annual conference, webinars, website and member resources, mentoring program, and more. She was excited to share that the organization will be forming a Delmarva Chapter in the New Year. “Interested individuals can watch their chapter page for details,” she said.

“Obtaining your Grant Professional Certificate from the Grant Professional Certificate Institute should be a goal of every grant writing professional,” she said. The credential is awarded to grant professionals who meet eligibility requirements and successfully demonstrate proficiency in the required competencies, and Howie knows it makes all the difference in your professional reputation and viability.

The joys of small business

Howie has been a small business owner since 1999 throughout much of the East Coast. Having landed in Cecil County, she is one of only two people in the county who has earned the prestigious professional certification.

“I wouldn’t do anything else for a living,” she said.

“I love helping nonprofits raise the money they need to accomplish their missions. Nothing is more thrilling than learning your effort has paid off and is going to be helping others in need. For example, I helped a nonprofit school serving 88 children with profound disabilities secure enough funds so each child has their own school iPad, which aids in engagement and information retention. I secured a $750,000 grant to put a new roof on a Boys & Girls Club. Gilda’s Club received $100,000 to build a teen cancer center. One special story is that for a rehabilitation hospital, I secured funding for a ‘sitcar,’ a half car that patients use to practice transference skills. Years later, my father, who was in the facility after suffering a stroke, was happy to use the sitcar indoors to practice getting in and out of a car before being released from the hospital. I would have never thought a family member would have benefited from a grant I wrote.”

Howie moved to Bayview Estates in Earleville last year, and said she and her family live full-time in Cecil County. She has one client so far in the area, Jewish Family Service of Delaware. The group provides vital mental health and other support services for Delmarva residents in crisis, children’s services and senior services.

“I look forward to using my talents to help other nonprofits in Cecil County care for its residents and improve the quality of life in the region – an area that is truly a rural and environmental gem I am proud to call home,” she said.

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