A Postcard From: Kinbrae Sperstad ’19

Name: Kinbrae Sperstad
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology

Internship Placement: Harmony Theater
Location: Philadelphia region

This summer, I’ve been working as a development intern for Harmony Theater Company, a theater group for adults with disabilities. Harmony puts on two shows a year, one in late November and another in mid-May, so there is no rehearsal during the summer. However, I got to meet a number of actors last week, when Harmony took a trip to the Phillies game for the Fourth of July! Harmony actors range in age from 18 to 80 and live in the five-county greater Philadelphia area. Currently, Harmony doesn’t have an office; shows and rehearsals are held in a local church, so I’ve been working remotely. I meet with Harmony’s executive director about once a week—usually we go to a coffee shop—to talk about my progress and what my next step will be. Most days, I end up working at Green Engine, a coffee shop in Haverford. I highly recommend their matcha latte and yogurt with granola!

Harmony Theater has been an organization for almost 20 years, but only became a nonprofit about five years ago. Harmony hopes, one day, to have its own space with an auditorium and a storefront, creating job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For their entire existence, Harmony has been mostly supported through small donations from family members and businesses. In order to grow their program and make it more accessible to low-income individuals, Harmony needs to find funding from other sources. That’s where my internship comes in! I am working on finding potential funding sources, grant-makers, for Harmony. Thanks to a LILAC intensive I did over Spring Break 2017, and a mini internship I had with a Philadelphia nonprofit that spring, I have the skills needed to research and write grants for nonprofits.

Last Thursday, I went to the Free Library of Philadelphia to visit the Regional Foundation Center. The foundation center has access to specialized databases used to find and research grant-makers and determine those that would be a good match. I first visited the foundation center and had training on how to use some of its databases during the LILAC intensive I did during Spring Break 2017. Because the databases are very expensive and only accessible at the Free Library’s main location on the parkway, I now have spreadsheets of hundreds of potential funders for Harmony. My next step in the coming weeks will be to sift through the data I have in order to determine which grant-makers will be the best match for Harmony. Understanding which grants to apply for is essential, as it ensures an organization doesn’t waste time on applications it’s not a match for. While the skills I learned in the LILAC intensive are important for grant work, I am also using the skills I’ve gained in all of my Bryn Mawr education. As a psychology major, I’ve had a lot of experience writing academic papers and have learned to be accurate and concise in my writing. This is another essential skill for grant writing. I am glad to be able to, in this short period, help Harmony find grants in order to further its mission and impact!