We empower grant seekers to solve the problems of tomorrow by providing them with the knowledge, support, and tools needed to identify and secure funding for their research, education, and outreach programs. Underlying our service is a foundation of coaching and instruction that provides our clients with the skills needed to grow and succeed.
Affinity Grant Insights is the realization of a 10-year dream to develop a grant consulting and training business that works at the intersection of research, education, and community development. The dream was sparked by our founder's work with a land grant university's County Extension programs. During her time working with these programs she saw a need for grant writing and strategic planning assistance; both for Extension faculty and for our community partners. She loved the great work done by both and wanted to help them secure additional funding to expand their programs.
Thus Affinity Grant Insights LLC was born.
Maureen Bonnefin, CRA
I was once asked if CRA stood for Cash Retrieval Artist. While that is not what it stands for, it is exactly what I do. Since 2006, I have secured over $243 million in grant funding from federal, state, local, foundation, and industry funders. I have a varied and diverse background that allows me to understand, communicate, and most importantly coach a wide range of clients. Additionally, as a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) I not only work with clients to develop a clear justification for funding, I also know what it takes to manage and execute the project. This allows me to provide clients with guidance for developing a realistic, executable, and fundable project.
My history in grants...
The first 16 years of my grant career was spent at Washington State University (WSU), where I worked in all levels of grants from proposal development and grant writing to post award grant management and accounting. In the most recent six and a half years at WSU I worked as a grant writer, proposal consultant, and was Assistant Director for the central research development office. In this role I coached both individuals and teams through the grant writing process, providing grant writing training to faculty, staff and students from a multitude of backgrounds. My background in mathematical proof writing, combined my coaching and teaching skills meant that my methods of providing review, feedback and editing on proposals were very effective and had a long lasting impact. Additionally, I always strived to have a clear proposal plans for post award management. This meant that the faculty I worked with were getting funded at a higher rate than the other proposal consultants in my office.
I also worked in various other grant roles during my time at WSU including "cradle to grave" grant management and grant accounting. Most notably, I spent four years working with County Extension faculty and their community partners to secure grant funding for education and community development programs. In this role I assisted them with all of their grant needs including but not limited to advising on project planning, editing white papers and grant documents, and developing and managing budgets.
Over the years I have worked on grants from almost all of the federal grant making agencies including NSF, USDA, DOE, Dept. of Education, EPA, DOD, DOJ, DOT, DOI, DOC, SBA, USAID, and HHS including National Institutes of Health and the CDC. I also worked on grants from state and local agencies, professional associations, industry, agricultural commissions, and foundations. A sampling of the foundation grants I have worked on include: Wells Fargo Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Russell Family Foundation, National 4-H Foundation, Empire Health Foundation, Paul Lauzier Charitable Foundation, RGK Foundation, Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Union Pacific Foundation, Avista Foundation, FINRA Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation and MJ Murdock Charitable Trust.
In 2013 I sat for and obtained my CRA through the Research Administrators Certification Council; a professional organization that certifies, through experience and testing, grant professionals working in research. While my current work with researchers is less than it was while at a university I continue to keep my certification current. The knowledge gained and retained while being certified ensures all my clients are getting excellent grant advice. I maintain my certification through continuing education and giving back to the grant professional community by presenting at conferences such as those hosted by the Grant Professionals Association, National Organization of Research Development Professionals, and the National Council of University Research Administrators.
Why start a grant company...
During my time at WSU I noticed a gap between the grant support our faculty received and the capacity of our community and industry partners to secure and manage grants. Our partners often struggled to find professional grant assistance and lacked the ability to meet funders' expectations. As a result programs that could make a real difference in the world went unfunded. In 2012 a dream was born to develop a grant consulting and training business that could work at the intersection of community development, education and research. After 10 years of perfecting my grantsmanship skills, in 2022 I launched Affinity Grant Insights LLC.
Changing the world one grant at a time...
My goal is to empower my clients to make a difference in the world by helping them secure the funding needed to implement their dreams.
While remembering we are humans...
As I work with you to achieve this goal we must realize that we need to first take care of ourselves to be able to implement our goals. I treat my clients with a level of understanding and respect that allows us to build a genuine affinity for each other. Through proper planning and open communication I make the grant seeking process enjoyable while also making time for each of us to enjoy life outside of work.
I am more than just a grant expert...
I have a host of passions and interests outside of the grant world. I grew up in a very small rural town of 2,000 people known for ranching, tourism, and supplying Los Angeles with water. Despite it's small size my town was quite diverse and I was exposed to a multitude of cultures, classes, and backgrounds. To this day this has influenced my stance on developing relationships that encourage acceptance and belonging while being inclusive and equitable.
My mother was a nurse and my father a mechanic (both automotive and waterworks) and I grew up with talk of community health and how to fix engines at the dinner table. I've always been a veracious learner interested in all topics and unwilling to focus on any one in particular. When it came time to choose a degree for college I decided to become a high school math teacher after being exposed to teaching by tutoring my peers in high school and teaching swim lessons at our local pool. I chose math because it was the one subject that challenged me in school and I love a challenge. It had the added bonus of being the base language for all science. After gaining my degree and teaching credential I hit a burnout wall and took a year off, sewing hats for a local milliner and evaluating life. At this point my husband and I decided to move where we wanted to live and then find jobs to support our life. This is how we ended up on the Palouse and how I stumbled into the grant world soon after through a chance interview.
Outside of helping people secure grant funding I enjoy gardening, cooking, creating art, sewing, backpacking, swing dancing and teaching swing dance, slow travel in an RV, downhill skiing, riding horses (when I can find one to ride), training dogs, and playing in the outdoors. I'm an enjoyer of a good pun, or word play, and incessant learner. I listen to too many podcasts, watch too many YouTube tutorials, and attend a lot of professional development trainings. For the other nerds, in math I love to explore logic, patterns, optimization, and visualizations. I've held a whole host of odd jobs before landing on my career in grants, including: lifeguard, Forest Service technician, tutor, library assistant, manual laborer, and maker of hats. My personal goal in starting this business, besides feeding my inner need to help people grow, is to allow my husband and I to have more time, location, and financial freedom to roam the country in our RV.
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